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Seed merchant instructions- I don’t understand!

EmerionEmerion Posts: 581
Can someone explain the odd spacing instructions on so many seed packets? For example, my cape gooseberry packet says that they can go into 9 inch pots or 2 feet apart in the border. I’ve always put them in the border, and the 2 feet separation works fine. But I’m considering using some pots this year because of space issues. I don’t understand why the much smaller capacity in a 9 inch pot will be adequate? Given that a plant in a pot is completely dependent on you for all of its water and feed, why doesn’t it need more volume of growing medium? I’ve noticed this wide variation on many seed packets. The only thing that occurs to me is the competition with neighbours in the border, but even allowing for that, it’s a big difference. 
Carmarthenshire (mild, wet, windy). Loam over shale, very slightly sloping, so free draining. Mildly acidic or neutral.


  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    It's because in a pot you will always feed. Out in the soil spacing is for years of growth. Soil releases nutrients very slowly, but the plants will be there a long time, perhaps just getting a yearly mulch.

    The spacings can seem odd, even wasteful, but they have been derived from years of experience to maximise crop yield and often to protect the health of the plant (think of a bed of strawberries that could be in 2-3 years, the usually recommended spacing is partly to prevent fungal disease quickly spreading through a bed as well as ensuring each plant is not competing with neighbours).

    At times it is OK to break the rules, if for example the soil is very fertile, also look into intensive cropping system. Generally though the spacing is guidance for best results from years of experience, over a wide range of growing conditions.
  • Nine inches is the amount of space that the roots need, but the top growth is much larger than this, hence the two foot spacing.
  • EmerionEmerion Posts: 581
    That all makes sense, thank you. That’s my stupid question for the week out of the way. I comfort myself with the advice of my maths teacher of many years ago, which was that he wanted to hear the stupid questions more than any other, because others would be wondering as well but not prepared to show themselves up. Or maybe it is just me 😂
    Carmarthenshire (mild, wet, windy). Loam over shale, very slightly sloping, so free draining. Mildly acidic or neutral.

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    The twist on it I know, the only stupid question is the one you didn't ask.
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