Growing two tomato plants in the space for one

labradors_gwFebruary 21, 2014

I've read a few comments where people plant two tomato plants in the planting hole that would normally accommodate one plant. This idea would certainly take care of my "extra" plants as it would be taking a chance to only germinate one seed of each variety.

Does anyone have any experience with this?

Linda

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tormato

Yes, I've tried it several times. Only in perfect weather is it worth the effort for good production.

Don't do it...unless you want to take the chance of having only a small sample of the two varieties. If your weather doesn't cooperate, production can be very low.

Also, if one plant is much more vigorous than the other, the weak one may so crowded out as to either produce nothing, or simply die.

This is for indeterminate plants. Also, unpruned.

Determinates might do OK, but I haven't tried it with any of those.

Gary

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 1:22PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Intentionally? No. Haven't and wouldn't either. Talk about a jungle of leaves and little production.

I suppose if you wanted to prue each to a single stem it might be possible but still not advisable.

Dave

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 2:30PM
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qaguy

I did it for one plant last year. Since it was the first year
growing it, I'm not sure what I should have gotten with
only a single plant. Hope that makes some sort of sense.

That said, the plants did grow well and produced well too.
In fact, the source of the seed was surprised at how large
it grew for me.

Like you, it pains me to throw out a perfectly good plant.

But common sense tells me that two plants competing for
the same root space and sun doesn't seem the best way to
do things.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 5:50PM
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labradors_gw

Thanks Gary, Dave and Gaguy.

I wasn't planning on pruning and I can understand the pitfalls entailed in planting this way. It would be so neat to be able to grow 40 different varieties instead of 20, but it might be difficult to discern which tomatoes belong to which plant!

I have grown two plants (of the same variety) in my containers, and that seems to be working well for two of them which are loaded with blossoms and fruit. The other one is a later variety that has hardly any blooms.....

Oh well! It was just a thought!

Linda

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 6:10PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

working well for two of them which are loaded with blossoms and fruit.

Indoors this time of year? What size container? What variety? And no BER? That is the usual first result of over-crowding.

Dave

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 6:32PM
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labradors_gw

One is a yellow cherry which is too big for the size of pot, but I was desperate to grow something, didn't have any seeds, so germinated some seeds from a home-grown tomato that I happened to have with me. It seems very happy apart from being too tall for the stakes.

The other is Dwarf Arctic Rose. Two plants are growing happily in the same 3 gallon pot, flowering and fruiting well. The tomatoes are still green, but I don't see any signs of BER.

I've grown Early Girl and Black Krim in 3 gallon pots over the winter in the past (one to a pot) and have never seen BER. I realize that the containers are too small, but I cannot lift anything bigger (to put it outside on sunny days). Production definitely suffered though.

Linda

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 7:06PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I THINK the argument that planting two tomatoes in one hill will pose a problem , from the standpoint of competition, is not valid and convincing, to me.

We plant number of other plants in clumps of 2 and 3 : example, tomato's own cousin potato, cucumbers, squash .... We have seen towering trees (maples, tulip trees, sycamores ...) grow together in clumps and they seem to be doing fine. So why not tomatoes ?

The only draw back, in my mind, might be the head space, if the plants are too vigorous and they are not pruned. But that can happen with a single plant too, if left on its own to grow without bounds.

In a fertile soil, a tomato plant does not need to grow miles of root if it can draw needed nutrients in a small space. The reason for plants root trying to spread/extend their roots is to maximize the uptake of nutrients needed. Of course, there is a limit as how many plants(tomatoes here) one can squeeze into a limited soil space. JMO

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 2:41AM
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BriAnDaren Ottawa, On Zone 5

One year, I grew ~100 tomatoes in groups of 3 or 4 plants per spot. They were all Sunsugar F2's since I wanted to see what the segregants were like. Some were tied up to stakes to make room, most were left to sprawl. Each spot was spaced about 2 feet away from the next spot, so not very well spaced. It was a huge mess.

I didn't/couldn't keep track of how many tomato came from each plant but I had A LOT of tomatoes to eat, give away and freeze that year.

Off topic: I found that Sunsugar segregants were either orange or red. Most fruit didn't seem as sweet as the original, but there were a few near the end of the season which I thought was very sweet. I saved seeds from those but was not impressed with the sweetness the following year.

I didn't notice any difference in terms of disease pressure due to multiple plants per spot. They did fine for most of the season, came down with leaf spots in the fall and lingered until the killing frost. This is the usual progression for our location.

