Tomato Spacing

farmerchad(z6 WV)February 19, 2005

Im sure this has been discussed, but im courius as to spacing for tomatoes. What does everyone use? I just feel that 1 plant per square foot is a little tight. I will admit that I have not purchased any books on square foot gardening, but simply used information found here for most of my plans. So any input would be helpful.



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Ray_Scheel(z8b/SS31 E. TX)

1' works, but only in a "row" across. You can't plant a square solid that way, gotta alternate with smaller stuff.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2005 at 7:56PM
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southerngurl(6 Ark)

I believe they are pruned quite a bit that way. I am giving my tomatoes 4 square feet(2x2) and allowing them to grow to normal size.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2005 at 8:32PM
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farmerchad(z6 WV)

That makes sense. I am considering a checkerboard type of pattern. Intermingle some pepper plants and hopefully all will be good. Im hoping the peppers will scare off the gang of deer!


    Bookmark   February 19, 2005 at 10:25PM
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southerngurl(6 Ark)

The tomatoes might shade out the peppers?

Carrots are great to interplant with tomatoes, of course they are just a cool season plant, won't be there all season.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2005 at 10:52PM
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lantanascape(z6 Idaho)

I had bell peppers closely planted with tomatoes last year, and the peppers really suffered. The peppers that weren't competing with the toms really flourished. I'd just give a generous spacing for the toms. Ie, if you're doing determinates in 4x4 bed, 4 plants should be about right. You can have pruned indeterminates on 18" centers on a trellis with other things planted south of the trellis. Another factor to consider is your humidity. Your plants will be more disease prone if they don't have enough room for air circulation in humid zones. Some humid zone gardeners are planting on 3' centers for this reason. Check the tomato growing forum for more info.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2005 at 11:53AM
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farmerchad(z6 WV)

Hmmm... lettuce and onions perhaps? The good part is that the sun travels directly over my backyard. Almost perfectly straight. I did check out the tomato forum and seems some folks space upwards of 3 feet. Anyone have any input on lettuce, onions, or potato? Im guessing that lettuce should do so-so because of shade, but potatoes and onions im at a loss for. Never have grown those two. Worse comes to worse I can do herbs!


    Bookmark   February 20, 2005 at 7:04PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

"1' works, but only in a "row" across."

Just wondering why just one row?

I have (unknowingly) used my own version of SFG in the past and am eager to try this method with tomatoes. I know for rows I have used 4ft, each way, between tomatoes in the past. Leaving at least 4ft between any other plants or structures also. I use a 4ft piece of scrap 1x2 ($.51 @ Home Depot) when planting. Last year I tried 3ft between plants with 4ft between rows. Just too crowded. I also plant basil between plants and usu. only prune the very lowest branches. This year, I plan to try some the SFG way (I was thinking maybe 1 in each corner?), some 4ft between plants with 5ft between rows (because of dreaded diseases), and some using the upsidedown method to see which I prefer.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2005 at 8:34PM
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Ray_Scheel(z8b/SS31 E. TX)

A checkerboard can work, but that arrangement gets difficult when the tomatoes are full grown and you are trying to reach the shorter stuff on the alternate inside squares, but just at the corners sounds feasable. I run a trellis across and keep the tomatoes confined to that, but all my beds are longer (e.g. 4x10, 4x14, 4x17).

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 11:21AM
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ellen_(z5 NY)

I tried planting peppers within the tomatoes several years ago and they were dwarfs. I have 2 large gardens, both of which are rectangular. I plant my toms in double rows along the side of each one, leaving 18 inches between plants. If I want a second double row, I leave 2 feet and then creat the third and fourth row. I can't bring myself to prune them as much as the square foot method recommends. I grow mostly indeterminate varieties, so don't have short plants and get lots of shade between them.
But the shape of my beds helps in creating the double rows. I just plant everything else in 4-foot squares beyond the tomatoes.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 4:55PM
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shellva(Camden 7b/8a)

My beds are 4' x 8'. I am planting 4 tomatoes in one box this year. They will be staggered, planted in the center of 2 x 2 squares. I hope that makes sense? In the other unused squares I plan on putting marigolds and lettuce. I had some lettuce growing at the base of my tomatoes last year and was rather pleased with the results. Of course this was all by accident so I'll have to wait and see if purposeful plantings do just as well. I was harvesting lettuce into mid July last year.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2005 at 4:10PM
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Bethany873(Z6 RI)

wait, so if i'm reading this right, not many people really adhere to the SFG method of tomato planting? maybe i need to rethink my bed......i have 6 tomato plants in 12sq feet of space (basil and borage, both of which i prune ferociously, are interplanted)

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 2:43PM
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I'm going to try adhering to the SFG method (I think). I'm going to grow 2 cherry tomatoes and 2 brandywine tomatoes, each in their own square lined up against a 4ft trellis. The idea that you will get a higher yield per amount of space used (but lower yield per plant) makes sense to me, so I'm going to try it. Besides, I'm just about the only one in the family who will eat tomatoes anyway - so if it doesn't work out, I might have to ration myself a little, but at least I'll have SOME.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2005 at 5:40AM
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lantanascape(z6 Idaho)

I think 4 along the trellis should work. You might be able to find some varieties that don't have such rampant vegetative growth. A friend of mine grew Jaune Flamme last year, and I remember them being productive, but really just a twig with a few leaves as far as the veg. part. I'd be afraid of sun-scald, but in the Bay Area they'd probably work for you. From what I've read the Azoychka I'm growing this year will be similar, though maybe a little more robust. In your mild climate you should be able to get away with pruning off suckers like Mel recommends.

For the rampant ones... a large tomato cage takes up more than a square foot, so I think that tells the tale right there. Also, it just gets really hard to get in and harvest or work on the plants when they're only 1' apart.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2005 at 10:47AM
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farmerchad(z6 WV)

Thats what I figured. 1 Plant per square was just too good to be true. I think some interplanting will be done, lettuce and herbs mainly. Im also planning on tilling up a patch of earth along side the beds, amending the soil and planting additional tomatoes. I have to find somewhere to put 70 plants. : )

Thanks for all the input

    Bookmark   February 27, 2005 at 6:32PM
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garden_fever_girl(5 CO)

I have always adhered to the 1 ft rule for tomatoes in my gardens as an interplanting suggestion. I also prune my tomatoes as I go along, bigger plants don't neccessarily yield more fruit, just more leaves. I strongly suggest one plant of bee balm in or near your garden-- it gets big, but the year that I gardened next to someone who had one of the plants in our community garden was the year that I had the highest yields from my tomatoes-- It was marvelous, and once everything is pollinated, so you don't have to deal with the bees-- tear it out if need be.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2005 at 10:39AM
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