spacing and tying tomatoes in raised beds

coengMay 1, 2012

In my new veggie garden I have four 2x4 raised beds for tomatoes.

How many tomato plants can I plant in each bed?

What is a simple way to support them in raised beds?

When should I add the supports? At time of planting or later?

Here's what my garden looked like a few weeks ago. I've since leveled off the beds and added soil so they are ready to go.

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

2 plants in each box, supports added at the time of planting. Type of support depends on what kind of plants you are growing - determinate or indeterminate - and how much pruning, if any, you plan to do.

It will be impossible to get a CRW cage in those narrow boxes so I'd go with Florida weave. Put a 6' tall stake in the ground at each end of each box and then weave the supporting strings back and forth from post to post supporting the plants. That would work for indeterminate varieties and also help keep the boxes from tipping over in the wind.

For determinates a stake for each plant would be enough but I'd drive the stakes into the ground outside the box to help keep the boxes from laying over.


PS: I am assuming the boxes don't have bottoms in them, right?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 12:19PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

coeng, is there enough room to walk between the boxes? It looks like you'll have to prune the vines to just a few stems if you want to be able to pick fruit, remove hornworms, check the soil for dryness, weed, add mulch, etc.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 1:30PM
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I would assume using determinate tomatoes would be best because I'm in a confined space. Right?

What do you mean by the boxes tipping? Those boxes are going no where, they are filled with soil. The pic I posted about was from a few weeks ago. I removed the landscape fabric and put cardboard under the soil instead.

For determinates, could you describe the staking method in a little more detail like you did with the Florida Weave? I just watched a YouTube video of the Florida Weave and it seems simple enough.

I sure hope I left enough room! See photos below of different angles.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 1:54PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Make no mistake that those boxes, even filled with soil, can't tip once they are filled with bushy 6'-8' tall indeterminate tomato plants and a thunderstorm or high wind comes along. It has happened to all of us at one time or another. Those plants will create a solid wall of wind resistance that can lay the whole thing over ripping the roots out in the process if the boxes are just sitting on the surface and aren't staked down as well.

Indeterminates will work fine in that space if you do some pruning to control their bushiness or use big heavy duty cages to keep them somewhat contained. Otherwise they will quickly overflow the sides and block the walkways between each box. 2' wide boxes are pretty narrow. To avoid that problem, grow determinate varieties.

If you decide to stake the plants rather than use FW or big cages then you can either drive the 6 foot stake down into the ground inside the box and tie the plant up to it or drive it in outside the box against the outside wall and plant the plants closer to that back wall. That way the stake supports the plant tied to it and helps stabilize the box bed itself.



    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 2:56PM
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Your setup is similar to mine. Raised beds in a compact area.
Why not give my PVC cage a shot? You could pound the
uprights in the box for stability. My cages don't fall
down because they're driven into the ground about a foot.

I limit my plants to 4 main leaders and tie one to each
upright of my cage.

Here's a couple of shots of my garden.

And down below is a link to a page telling you how to and stuff
like that about the cages.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tom's PVC Tomato cage page

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 4:46PM
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Right now I'm debating between the Florida Weave idea and DIY round cages from fencing material with larger openings than my gaden fence. Obviously the latter will cost more.

The boxes are going nowhere...I used nail stakes to level the beds. You can't see them in the photos unless you look very carefully at the last pic which is more recent.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 5:05PM
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