How Many Tomato Plants Are Enough?

GawdinFever(z5b/St. Louis, MO)March 2, 2008

I know this is a dumb question, but for the life of me, can't make up my mind! We have five people in our family, and we are all the same in that we can make a meal out of just tomatoes!

Suggestions?

So far, I have these seeds:

Super Beefsteak

Better Boy Hybrid

Black Russian

Brandy Boy

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Do you do any canning, drying, or freezing or are you all just interested in fresh eating?

Dave

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 5:04PM
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GawdinFever(z5b/St. Louis, MO)

We freeze a lot and and had wanted to try canning this year.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 5:15PM
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vipvenom

I have ~2 doz tomato plants of various types with about 50% being cherry types. This gives me about as many fresh tomatoes as I can eat personally and a couple times per week I give some to my parents, girlfriends parents and maybe someone else. I get tons of cherry tomatoes but not as many larger sized ones. So I would say about 12 plants will give you enough fresh tomatoes as your family can eat! If you want to can I would do at least 2doz plants. I have no experience canning nor am I am expert on tomatoes :) So take my advice for what it's worth.

Let us know how many you decide to grow.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 5:29PM
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plantermunn

When you walk three circles around the yard with four tomato plants in one hand and a shovel in the other and can't find a place to plant them you have enough.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 6:21PM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

Good question! I can't help saying that I haven't reached the enough point yet- by which I mean that mine have not produced enough yet. So, I moved my garden and am starting in a new place w/ more room. But, the problem isn't the plants, it is the soil and now I'm starting over... on the other hand, I've learned quite a bit in the meantime and hope they will produce better this summer. For good eating, I suggest you add Lemon Boy- delicious! And Brandy Boy is a big favorite of mine.
I like to have enough to eat and enough to supply anyone who asks. Good luck! Brandy

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 7:05PM
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dirtbert(z4)

I can a lot of tomatoes (sauces and such) and I don't think I've EVER had enough...LOL
I usually have room for about 16 plants and this year I may just double that to make sure I have enough for my canning.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 7:10PM
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booberry85(5)

I think Plantermunn has the right idea! Plant them until you can't fit anymore!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 7:28PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

I'd add a yellow typed or bicolored like pineapple, a white one like white queen, and a green when ripe tomato like aunt ruby's german green. Then next year you could try another one. It's so pretty to have all the colors sliced up together and you can do your own taste test since you all like tomatoes so much.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 7:28PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Plant as many varieties as you can of the 1000's to choose from and if you will be canning and freezing then I would shoot for a minimum of 50 plants. More if you have the room. There is never enough. ;)

Dave

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 7:42PM
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PGibbons(8a - Louisiana)

I'm the wrong person to be answering this question. I am single and I have about 500 seedlings in the greenhouse. I always try to grow around 25 different varieties and plant at least 4 of each then I give the remainder away. I have the room to plant all 500 but I don't have the time to care for them.

Patrick - Shreveport, La.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 10:32PM
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naturalstuff(Z6 / CT)

5 in the family? Do 3 of each of the ones you mentioned. Sometimes you'll get a plant that won't produce many. So instead of regretting not doing more, it's better to do more of.

If you have room do 4 each. If not, then do 3 each. Post some pics if you can.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 7:55AM
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barkeater(Z3b VT)

If you'll be canning too, 5 tomato plants per person should be the absolute minimum!

I finally found how many are too many for one person: 44.

I'm backing off to 30-32 this year, but will still have plenty extra to share. For me alone, I'd say 18-20 is about right.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 8:52AM
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davidandkasie(Z8 MS)

well, i planted about 80 last year and this year will be about the same. i have to room and it is actually easier for me to do a large number of plants as my garden is setup with 100 ft rows and i prefer to put the same basic things on a row. we had a major drought last year so i lost some to that and some to a couple of dogs that decided to wrestle inteh garden. year before last i had 120 plants out.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 1:29PM
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suburbangreen(8)

If I had the space I would plant 30 I think. I only have enough space for half that though.
I'm the only big tomato eater in my family(although my 2-year-old daughter shows great promise (;
Plant more if you have the room. You can scale back next year if you want.

