Tomato Spacing, thinning

chrisstevensJune 24, 2008

First time gardener, I think I spaced my tomatoes incorrectly. I didn't thin them out properly, so I have groups of two plants spaced 1-4 inches apart, those sets are about a foot and a half apart. I'm thinking I should thin out one plant from each group? they seem to be doing ok (foot tall or so) but I'm wondering if they will be stunted. Will thinning at this point promote growth, or is it too late? What is the best way to thin a reasonably large plant out that is in such close proximity to another? should I just cut it to avoid damage to the other plant's roots? thanks!

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Chris, spacing has to do with how you're growing your tomatoes.

It sounds like you're letting them sprawl, which is what I do, and if that's the case, individual plants need to be about 3 ft apart and if in rows, the rows need to be about 4-5 ft apart.

If you're growing them in any other way such as staking or caging or trellising then please let us know so that folks can give you the best information.

But plants as close as you now have them is not a good idea at all in my opinion.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 8:55AM
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jbann23(6 RI)

If you thin them out, cut off at ground level, don't disturb the roots. If room is available then stick those cut off plants into the soil deeply and water well. They'll wilt and seem to be dying off. Then surprise, they'll start growing again. Every year I do this with oversized suckers and get great tomatoes later on in the season.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 9:14AM
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Thanks for the answer carolyn's question, i'm growing them in cages. Would I be alright thinning to 1 plant every 1.5 ft in that fashion?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 11:50AM
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Hi chrisstevens,

You did not mention the variety of Tomato. However as it appears you live in Maine you have a short growing season and your plants will not become Texas size monsters nor do you really want them to be.

Here is one suggestion on a method you could try on some plants to see if it works out for you.

Since you have more plants than space you would be better off pruning indeterminate plants back in tighter space which will cause the plants to fruit earlier at the cost of total yield per plant. However if you are spacing them more closely you will have more plants. Doing this in 18" of space is not a problem. Most plants you want to grow in Maine can be staked 15 to 24" apart. By August you really want to be producing fruit not foliage.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 12:49PM
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