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mass quantity of tomato plants

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mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  rmarie on 10/18/2012, 12:49 am

Hi, newbie here, and I've searched the forum multiple times but haven't found a satisfactory answer (which is probably in here somewhere and I missed it.) So I am sorry if this is an old question. I am wondering how to grow large quantities of tomato plants using the sf gardening method. It is really hard for me to accept planting one tomato per square foot if you want to plant more than a few. Tomatoes are the main reason I garden! My in-laws and grandparents plant more than 30 each year. Who here has planted large quantities of tomatoes in raised beds, and what was the spacing you used? Planting 4 in the back row of a couple of 4x4 raised beds won't cut it for me. I want like a 4x16 bed dedicated to only tomatoes. Anybody ever try this?

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Re: Mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  GloriaG on 10/18/2012, 1:41 am

Hi rmarie,

Welcome to the forum. There's lots of great information on this forum about planting tomatoes. One place you might check is the "Tomato Tuesday" thread.

A couple of older posts that addresses your concern about planting larger quantities of tomatoes are: http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t10423-jaybirds-sfg-farm-staatus-update and http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t5315-we-have-tomato-blooms

Tomato are planted one per square foot, but SFG beds don't have to be 4' x 4'. Many people have larger beds. A nice size for tomatoes is long and narrow like 2' x 16" which gives you access to the tomatoes from both sides but gives you space for some companion plants in front. I'm sure others will be along soon to give you additional input.

Good luck,
Gloria


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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  camprn on 10/18/2012, 6:49 am

I plant the indeterminates 1 per square foot. I had 24 plants in a 4x6 bed. It works but requires regular maintenance and management with trellising and pruning and such.

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  RoOsTeR on 10/18/2012, 9:25 am

@rmarie wrote:Hi, newbie here, and I've searched the forum multiple times but haven't found a satisfactory answer (which is probably in here somewhere and I missed it.) So I am sorry if this is an old question. I am wondering how to grow large quantities of tomato plants using the sf gardening method. It is really hard for me to accept planting one tomato per square foot if you want to plant more than a few. Tomatoes are the main reason I garden! My in-laws and grandparents plant more than 30 each year. Who here has planted large quantities of tomatoes in raised beds, and what was the spacing you used? Planting 4 in the back row of a couple of 4x4 raised beds won't cut it for me. I want like a 4x16 bed dedicated to only tomatoes. Anybody ever try this?

Actually, planting one per square foot is pretty intensive gardening. I think you'd be pretty hard pressed to plant more than that in any gardening method and still be successful. Not only do tomatoes need good air circulation, but YOU will also need room to trim, prune, harvest, etc.

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  rmarie on 10/18/2012, 10:24 am

Thanks for the replies, you are very helpful and replied so quickly! I can tell I'm going to love this forum. I am planning next years garden and wanted to hear from those of you like Gloria who have planted large quantities of tomatoes. I do NOT have the time to constantly trim and prune, as I have 6 kids, the youngest are are infant twins, and I garden at my dad's house, not my own. So, I think I will space them farther apart next year for less maintenance, and maybe try a more intensive approach with 1 foot spacing in the future when I have more time to keep up with them.

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  CharlesB on 10/18/2012, 10:42 am

Assuming a normal Indeterminate variety of tomatoes 1 per sf is not enough space. Unless you are going to do A LOT of maintenance on them. Which I don't know anyone who wants to do that. If I had the yard space and wanted to grow a lot of tomatoes I would take five gallon buckets, cut the bottoms out of them and fill them with Mel's Mix. Giving them ample space and a good trellis for support. I'd say three feet between buckets minimum, more if you need to walk between them. Not three feet between centers but three feet rim to rim.

There are a few gardners who post to Youtube who do mass tomato production. "navajopa31" is a good one. He isn't doing them in raised beds though. Which if I wanted to do a lot I wouldn't either.

Tomatoes are solar sugar machines. More sun you can get on them the better so planting them right next to each other immediately starts reducing solar input.

Please post pics of your trials once you get your plan in practice in the spring. We can all learn from it that way.

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  Triciasgarden on 10/18/2012, 11:49 am

Rmarie welcome I have six kids also but my youngest is 18 and I didn't have twins. I worked outside the home and had to squeeze in my gardening when I could. It was "fun" to try to garden but I needed the outlet as you probably do. I like the idea of a 2' x very very wide so you have good access to every plant. I am certainly not even close to being an expert but I remember when I first started gardening when we moved in 22 years ago and had indeterminate tomatoes (I didn't know determinate from indeterminate then). I chose a main leader and trained it up and kept the suckers pinched off. They got good sunlight and air circulation and it didn't take much time to take care of them. (My memory may be distorted in my old age) I didn't have 30 tomato plants though and had a variety of vegetables, so that is a difference. I was doing the row gardening method then so they were spaced out.

I like Charles idea of lots of buckets, with MM in them, and will probably do that this coming Spring so I can free up space for other things. Quite a number of people on this site have grown in buckets for lots of different reasons.

That sounds wonderful, actually, to have 30 tomato plants! You will have to post pictures and let us know (in your spare time of course, lol) how your garden is coming along. I think you will like this forum, people are so knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. It isn't like some sites where you choose the best answer, here you can get ideas from multiple people. Good luck with your planning and growing!

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  rmarie on 10/18/2012, 2:47 pm

Well I'm not going to try 30 this year... But I'd like to build up to it someday. We eat a LOT of canned tomatoes, salsa and pasta sauce...
Thanks everyone for the advice.

