Plant Spacing in Raised Bed

jb32172April 14, 2008


I am very new to gardening. I am going to plant in two 4 by 8 foot raised beds. One is for peppers and the other for tomatoes. How many plants should i put in each bed? thanks for your time.

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Depends on variety, type and growth culture used.

Some folks would stake 10 or more. Some of those folks would wish they hadn't. I'd cage a staggered row of six and cuss that for being too close.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 8:08AM
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P.S. Common peppers don't get as big as most tomato varieties and can deal with closer spacing.

There should be instructions on the seed pack or plant marker. Yes?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 8:14AM
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vtguitargirl(Z4b VT)


I use 4 x 8 raised beds for tomatoes & peppers.

DO you plan on planting bush tomatoes or vine tomatoes? That could make a big difference in your plant spacing. I like to grow a few heirloom tomatoes which are usually viney.

One thing I did that worked very well (on my 3rd year now) is this:

I situated length of my raised beds facing south. I put in a trellis that runs the length of the bed. Placed it about 12-18 inches from the north side of the bed frame. I grew 4-5 tomato plants on the trellis on the north side of the bed and grew shorter plants such as peppers & eggplant on the south side of the bed. Worked great for me.

For my trellis I cut an 8 ft section of cattle panel with bolt cutters & installed 2 T posts to hang the cattle panel onto.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 10:21AM
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Here's what works best for me:

Peppers: 2 feet apart.

Tomatoes: 4 feet apart.

Any closer you increase odds of disease and you reduce yield. Don't forget these plants have root systems.

Further apart and you start wasting space.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 11:12AM
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I've sqeezed 8 toms in a 8x3 bed. (if you cut a 8 foot piece of lumber in thirds; its around 3 feet and easier to access than 4 feet) Pretty crowded, especially when the cages start falling over..
You can mix peppers and toms in the same beds. Hot peppers don't get very big and mine have no pests.

Please make it stop raining and get warm. We have a freeze warning for tonite 28
If you're going to save seeds you may have several new varieties next year:>

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 8:38PM
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Much depends on how you intend to support and manage the plants. If you can make an overhead support and train plants as a single stem by removing all of the suckers you can feasibly put twice as many plants in the raised bed as with a caged system and three times as many than an unmanaged sprawl garden.

Don't worry about crowding the roots. They can always be fed to support very dense planting. Its all about the mass of vegetation that intertwines and sprawls all over everything as the plants continue to grow. For that very reason I'd keep a separate bed just for tomatoes with an exception that you might get by with an early short season companion crop like radishes or arugula.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 9:12PM
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rexx(CA 10)

I have a 3' x 8' raised bed in which I chose to plant 3 tomato plants. I've planted more than that in the past and regretted it, but I'm not a big pruner. This year I will prune moderately.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 11:15PM
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I have some 4'x8' beds in which I can grow 5 tomatoes along one edge, either trellised on a cattle panel or tied suspended from an overhead board wired to tall T-posts. The unused side of the bed is used for something short, like peppers, bush beans, eggplant, broccoli etc. Since I do very little pruning, except for stray lower suckers, I wouldn't double up my rows in one bed, too big a tangle and hard to get in to pick the tomatoes in the middle. If you plan to grow only to a central stem and prune heavily, you could do it.

Tomatoes sharing beds with eggplant and hot peppers from last year.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 12:27AM
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yardenman(z7 MD)

I use 22" diameter cages for my tomatoes. In a 8'x2' framed bed, I can fit 4. In my normal 8'x3' beds it is still 4 plants, but they have a little more room and I plant lettuce and small stuff all around. Never noticed any productivity differences, though.

Bell peppers can go 1 per square foot just fine. 10" cages help support the plants though. Mine fall over with the mature fruits if I don't cage them.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 12:54AM
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disneynut1977(5b, Sunset zone 42)

I have been working on a solution for this myself. I have beds (6x4 & 8x4) that are devoted to only tomatoes. I only put indeterminates in too. The first year was horrible. Not enough sun. Second year, I moved the bed to an area that got 3 more hours of sun, but planted my tom's way to close. I crammed 15 plants into a 6x4 bed. This year, I am making 3 brand new beds 8x4 (8 plants per bed) with 4' aisles in between each bed. I plan on giving each tom plant a 2x2' square and tying them to a 7' 2" stake. These beds will be getting 8-9 hours direct sun. I had been pruning very, very heavy. This year, since they will have a 2x2' section each, I "think" I might leave every fourth sucker on(except for the cherry plants)?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 4:25PM
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bluemater(z5 IL)

I have a 3X5 bed and plant 6 indeterminate heirlooms and I get good yield but also sucker a lot to control for growth...I also use Gardener's Supply red mulch which does help stimulate growth and improve yield.

Depth of soil is very important bed is a good 30" deep at least and I add lots of new organic matter every spring and also in the fall so it can "rest" over the winter (besides using good organic fertilizer during the growing season)...I also mix in gel crystals to absorb excess water and have 1/4" drip emitter tubing snaked throughout the bed to irrigate when necessary but I find that with my soil being so deep I rarely have to add water -- it's almost like dry farming, which improves the flavor of the 'maters...

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 7:34PM
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rexx(CA 10)

Wow. 30" is deep. I have about 9" above ground and another foot of native soil with compost turned in below.

Looks like I have erred on the side of caution with my spacing. You can see that I have three plants in 24 square feet -- with cages directing the plants out of the box.

Powdery mildew and bacterial speck have vexed me for the past three or four years.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 8:35PM
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bluemater(z5 IL) year add another level -- that's what I has really made a difference by providing consistent moisture which helps keep down BER and I think improves the flavor of the fruit...

Your three plants will have the luxury of the space this year which surely won't hurt...

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 10:00AM
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penserosa(z6 NJ)

Every year is a new experiment. This year I have densely planted maters in my 8x8 raised bed. I have 4 sections of tomatoes growing vertically: 4 Romas, 3 Big Boy (was more than that but I, uh, pruned off the main stem and they never recovered), 4 beefsteak, and 5 cherries (didn't know how prolific they were!). In the same bed I have 7 pepper plants (some of which are too shaded from tomato plants), 3 basil plants, some beets, carrots, and bush beans. I also stuck some lettuce seeds in the shade of the tomato plants. There's an 18" path right down the middle.

So far, so good. I do not have the yield I see in some of y'all's photos, but it's not bad, either. The plants all seem to be healthy. Follow link for photos.

In the fall I need to reorganize b/c the frame timbers are rotting. I'm thinking of using square foot spacing and am wondering if anyone here does that? I realize that some of the most successful people here do not - I'm thinking of those giant cages digdirt and others make - and of course the self-watering containers.

Are there any square foot gardeners on this board?


Here is a link that might be useful: Pat's garden pics

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 12:27PM
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jwstell42(5 NY)

There is a forum here dedicated to square foot gardening.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 2:43PM
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penserosa(z6 NJ)

Yes, but I wondered whether any of our particularly tomato-mad gardeners used it...

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 2:48PM
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