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Square foot tomato gardening?

Posted by lucille Houston (My Page) on
Sun, Feb 2, 14 at 6:25

I have questions about intensive tomato growing. Maybe I am misunderstanding, but square foot gardeners seem to be saying that one can actually plant a tomato and have it grow in one square foot (cubic foot, because of the fabric placed under the bed prior to filling with mix).

I looked into square foot gardening because I think I want to try to grow some of the peppers plants in a more intensive growing situation.
I think there are a lot of good ideas in sfg, it just seems to me that a tomato is going to need a little more room than a cubic foot unless it is pruned enough so that production is drastically curtailed. If one both prunes and limits root growth one is essentially making a tomato bonsai.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

Probably you can plant one pepper in one square foot area but for tomatoes you will need bigger space, probably 1.5 by 1.5 ( minimum 2 square foot area.) It is not just the roots. The top also needs room for branches.

JMO


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

Seysonn,
The intensive beds I am setting up are for the peppers. Even so I plan on 12 plants for 18 square feet.
The tomato cages are in a different bed right behind where the peppers will be and have approx. 3x2 feet each because my plan is to try not to prune the tomatoes at all.
I'm planning to sneak some of the veggie plants into the flower garden too, but due to the tall gangly nature of tomato plants they pretty much have to have their own planned area, tucking a giant cherry tomato plant into a flower area would be like trying to tuck a 7 foot basketball player into a kindergarten class :)


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

Lucille,

Now you are talking about different subject.
True, some tomato plants can get quite tall and big, especially if not pruned. So, in this case interplanting pepper and tomato can be a problem, UNLESS peppers are planted on the sout/sothwes/west side of the tomatoes, not betwween them, not behind them I have several beds too. Last year I plant peppers and eggplants on the south. soutwest beds. This year I will plant all my peppers in pots so I can move them away from the shade of tomato plants.

Square Foot gardening is just a concept as to how utilize your land resources efficiently. It does not mean that you draw squares an plant thing in each square. For example i can plant 5 garlics in one square foot or one small pepper in it. If I had a lot of real estate I wouldn't do it that way.


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

Seysonn,

The tomatoes are in a different bed behind the peppers, I did not mention I was interplanting tomatoes at all, in fact I specifically alluded to the fact that the tomato plants would be so large, they could not get sneaked into the flower beds.

I do not think you are addressing the thought behind my original question: I do not see how an unpruned tomato plant can grow and be healthy in one cubic foot of space. If you look on some of the square foot gardening sites they indeed do say that for tomatoes, one plant to one square.


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

I do not see how an unpruned tomato plant can grow and be healthy in one cubic foot of space.
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I never said that;

I said:
"for tomatoes you will need bigger space, probably 1.5 by 1.5(that is in feet)"

That is almost a minimum . I have done it by pruning. If you don't want to prune just give them more space. like 4 sqr-ft., or more depending on the variety. When you talk about square foot gardening, you are talking about squeezing more plant into a given area.

Don't worry if I didn't address your question/concern clearly. Wait just a little longer. You will be bombarded with various suggestions. Then it is all up to you to sift through and decide what you want to do.


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

Maybe I am misunderstanding, but square foot gardeners seem to be saying that one can actually plant a tomato and have it grow in one square foot

First this is often discussed over on the Sq. Foot Gardening forum as that is the focus of your question.

Second, 2 sq. foot (not 1) is the standard recommendation for tomato plants when using the actual Sq Foot gardening guidelines. Some have tried 1 foot and pruned it to a single stem on a stake but reported it does not produce well

Third, for the 2 sq.' to work pruning to no more than 2 stems is required per the Sq. Foot guidelines.

I do not see how an unpruned tomato plant can grow and be healthy in one cubic foot of space.

It can't, just as seysonn said, and no reputable Sq. Foot source recommends doing it..

You don't indicate where you have been reading this claim of 1 foot un-pruned but just as with any other topic there are good sources and bad. Or you have mis-understood it.

The peppers are a totally different issue and not relevant to this forum but many Sq. Foot Gardeners do grow pepper plants in 1 sq. foot, myself included, with no problems assuming all other plant needs are well met.

Dave


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

I am also doing SFG for the first time. After reading Mel Bartholomew's book, it just made sense. He recommends 2 sq. ft. per tomato plant and peppers are 1 sq. ft. After doing quite a bit of research on the method and the types of tomatoes I want to grow, I've made an additional bed to put my tomatoes in so that I have the room. I've put the link to his website in for you, quite a bit of helpful information.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mel Bartholomew SFG


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

Thank you VivVarble for the link. Would like to hear more about your sfg tomato bed. I have enough lumber on hand to build 2 beds and I think I'm going to have more tomato seedlings than the existing bed has room for.


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

I know how that is! Originally I started with a 4' X 20' bed, intending to only have 3 tomato plants. Pfft! That went right out the window. A friend recently gave me some unwanted rocks so I made 3 small beds from them against my fence line, I haven't the slightest idea how big they are. The biggest is probably 2' X 5'-6', then 2' X 4' and the last is probably 2' X 2'. I'm going to give Cherokee Purple a try in one of them and they're supposed to be a huge plant so I'll probably put him in the smallest bed. I have Rutgers which I'll do 2-3 of in the largest bed with my pole beans, and Red Currant (cherry) and Roma in the middle sized bed. After looking up trellising methods I think I'm going to go with the Florida weave for ease and it seems to be the least expensive since I have the stuff to do it already.

