Saturday, March 01, 2008

Still Picking On Peppers

You know when you hear a tiny tid-bit and swear you'll put 2 and 2 together later, much later, when you have time?

This is what went in one ear and got promptly filed: Pepper producers have discovered that cramming two to three times the amount of pepper plants into the same amount of space has improved the yields on each plant by almost double the normal amount.

Yup, I heard it and stashed it away in my 'mind file' for some further research. Yeah, that file waaaay at the back of my brain.

I can't even remember where I heard it.

After much researching, all I can find are bits and pieces of info:

"Previous studies have documented that higher plant population densities usually result in greater pepper yields."

"Yield responses varied greatly by location, year and variety, but results
indicate that a density achieved at a spacing that is nearly three times the standard density will not reduce yield."

"With increased plant density, stem thickness and main fork angle were reduced, while fruit and plant height were increased."

"At this time, we recommend increasing (pepper) plant populations."

"Plant population did not affect average fruit weight even though it was expected that crowding due to greater plant populations would lead to lower fruit weights."

Now, keep in mind that I've always planted peppers spaced so that the leaves of each mature plant would barely touch the leaves of the mature plant next to it. Why should the leaves touch? I have no earthly clue, and it may just be a myth or an old wives tale, but that's the way my grandmother did it, so that's the way I've always done it. (And yes, I found references to that too).

It just goes against my grain to cram plants together in my garden. With wintersowing, hunks of flower sprouts just get ripped apart in chunks of 5 or 6 and plopped into the ground. No thinning, no trimming, nada. They grow just fine.

Vegetables, however, are a different matter altogether.

Or are they?

I think we'll give this a try this year and see what happens. I know what we got for a yield last year so I'll be able to compare. I know I'm really going to have to fight the urge all summer, and very hard, not to move them farther apart. This should be an interesting experiment. I guess we'll see what happens.


Nicole said...

Because of coral "soil" which I have to totally replace with compost and manure, and dry weather I grow my vegetables together intensively, and its given me better results in my environment. This year was the first I had dill and cilantro-because there were other herbs supporting the plants from blowing over. I also planted two tomato seedlings to one hole-and the plants are as now large as and flowering the same as the "singletons", plus the benefit of supporting each other.

Tina said...

Hey there, Nicole.
Thanks so much for popping in!
Now, don't take this the wrong way, but yours is one of the blogs I sort of subconsciously avoid in the deep dark days of winter. I mean really, looking at all that lushness when I've got 3 feet of snow on the ground is just depressing! Ok, I DO sneak peeks - I can't help it, I need to see green beauty and dream about your part of the world. lol.

Your results really interest me. It's hard for me to even think about putting plants so close together, but when real gardeners like you tell me they had success doing it, it makes me maybe sway a little. I mean, there's 'square foot gardening' and then there's 'cramming those suckers in there'.

I'm definitely going to give it a try this year. I think it's just that I have to see it for myself. You mentioned tomatoes and herbs, but I don't think I could push myself to try it with tomatoes. Herbs, well heck, I think of them more as flowers, so they do get crammed in. I've never noticed any negative affects. Hmmm....