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how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

Posted by gardningscomplicated (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 20, 10 at 3:30

I'm designing my new tomato garden, and I'm working on plant and row spacings. I'll probably do some interplanting to avoid monocropping. And I may leave some space between blocks of plants, with the hope it will help slow down the spread of disease from block to block (I have no idea if it'll work). I'm mostly planting large indeterminate heirlooms. Italian tree from tomatofest will probably be my largest. And I hear Matt's wild cherry could try to take over the whole garden. But I have a wide variety, including some determinates. So I'm going to have all different shapes and sizes. And I'm wondering how big these things will get, so I can calculate my bed sizes, path widths, and plant spacings.

So my questions are, how wide and tall do your plants get? What kind of spacing do you use? What kind of support? Do you prune them? And do you think yours are larger or smaller than average? Or somewhere in the middle? I'm in southeast Michigan, and I don't think mine will get huge because our growing season is kinda short, and it tends to be cloudy a lot. And I'll probably space them in a way that doesn't favor maximum individual plant size. And I don't plan to prune, except to keep stuff off the ground.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

Full Sun. Zone 7. Raised compost fortified beds. Good mulch. I never prune. I use Texas cages (Best) and CRW cages (good) and my indies will go 10 to 12 feet tall if you let them and 5 to 6 feet wide. I plant 4' apart in all directions and they still merge together. Here's a pic from 03 and it's still only about halfway through the season:

Garden Pics Through the Years 019


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

  • Posted by n1111z 5b high plains (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 20, 10 at 8:34

bigdaddyj. That bed looks to be twelve feet long. So we're looking at three plants??


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

They are not all the same size. When I read about tomatoes I don't see much about the size of the plants except for some that are suitable for containers. I know last year Black Cherry was trying to take over the world but others were not that big.


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

That bed is exactly 16' x 8'. You are looking at 10 plants. Two rows of 5. Back in 2003 I placed plants about 3 feet apart. Now I plant at least 4 feet apart. Only 8 plants go in that bed now. We learn as we grow...:)


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

gardningscomplicated - there is no simple answer to your question. The answer depends on far too many variables - type of plant, degree of pruning, type of supports used, your soil, the weather, your fertilizing, etc. just to name a few.

All I can tell you is you will need to group them by type (indet. vs determinate) and plan on a minimum of 3' spacing if using cages and/or not pruning (4' is better) or 2' if staking and moderately pruning or 18" if heavily pruning. Anything more specific is learned from experience in your own garden. Just don't OVER-complicate the process of planning because experience will teach you that the plan never works out anyway. ;)

Dave


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

Living in zone 7 is cheating.

BTW, only the giraffe and the top tomato are fake.


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

Yeah, I've been scaring that giraffe out of my tomatoes for years now...;-)


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

bigdaddy - Thank God I don't live in zone 7:) I'm not tall enough to reach the tomatoes. How are the ones in the back? Are they affected much by shade from the ones in the front?

helen - I'm definitely planting some black cherry. And now I'm wondering if all the cherries I got are going to be huge. I know Matt's wild cherry is supposed to be. So maybe I'd be better off planting half as many as I planned, so they don't take up all my space.

struwwelpeter - Maybe you need a taller fence to keep out the giraffes. What kind of tomato is that?

digdirt - I know there's no easy answer, and it depends on all kinds of variables, and no matter what I plan, it isn't gonna happen that way anyway:) So I figured if I could at least get an idea what the range of possibilities is, I could make an informed decision. And still get it wrong.

One thing I was wondering, could I reasonably hope to contain most of my plants (cherries excluded) to a 2 1/2 foot wide row? I'm planning to use a variation of dcarch's trellising system (google dcarch+tomato if you're interested), where plants are supported on 2 sides by a series of horizontal strings. Similar to a clothesline, but with multiple levels. My main concern is keeping most of the vines out of the paths between rows. Although I'd expect a few longer branches sticking out here and there. After seeing bigdaddy's plants, I'm just going to assume my plants could overlap with each other, no matter how much space I give them. I'm also wondering if double rows are a really bad idea.


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get??

digdirt - I meant to ask, what's the reason for keeping determinates grouped with determinates, and indeterminates with indeterminates? I was considering mixing things up a bit, but I won't, if there's a good reason not to. One way I thought it could help is by planting a determinate between 2 indeterminates. Then pulling the determinate when it was done, so the other 2 would have more space later in the season.


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

The indeterminates will take over and smother the determinates by late summer.

You can certainly confine your tomatoes to 2 1/2 feet, but it will take diligent pruning. Last year I grew 8 plants in a 4'x12' bed, and kept them pruned quite a bit to allow enough space. This was so I could have variety, as I wasn't worried too much about production. I grew three Opalkas in a different bed, and didn't prune them much at all, and they got at least 8' tall, and hugely bushy. I was tying them to the fence with twine, but I'm sure each plant would have been 4' wide if it wasn't confined by the twine.

