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Layout of first time garden

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Re: Layout of first time garden

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 10/3/2017, 9:03 am

I plant 5-6 tomatoes along the back 8 of a 4x8 bed. For trellises the other direction (4x2 block like yours) I plant 3. I don't plant a second row/column of tomatoes adjacent. A row full seems to work ok, but adjacent rows get jungle-y. If the tomato plants can't dry out after it rains, it prolongs the conditions that diseases take advantage of.  I'm pretty sure the 1sf spacing assumes that you will be removing most of the secondaries. I usually have the main stem and two secondaries. Sticking to only the main would help with your planned spacing, though I'll warn you that keeping 30 tomatoes tucked onto a trellis and desuckered is a lot of work! The biggest issue I see with your plan is that each tomato needs it's own foot of trellis - 8 sharing 4ft of trellis really seems to be too much to me.

Ah, that's much more readable. My squinting got most of them, but I'd also decided I might be seeing Curly Pink, Black Beautiful, and Butter Bay. Sanderson is saying that Amish Paste and San Marzano are determinate -- the internet says indeterminate (yielding all season), but I'll believe that they are determinate in the sense of being bushy and needing more space like the cherry tomatoes. I'm likely growing both of those for the first time next year so I don't have personal experience with them. There was a lot of variation in the bushiness of the tomatoes I grew this year. Candy Icicle would have fit in 1/sf, maybe even 3 plants/2sf, Black Dragon and Sweetie could have each used 2x1to1.5. My Brandywine had a leaf that by itself was over a foot long. I agree with Sanderson on skipping Yellow Pear. I'd pick Sweet100 over Sungold, but I'm in the minority - Sungold almost always wins the local tasting event I attend.

Regarding how not keeping secondaries affects yield, here's what Mel says about the practice in the OSFG book "when you pinch off the side branches, you lose the potential fruit of those branches, but you'll have bigger, juicier, and earlier tomatoes on that central stem - up to to weeks earlier!"

In the end though, it's just advice - everyone has different experiences. We're all different people with different gardens, so some things work for some but not others. The best way to learn what works for you&your garden is to experiment. Maybe you could eliminate just 4 of the duplicates, and have a 4x2 block in your bed with 4 tomatoes, and the others with 8, and compare to learn which spacing works better for you.
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Re: Layout of first time garden

Post  brianj555 on 10/3/2017, 11:56 am

BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:I plant 5-6 tomatoes along the back 8 of a 4x8 bed. For trellises the other direction (4x2 block like yours) I plant 3. I don't plant a second row/column of tomatoes adjacent. A row full seems to work ok, but adjacent rows get jungle-y. If the tomato plants can't dry out after it rains, it prolongs the conditions that diseases take advantage of.  I'm pretty sure the 1sf spacing assumes that you will be removing most of the secondaries. I usually have the main stem and two secondaries. Sticking to only the main would help with your planned spacing, though I'll warn you that keeping 30 tomatoes tucked onto a trellis and desuckered is a lot of work! The biggest issue I see with your plan is that each tomato needs it's own foot of trellis - 8 sharing 4ft of trellis really seems to be too much to me.

Ah, that's much more readable. My squinting got most of them, but I'd also decided I might be seeing Curly Pink, Black Beautiful, and Butter Bay. Sanderson is saying that Amish Paste and San Marzano are determinate -- the internet says indeterminate (yielding all season), but I'll believe that they are determinate in the sense of being bushy and needing more space like the cherry tomatoes. I'm likely growing both of those for the first time next year so I don't have personal experience with them. There was a lot of variation in the bushiness of the tomatoes I grew this year. Candy Icicle would have fit in 1/sf, maybe even 3 plants/2sf, Black Dragon and Sweetie could have each used 2x1to1.5. My Brandywine had a leaf that by itself was over a foot long. I agree with Sanderson on skipping Yellow Pear. I'd pick Sweet100 over Sungold, but I'm in the minority - Sungold almost always wins the local tasting event I attend.

Regarding how not keeping secondaries affects yield, here's what Mel says about the practice in the OSFG book "when you pinch off the side branches, you lose the potential fruit of those branches, but you'll have bigger, juicier, and earlier tomatoes on that central stem - up to to weeks earlier!"

In the end though, it's just advice - everyone has different experiences. We're all different people with different gardens, so some things work for some but not others. The best way to learn what works for you&your garden is to experiment. Maybe you could eliminate just 4 of the duplicates, and have a 4x2 block in your bed with 4 tomatoes, and the others with 8, and compare to learn which spacing works better for you.

