4'x8' - How many Tomatoes, Peppers, Squash is too many?

villain189February 14, 2011


Brand new to gardening and will be starting a 4'x8' Sq. Ft garden this summer.

If I were to have

5 Squares Tomatoes

4 Squares Sweet Peppers

2 Squares Hot Peppers

3 Squares Squash

Would that be too many tall plants for this size Sq Ft Garden? I could build 2 trellises in the north side of the garden. That would give me 8 squares with trellises.

Only the Tomato & Squash would need a trellis, correct? I'm not sure if putting the peppers in front of the tomatoes would drown them out? Would there be enough room for a square of Eggplant as well?

Other that the plants listed above was thinking of

8 - Lettuce/Baby Lettuce/Arugula

4 - Herbs

2 - Pole Beans

1 - Leek

1 - Cucumber

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Hi villain1889 and welcome to the forums.

Have you read the Square Foot Gardening book by chance? I cannot recall what it says - but I think you are way over-reaching with your gardening ideas here.

The tomatoes need to have at least a 2 x 2 area. I planted tomatoes last year two feet apart from each other and they all grew into one another. The bugs were awful as well (but I don't spray). So if you wanted four tomato plants, you'd need a 4 x 4 area for these alone.

Peppers are also the same way. They really need a 2 x 2 area for each plant. So in your 4 x 8 area, I would only plant four peppers and four tomatoes. That would pretty well max you out.

Now you could certainly plant a row of green beans, lettuce, or herbs around the borders while the tomatoes and peppers are growing to maximize space. I typically do that myself. If you allow six inches between lettuce or bush beans, you could have 16 plants on one side, 16 plants on the other side, and then 6 on each end - for a total of 38 additional plants. Leeks, onions, herbs, lettuce, and bush beans could be planted like this.

Here is a link that might be useful: BsnTech Gardening Blog

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 12:19PM
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Thanks. I did read the revised Sq Ft Gardening book and it did say 1 per square for tomatoes and peppers but I believe that it mentions trimming to one stem and regular pruning.

Good to know that might be too tight...I'll scale back my plans a bit.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 2:20PM
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rachel597(5A ME)

Hi Villain189!

I you would like, I can help plot out things for you to give you a visual to start with. If so, I have a few questions for clarification:

Will your tomatoes be determinate (bush type) or indeterminate (vineing type)?

As bsntech mentioned, determinate type will need at least 2x2 area per plant. The SFG book says 1 square for indeterminate tomatoes along a trellis is ok with some pruning, but I have found that 1.5 squares works better. They will still need some pruning. The last thing you want to do is crowd tomatoes. They need air circulation to prevent diseases.

What type of squash do you want to plant, will it be bush or vining?

Also, what type of herbs would you like to grow?

I grow my peppers and eggplant 1/square with great success in my area. I use the small tomato cages to help support them. They won't shade out the tomatoes too badly, but they will shade out smaller plants.

I'll be watching this thread for the additional info needed, then I can try to plot it out and post a picture.

GrafixMuse's Garden Spot Blog

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 6:47PM
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Hi Rachel,

Thanks for the offer that would be great. One other thing to point out. After thinking about the space and the fact that there will be 1 or 2 trellises along the north border I think it will make more sense to have a 3x8 (2 3x4's) garden. Depending how many vining plants I have I'll have either 4' or all 8' of the north side with trellis so if I went to 4x4 then it would be difficult to access that row in front of the trellis row. Also will work out better with giving me a bit more room for my aisles so I can make them 2.5-3' wide.

So let's plan for a 3'x8' Sq Ft garden. Coming from no vegetable garden I'm sure that will be plenty for my first year!

So to answer your questions.

The tomatoes will be vining type. Definitely at least 2 varieties, 3 if possible.

For squash I just checked and the varieties I was looking at were the bush type. Ideally 2 bush and 1 vining but if room is tight them 2 bush types. It seems like in general the summer squash are bush types while winter a vining? Vining is option..i could go all bush if it helps the layout.

Herbs I like Basil (favorite by far), Oregano, Cilantro, Parsley. And if I have room any other recommendations.

Would like to plant quite a bit of lettuce...enough for 2 people eating salads every night. Good combination of leaf, Arugula and Bibb/Butter lettuce.

Other than that some sweet peppers, hot peppers and one eggplant and one pole bean if there's room.

On the layout it would be 3x8 with good southern exposure. And I could trellis all 8 ft of the northern side or just 4ft. Whatever works best for the plants/layout.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 8:53PM
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Peppers in front of your Toms will do just fine - I do it every year without a problem. I've also found that I can manage my peppers in a 1x1 square. On the Toms, you can crowd them every foot and make due to a degree (maybe even to a very good degree with a lot of management - I have done it before), but I have to admit I think most Toms really deserve a 2x2 space.