Pete

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 5:54PM
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corin99(7b Triangle NC)

I'm single and plant 10-12. It gives me enough for fresh eating and enough canned sauce (maybe 20 pints) for the rest of the year. But my growing season is 6 months long and my main crop comes from a variety that performs very well for me here (Arkansas Travelers).

If you're just starting, you probably wouldn't want to can as much per person as I do. It would be 100 pints and it would become a major project. So I'd say 30 minimum and 50-60 if you want to go all out.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 6:39PM
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lightt(6/7 Northern VA)

Gawdinfever,
Not a dumb question but in my opinion way too variable to be answered with any real credence.

Virginia Tech's co-op extension page has a chart to calculate the number of various veggies to grow for specific yield. Personally, I don't think it's of any value in that it suggests 3-7 plants (at 15-45 pounds per plant) per person which calculates out for a family of five to 15-35 plants which would yield (according to their figures) the very narrow margin of between 225 and 1575 pounds of tomatoes!!!!

And if youÂre able to duplicate that Aunt GertieÂs Gold Earl grew a couple of years ago and get 80 pounds of tomatoes off each plant, 35 of them will give you a whopping 2800 pounds of tomatoes -- or 560 pounds per person!!!!!! On the other hand, if you grew 35 of the single MariannaÂs Peace I grew last year youÂd get a grand total of approximately 42 pounds of tomatoes.

Terry Light
Oak Hill, Virginia

Here is a link that might be useful: Va Tech Extension

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 9:02AM
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GawdinFever(z5b/St. Louis, MO)

"And if youÂre able to duplicate that Aunt GertieÂs Gold Earl grew a couple of years ago and get 80 pounds of tomatoes off each plant, 35 of them will give you a whopping 2800 pounds of tomatoes -- or 560 pounds per person!!!!!!"

Most people would say that's way too many! Personally, sounds like heaven to me! LOL

Well, I wound up planting 24 containers. 3-5 seeds per container since I didn't want to take chances with a lot not germinating. But I also shot Trudi an offer for a tomato six-pak SASE. I'm so excited!

We've been working on getting the beds ready since this past summer. Added all kinds of garden soil, compost, manure and we started composting ourselves! I've got flower beds all over the place, but there is still plenty of areas with full sun for mucho tomato plants. I think I'm going to follow plantermunn's example:

"When you walk three circles around the yard with four tomato plants in one hand and a shovel in the other and can't find a place to plant them you have enough."

I'll post pictures this summer! Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 12:22PM
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loagiehoagie(S.E. Michigan)

Last year I cut back to around 55 plants. This year I will squeeze in around 145 in my suburban oasis. And it is just me and my wife. Can't get enough homegrown tomatoes, mostly heirlooms but some hybrids in the mix. Love to share and do some canning and processing. The problem is when you get into the hobby there are so many varieties to try, cutting back is difficult.

Good luck!

Duane

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 7:51PM
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fusion_power

This year I am cutting way back. I only have 32,000 plants in the greenhouse and will only put 1000 of them in the garden. People keep telling me that is too many, but I know better. 250 plants last year were barely enough. This year I intend to have all I can eat and all I can freeze and all I can can and all I can save seed from. The seed saving is the bummer. It takes a LOT of tomatoes to produce 4 ounces of seed per variety.

This picture only shows about 3000 seedlings. It was taken in direct sun so the seedlings look pretty washed out. They are really a beautiful green color.


DarJones

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 10:30PM
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westtexan(7b)

Wow! I love this picture! Where in 7b do you live? Just curious. I bought a packet of mixed tomato seeds at WalMart. It's some Burpee collection with 2 pastes (yellow and orange), a slicer (Razzle Dazzle), and 2 smaller or cherry tomatoes in it. The only problem is that out of 13 seeds, only 9 sprouted...so I had to go back and get another pack just to be sure I got at least one of each kind to grow. ;) That was only Sunday so none of those are up yet. Add those to my 6 Big Mama and 3 San Marzano...that maeks 18 plants with hopefully at least 10 more (only 12 seeds in the second pack). I can't even imagine the time and effort to start 32000 plants when I can't even get more than 9 out of 13 to grow.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 1:42PM
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brazosvalleygardener(TX Zone 8)

Darrel,

How many greenhouses to you have? If I remember correctly, didn't you acquire one that was already set up a couple of years ago? It that the one in the photo?