If you're thinking of going multiple plants per spot, I say 'Go for it'. LOL.
Worse that could happen is that you'll end up severing the extra plant(s) to make room for the one you want to keep.

Daren

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 10:13AM
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tormato

Linda,

Discernment of varieties is not a problem with good planning. I've always either put two plants together having different colored fruit, or vastly different sizes/shapes.

Perhaps doubling up on some holes would be the best idea. If you doubled up half, I think that means 30 varieties. Also, almost all of my doubles were very large beefsteak types. Cherries and other small fruited varieties might do better.

I've never tried it, but planting a determinate SOUTH of an indeterminate in the same hole might work, if you can keep the indeterminate branches from shadowing the determinate plant.

So, I say give it a shot with at least one hole, in your sunniest location, with the most walk-around room.

Gary

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 10:37AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The other is Dwarf Arctic Rose. Two plants are growing happily in the same 3 gallon pot, flowering and fruiting well. The tomatoes are still green, but I don't see any signs of BER.

I've grown Early Girl and Black Krim in 3 gallon pots over the winter in the past (one to a pot) and have never seen BER. I realize that the containers are too small, but I cannot lift anything bigger (to put it outside on sunny days). Production definitely suffered though.

Ahhh, those are very important distinctions to make for the readers when making broad statements like "I have grown two plants (of the same variety) in my containers, and that seems to be working well for two of them which are loaded with blossoms and fruit." :)

Dwarf varieties are very different from trying to grow 2 of most varieties in the same small container.

Dave

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 11:26AM
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labradors_gw

Good thinking Gary. I could at least double up on the cherries (and bag my blossoms for seed-saving). There are SO many cherry varieties that I want to try!!!!!

Dave, you are right. Dwarf Arctic Rose seems perfectly suited to growing in a container in the first place, so growing two plants doesn't seem to be much of an imposition. The yellow cherry normally reaches a height of 6' in my garden, but is producing a lot of fruit.

I guess I would have problems growing two great big beefsteak plants in a container!!!!

Linda

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 12:49PM
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ABlindHog(8a Tx Hill Country)

Growing additional varieties without additional space is a possibility I have been thinking about too. I am considering grafting two or more plants to a single rootstock and would like to hear from anyone that has done the same. I have seen this done with citrus trees so it must be at least feasible to do with tomatoes. I would also like to hear opinions about the marketability of dual variety plants.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 4:58PM
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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

I plant 2 cherries in one hole every year. I usually do a red (super sweet 100), a yellow (lemon drop) a gold (sungold) and something else (this year and last it was black cherry). I put 2 plants in each hole/cage and usually do a little pruning in the beginning to make sure one doesn't get a quick start and over run the other.

My idea for doing this was to reduce production while still getting a lot of variety. I certainly can't keep up with 4 cherry plants and I can barely keep up with 2 "half-plants", so this lets me get a lot of different colors, save some space and limit my harvest time of cherries to only around 100 hours per week!!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 4:32PM
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labradors_gw

Thanks for the encouragement Bart,

I was wondering whether to plant my cherry tomatoes 1' apart or two to a planting hole. My garden is 12' wide, and it would be great to try out 11 or 12 varieties this summer. As you suggest, the quantity of tomatoes isn't that important, I just want to see if I like the taste, and this would be a way to double my numbers. I might even try to prune them to one stem.

Linda

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 6:15PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

This is a very good discussion, I think.
Some of us (like I), would like to try more varieties that we have real estate for. I have a limited garden space and almost unlimited want to try so many varieties. So by planting TWO in place of ONE is like BUY ONE GET ONE FREE. lol. So that is what I am going to try, plus plant some container type determinats.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 7:42PM
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lucille(Houston)

Glad you decided it can be done after telling me that tomatoes HAVE to be thinned. Being flexible makes good gardeningâ¦

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing two plants together

This post was edited by lucille on Tue, Feb 25, 14 at 20:57

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 8:55PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Glad you decided it can be done after telling me that tomatoes HAVE to be thinned. Being flexible makes good gardeningâ¦
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Sure. It is good to be flexible, but this is not a departure from my fundamental practice.
I believe in pruning tomato plants and I have always advocated planting them in tighter spacing than conventional method. I usually allow one or two branches in addition to the main stem. So planting two of them in the same hill, fits my philosophy fine. I am not so much for the foliage and HUGE top, as it makes some gardeners happy.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 2:03AM
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