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  camprn on 10/18/2012, 4:46 pm

@rmarie wrote:Well I'm not going to try 30 this year... But I'd like to build up to it someday. We eat a LOT of canned tomatoes, salsa and pasta sauce...
Thanks everyone for the advice.
We eat a lot of canned tomatoes here as well. I usually end up buying about 30 pounds of them from some local farmers when the tomato glut is on and I can usually get a pretty good price per pound. Then I can those as well as my own.

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  happycamper on 10/18/2012, 6:48 pm

If this helps, I ended up with 26 producing tomato plants and a few volunteers that didn't produce much. In the best interest of crop rotation, I used two of the 2'x8' boxes for determinate tomatoes and that worked very well for 10 of the plants and they were only pruned at the bottoms to prevent water from splashing on the lower leaves. Some of the others were planted at the East end of beds and some were lined up on the North side (which is what you said you didn't want to do). I did plant some in the 4'x12' bed but they were in the middle so that the "lettuce/greens" had shade during deep summer. I have planted 8-10 of them in a dedicated bed that was a 4'x8' before and it worked also. I don't really prune the plants that often which is why I give them space so that they have air flow to prevent disease.

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  CapeCoddess on 10/19/2012, 12:47 pm

@happycamper wrote:I did plant some in the 4'x12' bed but they were in the middle so that the "lettuce/greens" had shade during deep summer.

What a great idea! Thanks!
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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  quiltbea on 10/19/2012, 2:24 pm

The older I get the less maintenace time I can allot to my garden. I've planted them in 1' squares but kept the trimming done each week. It worked well but I was out there every day checking and trimming.

For 2013 I plan to put only 3 indeterminates spaced out with the 2 outer ones close to the outside edges of my 4' wide beds. I want good air circulation even when I don't have the energy to cut and trim very often. I want to see if I get better production this way so will, of course, let you all know next year. With my nine 4x4's I have room assigned for 18 tomato plants (6 beds). The others will have sugar peas along their north sides.

I planted in my comm garden also this year but no stringing nor trellises, just stakes. I planted them in the rows 2 1/2 feet apart because I couldn't get there every single day to check on them. They did amazingly well with production and health.

If you have little time, space them wider. Let Mother Nature do her thing with sunlight and air circulation when you can't manage it.


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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  Kelejan on 10/19/2012, 3:47 pm

@quiltbea wrote:

. . .If you have little time, space them wider. Let Mother Nature do her thing with sunlight and air circulation when you can't manage it.

That makes sense, Q.
Thanks for the tip.

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  walshevak on 10/19/2012, 5:21 pm

Do a search on bucket brigade and see what my son did with 32 buckets of tomatos. He had tomatos all summer long for the first time. I've still got 6 buckets of indeterminates climbing cattle panels amd 2 buckets of determinates. Picked about 20 lbs. yesterday.
4 buckets here

two buckets here and growing all over the top of the bed next to the panel.


I went away for over 2 months this summer and the tomatos didn't get pruned properly. The 2 bucket setup completely took over an entire bed and crowded out everything except some sweet potatos.
Kay

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  thegreatcob on 10/21/2012, 10:32 am

this mass quantity phase reminds me of mels comment in his first book about the guy who planted the community garden plot with 95% tomatoes and jungle that ensued.
not to mention all strange devices used to secure the plants.
for those who only have the new book the chapter on how mel invent the method in first book is really good read. And mistakes he observed in other garden methods are still alive and causing jungles and messes.

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  camprn on 10/21/2012, 11:02 am

@thegreatcob wrote:this mass quantity phase reminds me of mels comment in his first book about the guy who planted the community garden plot with 95% tomatoes and jungle that ensued.
not to mention all strange devices used to secure the plants.
for those who only have the new book the chapter on how mel invent the method in first book is really good read. And mistakes he observed in other garden methods are still alive and causing jungles and messes.
But the jungle may work for them.... I'm just sayin'. Very Happy

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  thegreatcob on 10/22/2012, 11:18 am

Like said you did not read the that part in first book since the harvest from jungle and finding it was very funny part of book if it was not so sad.

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  Triciasgarden on 10/22/2012, 6:29 pm

@thegreatcob wrote:Like said you did not read the that part in first book since the harvest from jungle and finding it was very funny part of book if it was not so sad.

That's for sure! Look at Kay's photos. Can you imagine 90% of a garden producing that wonderfully! She has hers supported great but can you imagine if it wasn't! rofl

Kay your garden looks heavenly! rahrah

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  Triciasgarden on 10/22/2012, 7:03 pm

[quote="walshevak"]Do a search on bucket brigade and see what my son did with 32 buckets of tomatos. He had tomatos all summer long for the first time. I've still got 6 buckets of indeterminates climbing cattle panels amd 2 buckets of determinates. Picked about 20 lbs. yesterday.

That was fun looking at the photos again! I am definitely going to plant in some buckets next year! Thanks for reminding me!

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Re: mass quantity of tomato plants

Post  plantoid on 10/22/2012, 7:17 pm

I've run my toms in MM this year in the glasshouse ... as said spacing is paramount . I grew the indeterminate ones and ran them up a slack thin rope that was gently tied to an over head catenery wire . My spacings between tubs was about two feet to each rim & some days I would have loved to have had the extra space when tending to them .

Elsewhwere when I've grown them outside I've used what used to be known as culture rings . where each plant is set over a hole filled with compost and a ring of flexible plastic such as floor covering is made to 12 inches across and set slightly into the compost so that it will hold water or liquid feed , the tom plant is planted in the ring .
Spacings are best if done one every three to four feet between plants to try and keep air circulation and prevent tomato blight .
I only had four plants on each row of overhead wire & accompanying ropes for they get rather heavy when laden with ten to fifteen pounds of tomatoes and a gentle wind starts blowing on them.

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