You can get more plants out of your vegetable plot and reduce pest damage at the same time by inter-planting a crazy quilt of vegetables in a wide row. Choose plants that can be sown in the same season and, for the fun of it, follow a theme. A salad row, for example, might consists of radishes, garden cress, red and green leaf lettuce, chicory, dill, and parsley.

First, prepare a row at least 3 feet wide. Combine all the seeds in a small jar (a peanut butter jar is ideal). Then punch a dozen or more holes in the lid and screw it on. Using the jar as a shaker, sprinkle seeds sparsely over the whole row. Scratch the surface lightly with a hand cultivator to cover the seeds, then water with a gentle shower.

Thinning will be the only real chore. Widen the intervals between plants only as they actually need the room, since the less soil you leave bare, the less chance there is for weeds to invade. A thick blanket of foliage also shades the soil, acting much as a mulch would.

The inter-planting also helps keep garden pests in check; in traditional row gardens, insects find the crops they like and race down the rows, jumping from plant to plant. In your crazy quilt garden, they’re more likely to concentrate on one plant at a time.

Be imaginative and choose other themes: a spaghetti sauce row, with tomato and pepper seedlings, basil, and garlic; or a soup row, with kale, carrots, leeks, and beets.

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