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How Many Tomato Plants and What Goes With Them?

How Many Tomato Plants and What Goes With Them?


  #1  
Old 03-22-22, 04:56 PM
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How Many Tomato Plants and What Goes With Them?

Hi All,

I have a garden bed that is approximately 3.75' x 9.5' (slightly bigger, actually, but this is close enough for my purposes). I'm in northern NJ, so Zone 6b.

I would like to plant cherry tomatoes (red or yellow) and something else that would work with cherry tomatoes, garden-wise (not recipe-wise). Does anyone have any recommendations as to how many tomato plants I can fit, and also what other plants I can put in there (as well as how many)? I read somewhere that yellow squash and basil would go well - but no idea if that is true.

Thanks for any advice!
 
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Old 03-22-22, 05:30 PM
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Depends on if you have cages for them and if you want to have room to walk around them or not once they are ripe. In my garden that would be room for about 3 or 4 tomato plants, and not much else. You pretty much only need 1 cherry and one grape tomato plant since they are pretty prolific. I like eating tomatoes... Rutgers and Romas are my favorites.

Butternut and other Vining squash will overgrow that entire area in no time, and it doesn't like to be confined. Peppers don't take much room, I surround each plant with a 5 gallon bucket with the bottom cut out... they like the heat. Green pepper, jalapeņo, Anaheim, Serrano, Yellow banana, etc.

Onions don't take up much room and are good as a border but they take a lot of weeding. Zucchini squash will cover a 3x3 area pretty easily, so if you plant those I'd suggest putting them in a corner. If you can put up a fence with some netting, a row of cucumbers could vine upward and not take up a lot of room. Wax beans can be planted about 3" apart, thinned to 6" in rows about 12" apart... and the 2 rows help support each other. Some twine between/above them will help keep them vertical.

There's a lot of things you could plant... just not a lot of room to do much. You have to imagine how big things will be getting and leave room or it all grows together and then it makes it hard to pick.

Things like basil and oregano and other herbs are best grown in a flower pot, IMO. That way you're sure your not picking and eating weeds if you have trouble recognizing what plant is what.
 
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Old 03-22-22, 05:51 PM
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Thanks for the info!

I do have cages for the tomato plants. At least, I think they are cages; I have several of these: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Gardener...594A/202295648

I also have some bamboo sticks. I don't need any room to walk around/between them because I put up netting around the entire perimeter, otherwise the squirrels and chipmunks get very fat. As good as keeping the rodents out, it also keeps me out although I can easily reach in to pick whatever is growing.

I have grown tomatoes in the past, but I think I plant too many of them, too close together. They would grow like crazy, and go into each other, but I wouldn't really get very many tomatoes until late in the season. I also have had some luck with peppers and zucchini, and also some herbs (basil, mint, and a few other things I don't really remember).

So, if I put two cherry tomato plants in (none of my family like grape tomatoes), and I wanted to do something else, could I also fit one or two yellow squash and one or two pepper plants? Or is that pushing it? Also, what order woudl you do it in? (And I'm assuming I can thrown in a basil plant or two wherever there is room? Those have seemed to grow very well in the past.)

Thanks again!
 
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Old 03-22-22, 06:11 PM
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Yeah they will outgrow those cages in no time. But better than nothing. I have round cages, about 30" wide & about 5 feet tall. They stay inside these well.

If you aren't going inside this area to pick, yeah that changes things. You could put 3 or 4 tomatoes right down the center, and then a lot of 5 gallon buckets around the outside for peppers. Zucchini grow on the ground so can you reach in that far to get them?

Not sure what you mean by what order?
 
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Old 03-22-22, 07:12 PM
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Thanks again for the additional advice.

Yes, I can reach in for the squash, so that's not a problem. The netting I use is a soft mesh, and I only put it about 24" high, which has been sufficient so far.