Jay

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 1:50PM
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fusion_power

yes Jay, this is the greenhouse I bought nearly 3 years ago now. It needs new plastic after this season. I put new 6 mil on it early in 2007. I will get 10 mil next time.

The greenhouse is only 35 feet long by 23 feet wide. I heat it with a wood heater.

Here are links to a few more photos if you want to see them. I have potted up about 5,000 more plants in the last few days.

As previously noted, several of these were taken in very bright sunlight.

DarJones










    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 10:19PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

I've got 27 seedlings growing right now. I had 24 plants last year in my super tiny back yard. I was sticking them in 5-gallon buckets, various pots, corners around my trellis, close together.. anywhere possible. The yellow pear and cherry type produce pretty good in pots if you're cramped for space. You will have to watch the pot moisture closely as they dry out very fast though.

This year I am planning to grow a half dozen inside my arch trellis out of fertilized, rotting straw bales and coax the plants to grow up strings to the top of the inside of the trellis. On the outside of the trellis I want to try growing some as single vines by growing them 12" apart and making sure no branch extends more than 8" from either side of the vine. Thats how the SFG book suggests squeezing them in, so I'll give it a try. Here's a visual of my trellis. You can see some sungold growing next to it (they didn't really use the trellis for much support at all)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 2:03AM
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brazosvalleygardener(TX Zone 8)

Darrel, with you being a one man show, I don't know how you do it. I bet you keep the coffee pot going.

I've managed hundreds of plants, but thousands, I would probably be pulling my hair out.

Jay

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 11:48AM
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manny_g_77

LOL
You guys put my 13 plants to shame. I thought I was over doing it. Now I am feeling a bit inadequate so I am off to buy more plants and till up another section for a garden.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 4:12PM
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dave1mn2(5b-6a)

Last yr. 14 kept 2 of us with plenty to eat and share until the squirrels found em.

After that, they became pretty dear.

I'm hoping 40 will suffice.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 5:07PM
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nc_steph

Last year, I planted 15, plus 4 more grown late in the season in containers on the deck from cuttings of the "main crop." Not near enough tomatoes for the two of us. This year, my dh built 10 self watering containers (Thanks, Josho!) and so will double the number. I have limited sun due to the strange orientation of our house (faces SE) and a backyard shaded by huge trees on three sides. We are hoping by using the containers, we can situate them such that we increase our yield. The more 'maters the better.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 12:09PM
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larryw(z6Ohio)

Undoubtably I am touched! In addition to this unmanageable
addiction to growing and colecting tomatoes in am a gun nut type.

Oddly enough, there are common elements to these two manias.
Just a couple weeks ago, while jostling myself through the clogged narrow rows in a gunshow I overheard a conversation
about like this: Guy #1 says "My wife is gonna kill me for buying this gun. After all, how many d--- guns does a man need. I can't even find room to keep them anymore". So
guy #2 older and somewhat grizzled-- answers "John, you're
gonna find out in time that you always need one more. And
you'll go on and buy just one more. And that's just the way it is."

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 9:49AM
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raisemybeds(SouthernCT)

Well, from one point of view there are never really enough because you always want to grow something new in addition to your favorites. On the other hand, you have to be realistic about how much space you have and how much work you want to do. I have pared down over the years to around 20 plants, and I used to grow 50 but that proved too unmanageable because I had to put some in large containers and drag them around the yard to chase the movement of the sun each day. Now I just plant in the designated specially built tomato beds in a full sun area and let that be enough. For my family, 20 plants is more than enough production. Don't forget the attention you must give to the other things you grow besides tomatoes! Note: if I lived on a farm none of this would apply!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 12:50AM
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newatthiskat

Westtexan. I also bought that combo pack from wally world. do you remember the tomatoes that were in the package? mine was accidentally thrown away and now I can not find anymore.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 5:45AM
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vegjoe

I'm planning to have about 50 this year. There is always another variety I find and HAVE to plant. I pack 'em in until I can't get another wedged in anywhere!!