One of the things to remember about square foot gardening is that if you space things more than the recommended amount, you can get more production out of your plants - but you'll get less production per square foot. So it's a tradeoff that's all about space.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 9:26PM
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One note about oregano -

Don't plan on it doing much of anything the first year. I just planted oregano for the first time last year and I put out about 64 seeds. From those, only one or two took. The seeds are extremely tiny.

Even then, the plant didn't get nearly large enough to use anything from. Oregano is a perennial and will come back the next year - and that is mostly when they take off. The one plant that made it is still surviving now - and it put out three or four 'runners' around the mother plant.

Here is a link that might be useful: BsnTech Gardening Blog

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 10:21PM
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rachel597(5A ME)

Hello again Villian189!

I am glad that you are rethinking the size of your beds. There are many knowledgeable people on this forum and I am sure you will receive some great advice. I am happy to share what works for me.

I have six 4x4 SFGs with paths wide enough to allow me to run a mower in between the gardens and kneel down at the edges of the garden and reach in to every square. I have a trellis at the north edge of most of these beds made out of 2x3s with nylon trellising for vertical plants.

I have found that planting 3 vining tomatoes along the 4-foot wide trellis works best. As gblack mentioned, you will get more production from each plant if they are given the room to thrive. I do prune the tomatoes a little and weave them into the nylon trellis as they grow and also wrap them with twine to the trellis supports.

The tomatoes do crowd the row of squares immediately in front of them by mid-growing season. So I plant spring greens in these squares (lettuces, arugula, spinach, etc.) before the tomatoes are planted out. If you keep the lower branches of the tomato plants trimmed, they will provide a nice shade canopy for the greens as the summer heats up.

Ok, according to Mel BartholomewâÂÂs The All-new Square Foot Gardening book, suggested plant spacing for the varieties you wish to grow are as follows:

Tomato plants, vine type = 1/square along a trellis
Summer squash, bush type= 1 in a 9 squares (3x3 area)
Winter squash, vining type = 1 in a 2 squares (1x2 area)
Basil = 4/square
Oregano = 1/square
Cilantro = 1/square
Parsley = 1/square
Peppers = 1/square
Eggplant = 1/square
Pole beans = 8/square along a trellis
Lettuce = 4/square

So, if I understood your latest post correctly, you plan on building two 3x4 SFG. This will give you 24 squares to work with. In this following suggestion, I have assumed you will have a trellis along the north side of each garden along the 4-foot side.

SFG 1:

Back squares: 3 vining tomato plants can be planted along the north side along a trellis.

Middle squares: 3 squares of greens and/or lettuces. 1 square herb.

Front squares: Peppers and eggplant, they will shade out your lettuce, but it may help keep the lettuce from bolting when the weather gets warm.


Back squares: Pole beans - plant these towards the back of the bed right along the trellis and they will only take up inches of your garden space and grow vertically.

Middle and Front two squares, plus extra room from the partial bean squares: 1 bush type squash (such as zucchini or yellow summer squash)

Remaining squares: herbs or a pepper.

This should get you started. Let me know what you think.

GrafixMuse's Garden Spot Blog

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 8:12PM
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rachel597(5A ME)

Oh, I forgot to explain the summer squash. They can spread out pretty far, but if you utilize a tomato cage I think you can get away with using 4 squares (2x2 foot) spacing.

EG shows how he does this on his blog: Our Engineered Garden

GrafixMuse's Garden Spot Blog

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 9:51PM
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I love the layout of SFG1! SFG2 looks great too...only question is could I only grow 1 square of pole beans?

And in place of that put a vining squash and cucumber?

Or if the vining squash would be too big put cucumber & pole beans on end of trellis. And something like broccoli or leeks in the middle trellis squares??


    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 10:25PM
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rachel597(5A ME)

Yes, you could easily reduce the number of bean squares and put a vining squash and cucumber along the trellis. I have grown cucumbers on a trellis with great success.

Once you have a basic layout, it's easy to swap squares around.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 7:34AM
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Thanks for the help Rachel! I'm using your layout as my starting point and will just be changing a couple squares around.

Definitely was a great help!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 4:12PM
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I am a little confused abt the determinate type tomato plant spacing. the book says 4 per square. and here you have mentioned 1 plant for 2 sqft?

This is my first time SFG. last few yrs did container gardening only.
I have few determinate tomatoes and vine type tomato plants,planning to grow okra,pole beans, green pepper, thai chilli.
How many thai chilli plant per square?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 7:19PM
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nilaa try reading the book again determinate tomatoes are 1 plant for 4 square foot in 2 ft x 2 ft block.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 3:07AM
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I planted 4 determinate tomato plants in one square foot: they would have be dwarf varieties.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 12:48AM
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Oh thankyou for pointing it out to me. so I guess to save the space it is better to plant indeterminate varieties rather than bush type?


    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 10:53PM
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