How many tomatoes per plant?

thetunaguyApril 29, 2008

IÂm sure happy to find this site. You guys and gals sure know your Tomatoes. Got a quick question for you expert tomato growersÂ

IÂm going to be planting about 40 tomato plants, most will be heirloom tomatoes, (5) San Marzano, (5) San Marzano Redorta, (5) La Roma and (3) JulietÂs. These are going to be used for canning.

I would have started some more San Marzano and San Marzano Redorta in my seed starter kit but I only had room 25 plants and some didnÂt germinate and I started late.

How many tomatoes do you think I could get out of these plants for canning? I could go out and buy some more RomaÂs or something else that yaÂll suggest if need be.

IÂd like to put away about 40 to 60 quarts of tomatoes at the end of the season, so IÂll do whatever I have to and try to make it happen.

The other plants IÂll be growing will be some Better Boy, Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Lemon Boy and a few others.

The garden is 25ft / 22ft. I think I could put about another 20 plants in the garden if necessary. That would give me a total of 60 tomato plants. So, what do yaÂll think I should do??? Thanks.


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It seems to me 60 plants is a bit tight for that space. I would put a total of about 48 plants max. You will get decreased yields if you space them too close. Exact yields can be hard to predict. The uncontrollable variable of weather can effect yields tremendously. I have found this particularly true of heirloom varieties. That is why I do not give up on a first time planting of an heirloom if I get low yields, the next year it may be fine.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 3:02PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I would have to agree with John that 60 plants in that space would be really over-crowded unless you plan to do some massive pruning and single stem staking. I'd stick with 40-42 max.

Be that as it may, as John said, it is impossible to predict actual numbers of fruit from any number of plants - there are simply too many variables - weather, soil, watering schedule, fertilizer used, spacing, etc. One San Marzano plant may produce 75 tomatoes in one garden and 250 in another.

But when it comes to canning, I can help you there. First, don't restrict yourself to just paste tomatoes for canning. You'd do yourself a disservice and miss out on some great winter tomato feasts by doing that. Some of the non-paste ones you list are great for canning. Mix and can them all - regardless of variety.

Second, 40 plants, assuming a successful gardening season relatively free from disease, pests, and storms should easily give you 40-60 quarts. If you want to be sure, then skip the Juliet's as they will contribute little to the total and sub 3 other large high producing hybrid tomato plants like Big Beef or Brandy Boy.

Hope this helps. ;) Enjoy your tomatoes.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 5:43PM
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tomatogreenthumb(6 WV)

Juliet is a cherry type tomato. I regard it as a weed; I raised a couple vines one time.

Canning tomatoes are medium to large in size in my opinion. Paste tomatoes should be used for paste.

The cold hard truth sometimes disappoints, but should be helpful in the long run.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 6:43PM
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Most tomatoes will can well. I don't personally care for the larger beefsteak types such as better boy etc, but if you like them you'll probably like a sauce with them in it. I like to mix up the tomatoes I use in sauces, and generally make them with whatever is ripe at the time.

You will probably want to buy some more plants to get close to the amount of sauce that you want, the previous posts have given good guidelines regarding how many for your garden space. I would recommend that you look for a tomato that matures fairly early, and (i hate to say this) is a hybrid with good disease resistance because if your garden is going to be a bit tight on space heirlooms would be more likely to develop diseases. In my opinion.
Something else that you may not have considered is putting in a fall garden, it's a way of extending the harvest. They aren't always as productive as a summer garden, from what I understand, but every bit helps. Your county extension agent should be able to provide more information about that. Good luck, keep us updated please! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Find Your County Extension Agent

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 11:05PM
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Thanks for all of your advice and suggestions.
I did a little canning last season (first time) with the 6 different verities that I planted in a small space and I think I have an addiction. LOLÂ

I think I canned about 12 Â 15 quarts of tomatoes for the winter. And I'll tell ya what, they where much better then any store bought cans of tomatoes by far!
I make a lot of red sauces in large quantities on a regular basic for my family and friends. And I take a lot of pride in all my sauces since I was a chef some years ago. Not to mention that my Grandmother was Sicilian, and my inspiration for Italian cooking. She taught me to use the very freshest ingredients available to me at the time of It's prime. I could go on and on about this subject but I'll move on.

I buy San Marzano's (La Valle) (La Bella) and a couple of others to make my sauces. It's always a good sign to see the D.O.P. stamp on the cans. They must be a quality can tomato to go in my sauces. And if you know what I'm talking about, and I'm sure you do, theses can tomatoes can be a bit pricey.
This is one of the reasons that I would like to get as many quarts of home grown quality tomatoes as possible.

I also love to play in my garden, plant and eat (raw and cooked) lots of different Tomatoes. Thanks again


    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 5:09PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Then I would definitely skip the Juliet - there are much better cherry varieties if that is what you are after - and substitute 3 more San Marzano instead. :)

Also for future reference, consider Opalka as another paste - superb!


    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 6:13PM
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danincv(z9 CA Mtry Bay)

In among all of the reds, pinks and purples I only had 1 round yellow tomato last year- Lemon Boy. Ate a lot sliced and in salads and still put up 4 qts of yellow tomatoes canned in quarters. It was a nice productive plant but not exceptional. So 4 qts from one good plant is within the range of normal.

Used all of the canned yellow tomatoes for sauces for things like grilled tuna and swordfish- delicious.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 10:23AM
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Ok Dave.

The JulietÂs are out of here!!!
What cherry varieties would you suggest? Something that doesnÂt take up too much space. IÂll only need one or two plants for salads and so forth, and something to snack on while playing in the garden.

I think I called about 10 different garden centers looking for OpalkaÂs and most never even heard of them. ItÂs way to late to even think about starting from seed. But I still havenÂt given up hope. IÂm still looking! What do you think about getting them online?
If I canÂt find some OpalkaÂs this year, IÂll definitely put them on my list of (Need Seeds) for next year. Thanks again.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 4:18PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

What cherry varieties would you suggest?

Sun Gold and/or Black Cherry.

Yeah, it will be pretty hard to find Opalka plants for this year but the link below says they still have them. But next year you can grow them from seed.


Here is a link that might be useful: Opalka Plants

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 4:52PM
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lightt(6/7 Northern VA)

Interestingly, on another forum there was a recent discussion where someone asked about putting 16 plants in a 4X16 foot bed. The general consensus was that was too many but there were some who thought while tight it might be OK....

16 plants in a 4X16 (64 sq ft) allows 4 sq foot per plant
60 plants in a 25X22 (550 sq ft) is over 9 sq ft per plant which basically is the same as a spacing of 3X3.

I don't remember having seen/read anything that states the exact amount of real estate needed for a tomato plant. Usually one reads to allow somewhere between 2-3 maybe 4 feet between plants based on the variety.

I'm thinking you probably can squeeze 60 plants in that area. I only wish I had that much space and/or the mental fortitude to limit the number I try to grow every season in my limited space!!

Terry Light
Oak Hill, Virginia

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 5:02PM
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I found some. They will be here next week. If anyone is interested this is the place where I got them.
Thanks again.


Here is a link that might be useful: Opalka Plants

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 9:18AM
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