Return to the Square Foot Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Tomatoes in SFG

Posted by jkbeene 8 (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 25, 05 at 9:10

How many tomatoes can I plant in bed 4'x8'? Just put in 4 raised beds and not sure how much I can plant in them. Can you grow cantalope? If so how do I grow them up?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Tomatoes in SFG

Spacing depends on your climate, what varieties you want to grow, and whether they're determinate or not. In humid climates you need more space for air circulation. I'm planing my indeterminate tomatoes 18" apart in a long line, with a little extra space for types like Green Zebra, which are known for being rampant growers. (I'm in an arid climate)

You can trellis cantaloupe, but if the fruits are big, you may want to put slings under them as they develop so they don't fall.

RE: Tomatoes in SFG

I plant my Toms 2' apart in rows 2' apart, staked, indeterminate plants.

RE: Tomatoes in SFG

John, do you stake and cage them, or can you get away with just staking them. Long ago and far away I used to help out with a regular garden and IIRC we only caged the tomatoes, all varieties. This is my first year doing tomatoes on my own so any advice is really appreciated!


RE: Tomatoes in SFG

Some places, like hot/sunny Texas, caging works best. Still, I just hung 22 feet of dog-fence whar (er, wire) from 3 tall T-posts. Set my 'maters every foot, and wove 'em up the wire. (Just curl the young part around the wire.) For determinates, I ran about 3 stems up, instead of 1. Planted 6 *weeks* late, they still performed well enough for my needs, and to give some away.

I planted a 2-foot basil at either end of the row (also 1 per square foot, right by the T-Post for support.) Basil planted by tomatoes grows, um, vigorously. I hacked those puppies back from 4 feet to 2 feet about 4 times. (I gave out basil bouquets with the 'maters.) I had to use a saw to cut one of the trunks down at season's end.

BTW, I missed covering for the first frost--although I did pick all but the hard green marbles. Alll the leaves fell off the 'maters, so I waited for the stems to dry. To my surprise, the bare green stems and roots grew out those marbles, and a few new fruits actually set between freezes and grew out. I had fresh 'maters for Thanksgiving (small, but fresh). Pepper leaves died back 1 layer at a time, so I had fresh peppers on leafed-out plants through New Years. Close planting really helped preserve the peppers through 3 or 4 hard freezes (with warming weather between). I had to corral those heavily fruited peppers--I will now grow peppers through Mel's Cubes, pushed down to about 6-8 inches above mix level.

My elderly neighbor converted to squarefooting for his first fall garden that year....

RE: Tomatoes in SFG

I usually plant 3 in the same size bed as you have. You could do four and still have space for a few basils around the outside. They eventually take up most of one end of the bed. I use tomato cages and then when they outgrow them I add those 6' plastic covered metal stakes about 3 per cage, lash them to the cages and tie the tomato vines to the poles as they get taller. I grow indeterminate heirlooms and they grow and grow and grow. I have to go check them to see what new growth needs tying up about once a week. I don't believe in pinching/pruning except for the yellow brown stuff they inevitably get towards the bottom of the plant in the late season. I use grass clippings as a mulch to prevent soil splashback which causes disease. Good luck with yours!

RE: Tomatoes in SFG

I have 5 planted in a space similar to yours. If you stagger the plants you'll be able to place them a little closer together.

RE: Tomatoes in SFG

I plant 4 in a square (4 sq ft per plant) but since roots grow in a circle,not square, I plant other stuff in those corners. This year i put a jalapeno paper in the center, to see if they kind of like the shade they'll get. My peppers tend to poop out on me in late summer when it gets real hot.

RE: Tomatoes in SFG

  • Posted by rhyno z7 Balt. MD (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 21, 05 at 13:56

So, in a 4x6 raised bed, that I will dedicate almost solely to tomatoes, how many do you all suppose I can fit, without cutting down too much on the yield? I like the SF book, but I'm trying to grow a lot of tomatoes in limited space.

Thanks in advance,


RE: Tomatoes in SFG

4 x 6 is 24 square feet.

If you want to go nuts, go nuts. Make the soil mix deep and beautiful, and plant one tomato per square foot.

Run nylon rope overhead on stakes, and drop mason's twine down to the plants so they have some support. Tie the plant to the twine with black electrician's tape. It expands as the plants grow and doesn't rot or hurt the plants.

The moisture demands will be high when fruiting begins, but don't overwater ever and especially not at the beginning. Water deeply once or twice a week so the plants develop strong root systems.

The plants growing straight up the twine will shade out the soil and even each other somewhat, but you'll get LOTS of tomatoes. More than you ever could normally as each plant will bear less than it might with 2 square feet of soil, but you'll have 24 plants to make up the numbers.

Okay, to return to rationality here...

Never make a bed so wide you can't reach across it. In my hoophouse, the bed is 4.5 feet across and I can only access from one side. That's too wide to reach through planted at 1 sq. foot each.

So I plant stuff at the back that doesn't need daily picking or until end of season.

This year I want to plant potatoes in the back. Maybe other root crops.

You can plant tomatoes staggered with basil squares, or lettuce.

These plants won't get as high as the tomato clusters so you'll be able to see the fruit easily and reach it without pushing past one vine to get to the next one farther back.

Look up shade tolerant plants that don't get more than 24 inches tall, and draw up a grid on paper.

Water with soaker hoses so you don't splash mud on the tomato leaves, the mud might have disease organisms in it.

Learn to make compost tea, and mist it on the tomato leaves in foliar feeding.

Last year I had great results until I got busy and quit with the tea applications. Then the soil diseases kicked in.

RE: Tomatoes in SFG

how do you make compost tea? I am worried I put 8 tomato plants in 4x8 area. Do you think I need to move some of them? I also want alot of tomatoes (just love 'em)!!

RE: Tomatoes in SFG

Howdy, jkbeene.

I did a search for compost tea, and this looks promising:

And on the new technique of aerated compost teas:

RE: Tomatoes in SFG

  • Posted by rong_TX z7b, D/FW Texas (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 26, 05 at 12:21

The best way to make compost tea at home is by following this:

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Square Foot Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here