I think it's harder to do tomatoes on SFG when you don't have a lot of planting space because you have to keep room between them for disease control and accessibility but after looking at all the other plants it just seems like you should be able to squish more in. Since this is my first year after a 20 something hiatus and only here and there container gardening, I'm trying to stay small and smart. Here's a pic of what I have so far. I've got a few sprouts because I planted some things too early and now I'll have to really be careful with the weather. Good luck, I'd love to see what you have going!

~Viv


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

We just got the big one filled yesterday. This pic gives you a better idea of the amount of space.

~Viv


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

VERY nice!! Those rocks look pretty big, it must have been a job getting that bed set up but it looks good as do the wood frame gardens.

My existing bed has 3x2 for each tomato. I can fit in two more 4x4 beds and was hoping to get 3 tomatoes in each.
I'll try to get a picture once everything is set up and the fencing put up (the minuscule yard serves both as a garden and running space for the dogs who race across the deck, down the side of the house and around the track: the long narrow existing tomato bed; I am trying to keep the 'track' for them.)

This post was edited by lucille on Sun, Feb 2, 14 at 20:46


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

After seeing and thinking about your long wood frame bed, I think I an going to try to do the same instead of building two more small beds, enclosing my current narrow bed to make space for two rows of tomatoes.


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

Yes, you must accommodate the pups, we have one as well who likes to hang out with me in the garden. Luckily, our backyard is a decent size and we don't do anything else out there, yet. I'd love to have it all done up but that's a long way off. I just finished transplanting my seedlings into bigger homes this afternoon, hopefully I don't lose too many since I have no room for back up plants. My counter is over run lol, one day I'll have a little greenhouse (crossing my fingers).

I like the look of the smaller plots in a design but for space purposes I don't think its all that great. Eventually, I'd like to have another 20' run coming off of the tall end bed to make one big L shape. I think it'll be a while before my husband lets me do that lol. The rocks weren't too bad, my girls help me a lot since I'm restricted in what I can do (I have an autoimmune disease that affects my joints), and they actually seem interested in learning some. I can't wait to see pictures of yours!

~Viv
*Here's my "puppy"


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

Beautiful dog!!!

My back yard is minuscule but I moved several years ago from a larger house and property that was getting too much for me to take care of as I get older. This place is just right, I have flowers and roses too, but all done on a scale where I can take care of them.

There is no grass at all in the back yard (unless you count the one small clump of bamboo). I'm trying to get more mulch for the pathways and dog area so those will be relatively easy care.

The veggie gardens are going to be planted intensively since there isn't much room, and of course the tomatoes require the most thought because they need a bit more room and support.


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

Thanks, I think he's a handsome fella!
After growing up with the standard row garden and the amount of space it required, I was really fascinated by SFG and other intensive methods. I just couldn't believe it could be done, but the more I read and researched I began to think why not try it? I decided to go with SFG because of all the intensive methods, it seemed the most simplistic, and I don't need anything hard lol. So here I am giving it a go and so far I'm enjoying it and showing my girls how to do it, plus it gives us time together which is really nice.

I'd love to be able to have a nice landscaped english type backyard, all dreamy and whimsical but it's not in the foreseeable future so I'll keep dreaming.


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

Square foot

Here is a link that might be useful: Square foot gardening


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

Lucille, I have successfully grown lightly pruned tomatoes in 1 square of my SFG, but:

1) they were smaller sized plants suitable for container growing,
2) they produced fruit but the plant neither grew as large nor as lush as those planted in my regular garden where they had more room,
3) I don't have fabric on the bottom of my SFG so the roots can grow into the native soil below, and
4) I only grew a couple per bed and interplanted smaller things around them.

In my regular (native clay soil & compost) garden, I plant my tomatoes on 2' centers -- four plants to a 4x4' bed, usually with basil around the edges.

Kathy


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

I do a variation on the square foot gardening. I've planted them anywhere from a foot to a foot and a half apart and, assuming you have good soil in your raised beds, I haven't seen much difference.

Here's the thing, though. In either case you need to be pretty religious about pruning. I never let any of the stems (other than the main stem, of course) get more than 12" and keep the suckers clipped.

The other thing I do is plant them in the trench method to get maximum root growth.

The biggest issue you have with planting them close together isn't that there isn't enough space for root growth but rather the amount of light each will get. If you keep them pruned and only planted in a single row it's not a huge issue.

This year, I will be elevating my tomato row by adding another tier to the bed for a 12" depth all along the back row. Not only will this allow me to plant them a bit deeper but I am hoping to do a row of shorter, bush types in front of them. Hopefully, they won't get very tall and obscure the ones in back.

In either case, Ill be doing early/mid season determinates in the front row so I can yank those out for the second half of the season and plant something shorter in there if need be.


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

I grow my tomato plants to 1 sq. I grow only indeterminate (vining) type tomato plants and allow them to grow along the trellis. I keep my plants to just 1 leader sometimes 2.


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

Stevin you garden is beautiful and I see all those tomatoes on your plants.


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

Lucille,
thank you. some of those plants reached 10 feet tall !!!!!
the trellis you see in the pic is just over 7 feet.

tjinpgh,
I love the idea of adding an additional row. for the past 3 years I've reserved the back row just for vertical gardening (tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, beans & peas). i'll be constructing an additional box 12" wide x 48" long x 12" deep and placing it behind the trellis just for my verticals.
so now with my 3 existing raised beds I've opened up 12 squares!!!!!!! sweet!!!!!! and doing so I can now plant some bush type tomatoes as you mentioned.


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RE: Square foot tomato gardening?

I actually just saw a video of someone who did this. I couldn't figure it out until I saw what he did. For what is worth, his plants look pretty healthy and productive to me. Here's a link. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jc6_ATF4lp4

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomatoes in square foot garden


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