Thanks beetles. Yeah according to Dave's Garden Amish Paste, San Marzano, Sweet 100, Sun Gold, Black Cherry and Yellow Pear are all indeterminate varieties, although I kind of figured that Sanderson meant they grow more like determinates. See I post questions on here specifically for that reason. Experience trumps data every time in my opinion. That's what's so great about this forum.
See all of the varieties above show a need for up to 36" of spacing, with the exception of "Yellow Pear" which shows a potential need for up to 72". WOW that's wide. See I decided to try a yellow pear because everything I read about them says they grow wonderfully in my climate. But, I'm not willing to give up 4 squares for one, especially knowing that even 4 won't be enough.
It's funny that you mention that pruning 30 tomato plants being a lot of work. Out of nowhere, that exact thought hit me this morning. See Monday through Friday, I have limited time both in the a.m. and the p.m. to tend to the beds.
I'm heading back to the drawing board at some point today and will post an update. I will be making gradual changes at first. I have decided to go to "at least" 1.5 squares for each plant. That should get me going in the right direction.
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Re: Layout of first time garden

Post  sanderson on 10/3/2017, 2:52 pm

I sure made a mistake on labeling the tomatoes as determinate verses indeterminate!!! Embarassed I doubled the embarrassment by not realizing that Brian was planning his spring garden. Embarassed Embarassed

Some tomato plants seem easier to train upwards with the main stem and one or 2 suckers. Others seem to take over the garden. I planted 7 tall (indeterminate) plants in the 2'x7' and it seemed a perfect compromise. I planted alternating tall and fat (determinate) every 27" in the dirt strip and the fat ones buried the tall ones!

Brian, are you going to plant a winter garden? Kale, Swiss chard, collard, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and root crops like beets and carrots? You will need tulle or other netting to protect them from the white butterfly/moth and their green caterpillars.

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Re: Layout of first time garden

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 10/3/2017, 4:06 pm

72" for the yellow pear?! No wonder I have such a mess. It ended up in the corner of the porch (not the ANSFG) and I couldn't reach it to keep up with it and it's fallen half over and ...made a nest in the landscape grass. I've been reaching into the bowl of the nest to take out the eggs... err...tomatoes.

Sanderson, don't worry about it! There are too many varieties to remember them all - I've mis-remembered which beans are pole and bush on some thread. You got the paste part right, and most of the paste tomatoes ARE determinate. I was shocked to find these paste tomatoes weren't when I got the seeds as part of a swap and researched them earlier this year.
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Re: Layout of first time garden

Post  brianj555 on 10/3/2017, 6:40 pm

sure made a mistake on labeling the tomatoes as determinate verses indeterminate!!!  Embarassed  I doubled the embarrassment by not realizing that Brian was planning his spring garden. Embarassed Embarassed

Some tomato plants seem easier to train upwards with the main stem and one or 2 suckers.  Others seem to take over the garden.  I planted 7 tall (indeterminate) plants in the 2'x7' and it seemed a perfect compromise.  I planted alternating tall and fat (determinate) every 27" in the dirt strip and the fat ones buried the tall ones!

Brian, are you going to plant a winter garden?  Kale, Swiss chard, collard, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and root crops like beets and carrots?  You will need tulle or other netting to protect them from the white butterfly/moth and their green caterpillars.
Yeah.  I would like to plant a few things, but I know even less about a winter garden than I do a spring garden  Wink
My box is full for now, (although I do think the jalapeños, Banana and bells are done or never started in the first place). I'm not sure though.  I could free up about 12 squares if I yanked them, but it's still pretty hot here.  ( 80,s during the day about half the time, but the humidity is dropping. All of those squares are between the tomatoes though so I'm not sure how those crops would do???  Is it too early to give up on the Pepper plants yet? Also, knowing that the tomato plants will be staying until the first frost and shading that area, would it be worth trying ?  I'm not even sure what all will grow in my climate here during the winter???  I guess it is something I should be looking in to, so my bed doesn't go stagnant for 3 months.  What do you think?

See the gap in the middle is where the pepper plants are ( except the middle on both the outsides, I have green beans that are doing ok) but if I planted anything for winter, between now and the first frost, they would have to go there.  I am standing on the south side.
I e already got some extremely leggy romaine lettuce ( you can see on the right). I planted it waaaaay too early.  I'm not sure if I should pull that and plant more or what. Same thing with green onions , just to the left of the lettuce.
I planted both of them in early August along with the carrots  Embarassed!



 Any advice?
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Re: Layout of first time garden

Post  Scorpio Rising on 10/3/2017, 7:13 pm

Brian, I have no advice on what would grow in your area in the winter, but if I were you I would try some stuff!  Seeds are relatively inexpensive.  I would let the romaine go and see what it does as the temps cool off.  