I'm having trouble finding 5' tall / 30" wide cages, but do you think this would work (5' tall but seem much narrower): https://www.homedepot.com/p/Gardener...60GR/307668884

By the "order", I meant in what order I should put the plants. I didn't know if it made sense to put a tomato plant, then a pepper plant, then a tomato plant, then a pepper plant going down the center the long way, or to have all tomatoes together, all peppers together, etc.. But it seems like I could do a few tomatoes in the center, length-wise and then peppers around.

Could I do something like in the below drawing, or do I have too many total plants and/or too much variety and/or too close together? Numbers are approximate measurements in feet and:
ZS = zucchini squash
PR = pepper
CT = cherry tomato
BL = basil (or some other herb)

Thanks again!

potential spring 2022 plantings


Thanks!
 
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Old 03-22-22, 07:27 PM
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Good diagram, looks good. Yeah the taller cage would be better but you might find it needs more horizontal pieces. You kind of need to train tomatoes to stay in the cage, checking them daily since they grow so fast, tucking new branches that want to grow out and directing them up and in. Don't be afraid to lop off branches that get out of control, keep it vining straight up. Wrapping a few bungee cords around those cages in your link might help add more support, because the openings are so large.

You might also find that you need to tie the tops of those cages back to your fence posts, as the wind will want to blow them around. Nothing worse than seeing your tomatoes all flat after a storm.

If you like potatoes and chives those are things you could plant right now, sooner the better. Maybe put couple on the short ends of your fence. Plant them now and they will come up in May as it warms up.

I think the order you drew it in is good. Think about splitting the space so that each plant gets light... the tomatoes will get tall and cast shade. Another reason to keep them far apart and not let them grow together. I'd spread the tomatoes out a bit farther.
 
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Old 03-23-22, 05:08 AM
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Most cherry tomato varieties are indeterminate which means they can get very large if not pruned. How many you fit into your garden will depend heavily on how you prune and train them. I let mine go mostly unpruned and get massive yields but the plants are enormous needing a large volume of soil and space above ground. Tomato cages are of limited use as they often end up leaning/falling over but a few sturdy stakes and some fencing works great.

Pay attention to the specific varieties you choose. In your plan many of them can get quite large so make sure you choose varieties that stay smaller or plan on raising fewer plants. You can also make heavy use of trellis/fencing to get much of the plants off the ground, freeing up some space. Zucchini squash is a good one to get off the ground if you are good about tying and supporting the fruit.
 
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Old 03-23-22, 07:36 AM
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Thanks to both of you for advice. Thoughts on the below revised plan?


 
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Old 03-23-22, 08:38 AM
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All of this depends on your garden's orientation to the sun. Tomatoes, cucumbers and any kind of summer squash (zucchini squash) can cast quite a shadow so don't plan on putting herbs on the shaded side. Herbs do best will full sun. The shady sides can be used for plants that like it a bit cooler or plant things that will be finished before the tomatoes, cucumbers & squash get big. For me that's cool season plants like cilantro, broccoli culliflower... that you can get started early.

Unfortunately, by your plan your bed is both too wide and too narrow. I'd run two rows of fence or horizontal wires along the length of the bed. One for the cucumbers and another for the tomatoes. This almost requires some kind of aisle or access between the two. Then plant your herbs on the sunny side strip at the edge of the bed.

Another option instead of laying the bed out in the long axis is to do it cross wise. Install a 3.75 long fence at each end of the garden a foot or two in from the end for your tomatoes and cucumbers. You can also run a third fence in the middle. Then plant herbs and other things in the sunny areas.

Many vine type plants have prickly leaves and stems. Not thorns or anything that gets your attention right away unless you have sensitive skin. Working with bare arms around squash & cucumbers can leave you with red, itchy marks so it's nice to be able to access them without having to squeeze between two close rows. You want room to work and keep from bumping into or rubbing the plants. If you have tougher skin or wear long sleeves it's not an issue.
 
 

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