There are only two of us. We eat a lot of tomatoes and pasta with tomato sauce. We also give lots away.

My friend's son is a chef. He is interested in getting heirlooms for his catering business this year. Perhaps I'll be able to sell a few.

It doesn't really matter. I just love gardening and seeing the vegetables grow.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 7:48AM
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GawdinFever(z5b/St. Louis, MO)

Well, I wound up only putting in 20 plants. Got to thinking about what raisemybeds said about 'other things I'm growing'. That, and I picked up a lot of extra hours at work. So we'll see.

I've never had more than say eight Tom plants at a time. I dunno. Maybe I will pick up several more. The twenty I've planted so far I grew from seed. Some I threw away were kinda scrawny looking.

I'm sitting at my computer staring out into the yard at some extra space....hmmm

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 7:09PM
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GawdinFever(z5b/St. Louis, MO)

What is the closest you can plant them and still be healthy and productive???

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 7:11PM
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k2marsh

Hi Dave,

How did you manage keeping the squirrels from eating your tomatoes, or did you just plant enough for you and them?

Last year I planted 9 tomato plants and that was not enough for two people.

This year I have 13 planted so far. I am running out of space.

See my Flicker PhotoÂs. This is how I kept the squirrels from eating my tomatoes last year, but I started to late.

Karyl

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomatoes under chicken wire

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 8:32PM
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candiecane

I am new to gardening (this year being my second)
I didnt grow up gardening and have no previous experience.
In comparison to many of your stories and sizes I
am thinking my garden is small at 55'x55'.
I planted 50 tomato
plants last year and lost many of them to bloom rot.
I have taken measures this year to help with that.
Keeping my fingers crossed that I have better luck.
So in answer to your question "How many tomato plants
are enough?" well I can't answer that because being
single and having planted 50 plants I tend to go
overboard possibly. With many other things in my
garden I found that this number was plenty for my
canning of salsa.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 9:21PM
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instar8(Z 5 N.IN)

I did about 60 last year, but really could've done a lot more juice and sauce, and didn't have nearly enough medium sized tomatoes to can whole.

It wouldn't be a stretch for me to drink a quart of juice every other day, plus enough for soup and chili, then some for my boyfriend, sister, two grown kids, and assorted friends i share with, especially if they come help me can!

So this year, i have about 125 plants, I'll keep about 90,and have a lot of promises for help to process, plus a motorized strainer (AWESOME ) and a propane turkey fryer thing i can use for cooking down sauce OUTSIDE to save on A/C bills.

And i'll probably STILL be out of tomato stuff next April, like i was this year!

But if you're just doing fresh, one productive plant per person, and a couple extra (heck, you can always freeze 'em if you don't like canning), maybe a cherry for snacking,(I take cherry tomatoes and Baby Belle peppers to work with me every day in the summer)...a nice firm plum type like Opalka for salsa and bruschetta...

MY most productive and tasty:

Caspian Pink
Chapman
Neves Azorean Red
Big Beef

Favorite cherry

Santa Lucia

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 9:38PM
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rjinga

I bought 88 plants and ended up planting about 60, gave some away and still have some in big containers...Last year I planted 8 and had a handfull of tomatoes at a time, never enough to can or do anything with. I lost a big cherry tomatoe to some leaf footed bug...In July I planted whatever I could find left over at the box stores and garden centers, I had a few tomatoes at a time through Christmas...but they were planted in an area that got too much shade...This years 60 are in a 8 month old lasagne bed that is about 25 x 40, I saved part of this space for my 20 or 30 peppers that I'm getting ready now.

