Can I plant six tomato plants in a 4x8 raised bed

bibboMay 4, 2008

Is that too many? Right now the seedlings are about 2-3 feet apart.

So more towards the edge of the border.

If this is too many for a raised bed, which I hope it is not, then why?

what is the thinking here. Will their roots compete? When they grow high will the leaves compete?

Right now i have them 2 x 2 x 2 (2 cherry tomatoes 2 Beefstake type tomatos and then 2 romas)

thanks for the education in advance.

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hatchjon

Sounds good to me. 18-24'' spacing is perfect for tomatoes. Make sure you provide support.
Good Luck

    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 8:54PM
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annpatt

Yes. They'll be fine with staking and pruning.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 10:12PM
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justaguy2(5)

If this is too many for a raised bed, which I hope it is not, then why?

what is the thinking here. Will their roots compete? When they grow high will the leaves compete?

Both are considerations.

6 tomatos in a 4x8 bed isn't excessive because this is 32 square feet of growing area and a tomato plant really only needs 4-8 square feet to do well assuming it isn't being pruned for a more intensive growing method. On the low side you would need 24sq ft and on the high side 48 sq ft and you have 32 so all is well. Keep in mind that there are methods that produce good yields that only require 1 sq ft per plant.

When it comes to root competition I feel like an English teacher asking the student to finish the sentence. Compete for what? The soil a plant grows in really only need perform a few functions. It needs to support the plant so winds don't knock it over and blow it away. It needs to provide enough water to last until the next time you irrigate and it needs to hold enough nutrients until the next time you fertigate. In this sense you can space plants as close as you wish as long as water and nutrients are provided for.

It is mainly foliage density that makes us plant further apart. Plant tomatos 1' apart and unless you prune the heck out of them they grow into a solid mass that is difficult to harvest from and god forbid a foliage disease strike one, because the diseased plant touches another which touches another and thus the disease easily spreads from one to the next.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 1:50AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Soil does much more than simply provide an anchor so the plant does not get blown over and a place for the plant to get some moisture. A good, healthy soil will provide that plant with such essential macro nutrients as Nitrogen, Phopsphorus, Potash, Calcium, Magnesium, as well as these essential micro nutrients Zinc (sometimes listed as a Macro), Iron, Sulfur, Boron, Copper, Manganese, and Molybdenum. So whether those plants are planted too close or not depends on how good and healthy that soil is. If the soil in that bed is well endowed with organic matter and is evenly moist but well drained and has a good balance of nutrients those tomatoes will be fine, although maybe, unless pruned, a tangled mass of plant at the end of the growing season. If the soil is not a good, healthy soil then that spacing is too close and those tomatoes will not grow well or produce good fruit.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 6:48AM
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shellva(Camden 7b/8a)

I don't doubt there is room enough in a 4X8 to grow 6 tomato plants but unless you keep them well pruned, I would think 6 in that space might make harvesting a bit interesting at times.

I grew 4 planted zig-zag in the size box you are dealing with. I didn't prune at all. Harvesting the tomatoes from all angles was not a problem. Not so sure I'd be able to say that had there been 2 more.

So, guess it depends on how you plan to tend your plants.

Michelle

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 4:10PM
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bibbo

Good to hear on all fronts. I have replaced the soil with good soil with organic materials. So I should be fine there.

I am really doing a lot of experimenting this year.

Growing from seeds, planting in pots, planting in beds. So this should be fun to see how it comes out.

thanks for all the help!!!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 4:53PM
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buzzsaw8

My raised bed is the same exact size - I've got 5 tomatoes this year and I'm pinching every sucker. Last few years I let them go crazy and they were a mess.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 8:54PM
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darthtrader(10 SoCal)

Using the SGF method, I've done 1 plant per square foot staked (or strung up) and pruned. You can use the rest of the square feet for rooting and planting large suckers.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 1:37PM
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adirondackgardener(Western Maine)

In my doube-dug raised beds, I plant about 15 tomato plants (18" spacing) in a space that size. With the soil loosened to a depth of about 24 inches, root growth is not inhibited by close spacing.

My soil is amended with good compost to achieve consistantly high yields in a small area. Unless you garden on a toxc waste Superfund site, it is almost never necessary to replace your soil with "good organics." Soil is the greatest asset you own. Help build it. Don't replace it.

Wayne

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 8:59PM
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piotr01

i'm going for 6 indeterminate plants in a 4x5 square.

I figured i was being generous b/c in the book it said 1 per square foot!!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 10:37PM
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arwmommy(9b So. Calif.)

I, too, plant even more than you--- 12 plants in a 4 x 6 bed. That's only 2 sq feet per plant, but it works. It works because my soil is dug very deeply (18") It is heavily composted, and I am religious about tying them up in a basket weave pattern of support (google it). Yes, it is a jungle by the end of the season, but I can reach everything, and my tomatoes are never sunscalded because there is more than enough shade from all the leaves!!

Gardening is about experimenting with what works for you! You have had advice from both sides of the aisle on this one, so plant them, and then you will know how comfortable you are doing the same thing next year!!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 12:09AM
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piotr01

arwmommy do you have any photos of your 4x6 you could share with us?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 11:21AM
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arwmommy(9b So. Calif.)

Here are pics from the last few months, but unfortunately, none of them are of the garden at the end of summer with huge plants. I will be posting on the above link monthly as summer progresses (my next post is in about a week!), so you can follow it, if you would like!

Here is a link that might be useful: 2008 Garden Blog Link

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 12:00AM
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