This year I'm buying a 150' roll of CRW and building my own tomato cages, since the only ones sturdy enough to handle toms like those Opalkas run about $15 apiece.


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

Complicated gardener, LOL, That bed in the pic is raised and slopes slightly to the south. Pure sun all day. None of the plants suffer for sun. Now that I only consign 8 plants to that bed I squeeze in some basil along the front edges and it too grows huge for basil. I have 3 secrets. (Compost, Compost and Compost)


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

digdirt - I meant to ask, what's the reason for keeping determinates grouped with determinates, and indeterminates with indeterminates? I was considering mixing things up a bit, but I won't, if there's a good reason not to. One way I thought it could help is by planting a determinate between 2 indeterminates. Then pulling the determinate when it was done, so the other 2 would have more space later in the season.

Sounds good in theory doesn't it? But it doesn't work in real life unless you aggressively prune to only the main stem. As you can tell from the pics aggressive pruning isn't something many of us do.

As already mentioned the indeterminates will quickly smother the determinates, block the sun exposure to them, and suck up all the soil nutrients. Plus if you tried to pull them you'd be ripping up roots of the indeterminates too.

You don't include your zone or location in your posts (BIG help if you would) but in much of the country determinates will give you a second crop later in the season as the weather cools so they don't get ripped out all that early either.

These rows several years back were planted on 4' spacing so you can see the problems you'd have with only using 2 1/2'. I have since gone to 5'. See the wooden staked determinate on the right side? Imagine it in between 2 of the 8' tall indeterminates. ;)

Hay Mulch

I'm planning to use a variation of dcarch's trellising system (google dcarch+tomato if you're interested), where plants are supported on 2 sides by a series of horizontal strings. Similar to a clothesline, but with multiple levels.

Yeah that method is named "Florida weave" and you'll find a great deal of info and reviews on it here and on the web if you use that label.

But it is your garden so try it your way if you wish. Hands-on experience is the best teacher. ;)

Dave


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

struwwelpeter - Maybe you need a taller fence to keep out the giraffes. What kind of tomato is that?

Supersteak.

When I showed a print of that picture to my neighbor (who owns that garage) she thought that I had placed a big cardboard cutout of a giraffe next to the tomato.


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

my brandywines usually get about 8 ft or so tall and as i try to grow them up there usually about 4 ft wide or so /my beef steaks usually about 6 ft x 4 ft wide and the better boys and whoppers are around 5 to 6 they seem to not get as wide for me anyways usually 3 ft or so


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

lantanascape and digdirt - Ok, so my determinates aren't going between my indeterminates, unless I find some way to contain my indeterminates. And I'd have to cut down the determinates instead of yanking them. Thanks. Now I don't have to learn that one the hard way:) I'm in southeast Michigan (it's buried in my first post, but not in the header). My zone is 5b or 6, I've heard both. It may have been officially changed to 6. And thanks for the pictures, it makes it a lot easier to understand the problem. I also did a search on google videos for "tomato farm", and that brought up some good videos of tomato fields. But you usually have to guess at the dimensions, since they don't always tell you.

dcarch's method is different than florida weave, if I understand it correctly. The lines aren't meant to sandwich the vines to keep them from tipping. They're spaced wider, and I think the vines are supported more by hanging. He describes it as being like a suspension bridge. I think it would be less prone to tipping over than florida weave, with longer spacing between posts. Kind of like a hammock. But I'm still working on the mechanics of the whole thing, so I'm not sure yet if I got that right. Most of what I know is just theoretical at this point, since I don't have experience with either of these methods.

bigdaddy - Complicated? Me? :)

struwwelpeter - It looks 3 dimensional and real to me.

junktruck - Thanks. I'm guessing most of mine will be similar to your brandywines, if they could grow to their potential here. But mine might be smaller than average, because of my growing conditions. So I might be ok if I plan for 3 foot, with some way to contain them if I'm wrong.


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

You'll notice how most of us have our zone or location attached to our user name?

junktruck 5
digdirt 6 -7 AR
struwwelpeter 5

You can add that info to your name. When you post note the blue Zone (optional) box. Once you fill it in it stays with you. ;)

Dave


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

yeah im like u / some maps i look at have me in zone 5a while others have me in 5b / i figure 5 ish is close enough hehehe / but yeah 3 or 4 ft would work / besides my kid thinks he needs room to play in the back yard heheheheh


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RE: how tall and wide do your tomato plants get?

digdirt - I was filling that in sometimes. But it didn't stick around for new posts. But I just found the place for it my profile, so hopefully it stays there now.

junktruck - I read somewhere last year that the warmer zones were moving a little farther north each year. I don't remember by how much though, but it seemed significant.

everyone - Thanks for all your help. I've decided on 4 foot wide beds with 1 foot wide paths. It seems like the most efficient use of my space. And I can always play around with spacings within the beds if I need to. And if I want to plant really close together, it leaves me plenty of space for double rows. It seems like every time I deal with this question, I always end up with the same answer. But I learn something new each time.


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