As for the tomatoes, for example, I put 18 tomato plants in my new 3x7 all individually staked this spring.  And a patty pan squash got the remaining 3 corner squares.  Big mistake.  WAYYYY too much plant material.  Couldn't keep up with pruning,e=weeding, harvesting.  End result: bad year except for early on.  I gave up.  Nature won.  I am going 1 tomato per 2 SF next year because I wanna tend to them better.  

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Re: Layout of first time garden

Post  brianj555 on 10/3/2017, 8:09 pm

Scorpio Rising wrote:Brian, I have no advice on what would grow in your area in the winter, but if I were you I would try some stuff!  Seeds are relatively inexpensive.  I would let the romaine go and see what it does as the temps cool off.  

As for the tomatoes, for example, I put 18 tomato plants in my new 3x7 all individually staked this spring.  And a patty pan squash got the remaining 3 corner squares.  Big mistake.  WAYYYY too much plant material.  Couldn't keep up with pruning,e=weeding, harvesting.  End result: bad year except for early on.  I gave up.  Nature won.  I am going 1 tomato per 2 SF next year because I wanna tend to them better.  

Take notes!  Detailed notes.
Yes.  I have been trying to come up with a different set up. After hearing from you guys, and doing more research I have come to the conclusion that 1 per square is out of the question. I went back to the drawing board and made some baby steps.  I moved the peas and green beans over to the south bed after removing 1/2 row of corn, to free up six more squares .  Then I cut the 30 planned plants down to 24.  

This is what I can up with so far. The shortest and skinniest 4 plants of the group being on the bottom row.  I realize it would probably be best if I could spread it out even further, but this is what I could live with for now. Going from 30 plants in 30 squares to 24 plants in 36 squares was about all the consolidating I could handle for now,
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Re: Layout of first time garden

Post  sanderson on 10/4/2017, 3:10 am

You are slowly weaning off the number of tomatoes! Very Happy Winter gardening is much more relaxing, as long as one tightly covers the beds with bridal tulle or fine netting. Broccoli, cabbage, purple cauliflower, Bright Lights Swiss chard, varieties of kale, beets, carrots, parsnips, lettuces, radishes, garlic (though they won't be ready to harvest until at least June).

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Re: Layout of first time garden

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 10/4/2017, 8:41 am

Also, collards, mustard greens, bok choy, endive, escarole, and arugula. Smile
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Re: Layout of first time garden

Post  brianj555 on 10/4/2017, 6:11 pm

What about turnips?  I'm not sure if I enjoy eating them more only because it's what my grandma cooked or what , but they seem to taste better to me.
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Re: Layout of first time garden

Post  sanderson on 10/4/2017, 10:31 pm

Yes, turnips.  Very Happy

Brian, I was working in the beds this afternoon and as I was pulling up 3 tomato plants, I thought of something.  The plants I was pulling were planted one per 2 squares and the roots were massive.  Since tomatoes are thirsty plants, it was hard to keep the MM wet during the summer despite using thick straw mulch and watering daily.  Also, some of us trench our young starts.  That is, dig a sloping trench, plant the root ball at one end of the trench, ending in the next square with the top sticking out of the ground.  The exposed top of the tomato quickly uprights itself.  I and others pre-turn them as shown in this little video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDA4FuOosXw

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Re: Layout of first time garden

Post  hammock gal on 10/5/2017, 9:11 am

sanderson wrote:Yes, turnips.  Very Happy

Brian, I was working in the beds this afternoon and as I was pulling up 3 tomato plants, I thought of something.  The plants I was pulling were planted one per 2 squares and the roots were massive.  Since tomatoes are thirsty plants, it was hard to keep the MM wet during the summer despite using thick straw mulch and watering daily.  Also, some of us trench our young starts.  That is, dig a sloping trench, plant the root ball at one end of the trench, ending in the next square with the top sticking out of the ground.  The exposed top of the tomato quickly uprights itself.  I and others pre-turn them as shown in this little video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDA4FuOosXw

sanderson, what a great trick, thanks for posting that! I've always trenched my tomatoes, and it really is tricky to do without damaging them. Next year, I'll be using this method. Very Happy
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Re: Layout of first time garden

Post  Turan on 10/6/2017, 7:01 pm

The issue I am seeing is if every tomato is different variety for a testing, can you keep them separate once they are big and going nuts? Florida weave would do it, and with that and lots of pruning it might work to put 4 across in short rows, and then an open foot (plant carrots and basil and turnips there) and then repeat. Or, do a bucket brigade and give each tomato all the room it wants.

Florida Weave http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t19561-florida-weave-for-supporting-tomatoes-plants
Some good examples of buckets and Florida weave from the South~ http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t15750-2013-tomato-tuesday-lower-south

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