Tomato Spacing

robinava(6B)April 25, 2014

Just finished putting up my first row of cattle panels but do not know what spacing to use between rows. If I put them too close I would assume that one would block the sun from the other?

I also have a separate raised bed which is 4x8. I placed one panel on the 8' side and would like to know if second panel can fit in that 4' space?


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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I think you can plant one row of tomatoes along the panel side and plant things like eggplants, peppers, .. on the other side ?

Depending on your style and spacing preference, You might want to plant 3 to 6 tomatoes next to the panel. . You are not going to gain a lot, by installing a trellis on 4ft end. So to me it won't have a pay off.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:03PM
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Seysonn, actually I am talking about two separate locations fro these panels which I did not make very clear on my post. My new garden is approximately 13x 16. I placed the first panel on the 13'side which is 2' from the perimeter fencing. Would like to install a second panel in front of it but don't know how close to place it. My concern is possibly blocking the sun if it is too close.

Second question is regarding panels on a raised bed which is 4x8. I installed the first panel flush to the 8' side and was wondering if I could put in a second panel perhaps 1' from the front edge. This would give me approximately 21/2' between panels.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:57PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Sorry but I am having difficulty getting the picture. How many rows of cattle panels are we talking about in what size bed? Are you going to plant on both sides of each panel or not.

A 4x8 bed can hold 1/2 of a a standard 16' long panel 2 ways. (a) running down the 8' center of the bed with plants on either side of it. or (b) running down one side of the bed with plants only on one side of it and maybe a foot left over in front of those plants for some small low-growing crop.

I can't see how there would be nearly enough room for 2 panels plus plants in a bed only 4' wide. It would make access for picking and tying and treating the plants almost impossible.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 6:28PM
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Part of my garden consists of raised beds, one 4x8 and two 2x8. The north side of each of these has a section of cattle panel to act as a trellis.

They worked fine as a trellis for tomatoes, and 'in front' (i.e. south) of the tomatoes I planted bushy items (squash, eggplant, sweet potatoes). However, I found that the vines outgrew the trellis, and this year I added a trellis made of 1x2 pressure treated wood. There are 4 verticals, each about 8 ft tall, held together with a crosspiece at about 6 1/2 feet up. I cut the ends at an angle just so they looked better. The outer two vertical members are fastened to the crosspiece with eye bolts, from which I run a cord to an eye screw inside the wood of the raised bed. I plan to use the cord as a trellis, too; in one bed I already have a Tommy Toe cherry tomato growing up the cord, and I'll be using other cords in a similar manner to grow vining squash.

The uprights are held to the cattle panel fencing with nylon zip ties (the black ones are supposed to be okay for outdoors.)

This is my first year doing it this way, so I don't know how well it will work. But I agree with dave, having two cattle panels inside a 4x8 space would be pushing it, and make more problems than it would address.

Those are snow peas running rampant, and I have a little tomato plant in front of each 1x2 member.

This post was edited by arley on Sat, Apr 26, 14 at 10:40

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:17AM
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I also used cattle panels bent into a 'gothic arch' and placed it in between raised beds. All the vining plants went crazy for it: tomatoes, cucumbers, pole beans) bitter melon, even cantaloupe (although the cantaloupe yield was not great, the vines loved it).

You can see that the arches are between six boxes, each 5 foot long by about 16 inches deep. If I were to redo that today, I'd just use sixteen foot 2x12 or 2x10 to make one long box, and also make the beds about 2 feet wide. Sixteen inches is okay for just tomatoes, but if you want another item in the box like eggplants it really is crowded.

Sources for oddball stuff: stainless steel eye bolts/eye screws and other fasteners available from the Bolt Depot online. Huge selection, much bigger than the local hardware store. Cords: 1/8 inch dacron polyester cord from the Rope Guy's Warehouse online: lots of odd lots of cordage that you won't find locally, all good quality and very reasonably priced. The little red cord tension adjusters are designed for tent pole guy cords, available from camping suppliers, Amazon and eBay.

This post was edited by arley on Sat, Apr 26, 14 at 10:35

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:33AM
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Arley, thanks for the great photos. What a wonderful functional garden you have planned for yourself. I see that you put the posts on the outside of the boxes and I understand why, this was a good idea as they serve a dual purpose and left more room in the raised beds. I placed my posts on the 8' length side but inside the box. Had I seen your photos a week ago I would have included the arch. The panels sit 12" above ground level but I do intend to run either a wire or a string at 6". I will follow your and Dave's advice and only do one panel per box.

Be cautious about using treated wood as it is loaded with carcinogen chemicals which will contaminate the soil and your veggies.

Dave I had made a note awhile back when you mentioned that the panels should start no higher than 6" above ground so I will compensate with the additional wire or string.

Seysonn, will plant 4 tomatoes on the 8' panel with the smaller
veggies in front. This will give me 24" between plants.

Thanks everyone for all of your great advice.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 8:43PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Be cautious about using treated wood as it is loaded with carcinogen chemicals which will contaminate the soil and your veggies.

Robin - The concerns/ban against CCA pressure treated wood use was lifted in 2002 when the process was banned by the government. Current treatments are considered quite safe for both garden and playground use.

So unless you have some very old CCA wood lying (which is also probably safe to use by now) around is it no longer considered a safety issue.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:01PM
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Can I safely plant tomatoes with 2' spacing? I would like to plant 4 tomatoes on my 8' panel? Would this spacing compromise the tomatoes and leave them susceptible to fungal diseases? Three on each panel is probably better but it would certainly give me less than I want.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 1:55PM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

From what I have read "4 square feet per plant" is optimum in greenhouse conditions. I guess every bit we give them beyond that we give ourselves some slack, without trying to achieve optimum.

I have very little room, and so for me it is a production or variety tradeoff.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 2:29PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

You can use 2' if you wish but IME you will have to prune to fewer stems to avoid all the crowding. Personally I use 3' but I have extra room and don't wish to prune mine.

And if you run the panel down the center of the bed you can get 6, 3 on each side alternated in spacing. No need for the back of the panel to sit vacant.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 5:11PM
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Dave, the panel is 5'6" above ground level and I placed it flush to the backside of the raised bed so it is only being used on the one side. That be said , what a great idea using both sides. Question for you, determinates grow very tall and will spill over the top and down the other side, wouldn't this be a tangled mess if I grew them on both sides??? It is still not too late to change the panels to the center.
Thanks for your feedback too John.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 6:54PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

IME they drape back down the side the plant is on not the other side. I think it all depends on how you tie them.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 7:06PM
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