I’m converting some pasture to melon and squash production. How much room should I allow for each plant in strip planting?

K.S.IowaAnswer: The ATTRA publication Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Production will give you some tips about converting pasture to pumpkins (or other vining crops.) The publication and its enclosures also discuss no-till practices that you could use. A Mississippi State University Extension bulletin says watermelon plants should have about 25 square feet per plant. If you are planting on 8 foot rows, the plants should be about 3 feet apart. If you are planting on 6 foot rows, the plants should be about 4 feet apart. Cantaloupes need about 20 square feet per plant, and cucumbers should have about 6 square feet per plant. A Pennsylvania State University Extension bulletin says to plant pumpkin seeds in single rows 6 to 8 feet apart and 30 to 40 inches apart within the row. And a 1999 study by Dr. Ron Morse at Virginia Polytechnic Institute says that equidistant spacing of 48 inches by 48 inches outyields spacing of 2 feet by 8 feet. See “When it comes to pumpkin spacing, the squeeze play works” at www.harrismoran.com/news/articles/pumpkin.htm. These, however, will give you a solid field of pumpkin vines, not the strips that you intend to plant. You may have to experiment to get the strips sized to fit your equipment and the crop. Vines from one pumpkin plant can probably extend 15 to 20 feet in one direction, but if you want to keep them out of the driving strip, you can push them back into the planting strip with a hoe handle or other implement.