I was about to give up on some seedlings (all the above was from several different places, not home grown) and now I have about a dozen thriving babies...they may be my late crop :)

When I started out, I was crying about not being able to find any good varieties out there, and ended up with many heirlooms afterall...as well as a bunch of others that sounded good to me

I just planted another 30 or so heirloom seeds, so we shall see what comes. I go back and forth between thinking that I've over done it this year...but I'm holding my tongue until I see what happens.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 10:58PM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

I actually cut back this year to provide more spacing. I think the plants will be healthier with a 3-4' spacing, and I'll grow 10 medium to large types, plus a few cherry. None of them go to waste, and I now collect the water that I drain from them when making sauce or salsa and I substitute it for tap water when making navy bean soup, unbelievable difference.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 11:18PM
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maupin(z6 So. IL)

"How Many Tomato Plants Are Enough?"
Always the same answer---1 more.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 4:50PM
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Iris Hendry

LOL you guys make me feel better ... I was thinking something was wrong with me ... this is the first year I have a HUGE garden spot and not just a sunny corner of the backyard to plant in ... I started out indoors in february with some seeds( july 4 , beefsteak, grape and big boy ) and got about 12 of the biggest plants in the ground about 10 days ago along with a few additions like rutgers and celebrity that I picked up at the greenhouses ... THEN I read about cherokee purple, brandywine and mortgage lifter on this forum ( thanks ;-) ) so I had to make a quick run to the Amish greenhouses and pick a few of them up ... stopped at KMart for more manure and while there saw their tomato plants , they had lemon boy, well you know I had to pick one up ... may go back and get a few more .... so far I have 16 plants in the garden with a few more left to plant this weekend ... this is for 2 of us ( we love tomatoes ) ...well you get the picture ... just one more is my new motto LOL I am loving it !

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 7:55AM
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gardenlily_2008

"When you walk three circles around the yard with four tomato plants in one hand and a shovel in the other and can't find a place to plant them you have enough."

that's what I do! I have about 2 dozen tomato plants and no where to put them!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 8:48PM
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wetclayz5(z5 Ohio)

Funny that I should respond. I'm not a huge tomato fan (poisonious till cooked) tho' I do enjoy the grape varieties. OTOH my wife inhales all fresh tomatoes.

My contribution is that different tomato types have very different yields. The indeterminate types just get bigger & bushier and more productive until frost. The determinate varieties produce a far less pounds plant, but also a bit less per square yard.

So perhaps the question should be ... how many square yards per tomato lover ?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 7:25PM
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kawaii_fruit(9-TX Gulf Coast)

Whew...I thought I was going a bit overboard with ::counts in head:: I think, 20? Oh...and that's not counting the 6 suckers I'm trying to root for some later season tomatoes. I guess next year I'm going to have to plan earlier, so I can have more varieties (including more heirlooms) and maybe more like 30-35 plants. I would add more now, but I don't have much more room. The other veggies would like some attention too. :-)
Oh, and those 20 are just for fresh eating for 2 people. I didn't get any paste tomatoes--just cherries and slicers.

Shae

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 11:28PM
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kygirl99

I had 27 tomato plants last year. Six were romas, two were supersweet 100's, one was yellow pear, and the rest were either big heirlooms or hybrid, but mostly heirlooms. I was feeding just myself and my husband and I liked having some to share with family and friends on occasion and plenty for freezing/canning. I was so glad I planted that many in the end, because I didn't account for the ones that ended up with blossom end rot due to the drought we experienced last summer, nor the ones that the tomato worms would ruin, or the ones that the birds/squirrels/rabbits would nibble on. I ended up with just enough for ourselves, and some for GOOD friends and family, and I froze about 20 quarts of tomatoes and 10 pints of tomato sauce.

So, this year I have, I think, 42 tomato plants. I need to recount with my latest purchase. But I decided to grow more so that I'd definitely have plenty for us and the critters and pests. Plus, I just love to grow different varieties.

This is my long-winded way of saying plant at least 30 plants for a big supply of tomatoes. In perfect circumstances, 15 might do you fine, but you never know what weather or animal factors might come into play.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 9:24AM
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