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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #1
Ozark
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Default Tomato Plant Spacing in Raised Beds

I have grown in-ground vegetable gardens for many years, but I'm moving my garden and building all raised beds this year. I have a long fence and an old deck to tear down, and I'll be re-using the 5/4" x 5 1/2"deck boards from those - it's pressure treated lumber, but it's almost 30 years old and weathered gray so I think it's OK to use.

My raised beds will be 3 feet wide, 15 inches deep, and of various lengths (8 feet, 12 feet, 14 feet). They'll be filled with a mixture of hauled-in topsoil and good rich compost. I grow all indeterminate tomato varieties and will be trellising the plants on wire cattle panels.

In the ground, I plant single rows of tomatoes three feet apart and trellis them. I'm hoping I can put tomatoes closer together than that, in raised beds with rich soil and good support. I want to put as many plants as I can in each raised bed without overcrowding and for maximum production and good fruit size.

So, tell me about indeterminate tomato plant spacing in raised beds, please. How close can I plant 'em? Thanks!
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #2
Goodloe
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Ozark...depending on how aggressive your pruning regimen is, I think you could probably go with a 2' spacing.

I grow my big indeterminates in a 9'X18' bed on 9 concrete wire cages, that are 5'X24"...3 plants per cage, planted around the outside of the cage. I aggressively prune any outward growth, and encourage growth upward and inward. This method allows me to put 27 plants in a relatively small space, and has worked very well for the last 4 years. Something you might consider....
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #3
zendog
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Are you planning just one row of tomatoes across the back and then other, smaller veggies in front, or do you want to just do tomatoes?

My beds are 3 feet by 9 and I grow 9 tomatoes in a single row, so just 12 inch spacing between plants with the first plant 6 inches in from the edge and row planted 6 inches off the back edge of the bed. To make this work I keep them as single stem. The beds run east to west and this leaves me a couple feet in front of the tomatoes to put peppers, greens, etc. This allows me to get a lot of varieties in and gives me a lot of plants so that if I loose one or 2 to disease, I'm not taking as big a loss as I would with fewer plants. Also, I really like the airflow between the tomatoes and the fact that as I take leaves off the bottom I'm getting further from the soil and possible splashing, disease, etc. If I loose a plant, I just let a sucker from the neighboring plant grow and train it over to the string from the dead plant making a double stem plant.

If I was doing 2 rows in each bed, I'd probably put the second row close to the front of the beds , so I could grow 18 tomatoes in a 3X9 bed. The aggressive pruning probably doesn't give me the highest possible production, but I much prefer to have more plants and more varieties.

Last edited by zendog; 3 Weeks Ago at 03:44 PM.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #4
PaulF
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When I had raised beds, they were 4'X16" and still with the heirloom/OP tomatoes I liked the plants to be planted on 4' centers so they had room to spread out. I was able to get an additional plant in the space by staggering the plants from edge to edge in an extended W. And I have never once pruned the top of a tomato plant.

I loved the raised bed garden, but after moving from Iowa in-town to Nebraska rural, I went from little space to more than I can ever use and plant a traditional in-ground garden.

Some plant close some like spaces. If the plants are too close I think you lose the air flow and invite disease and other problems with vines intertwining. Personal choice, I guess.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #5
shatbox
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Sound like you have a good plan Oz. I started planting closer and the pruning was the key. I give them enough space to barely touch leaves till they get too high to reach.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #6
oakley
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I think it is an individual trial and error based on airflow, climate/seasonal rainfall...
Only can guess but raised beds do best for me...good drainage if a soggy Spring...I have lots of
spring water if it gets dry.

I have always planted tight but that can bite ya...if soggy, hot, and overcast for days.

I plan to go back to wider spacing this year after 2 soggy hot years.
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had an air conditioner.

Your plan seems great. All my raised beds are 3 ft and salad beds are 2.5.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #7
amideutch
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Ozark. Below is a link of the raised bed I made at work which was no-till with horse droppings and compost added at the end of each growing season.

http://www.tomatoville.com/showthrea...Surrogate+work

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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #8
chiefbeaz
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I have a son who lives in Clarksville ,TN. He has raised bed that are 4'x10' and are 3" deep. He puts 5 plants in the beds. One close to each corner and then puts one in the middle. He has 1x1 wood strips nailed to the sides for support and and wooded strips over the top where once they grow 8 to 10 foot tall they lay on the top . He has huge tomatoes and great production. The plants get real bushy , but he does keep the bottom cleared out good as they grow. I think doing that for him promotes enough air flow and he doesn't have any problems with disease. At first he tried putting 6 plants in the bed, but it was too crowded and hard to manage.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #9
Ozark
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Thanks, everyone, for taking time to reply and for all the information. All your responses have been very helpful, and I think I know what I'm going to do now.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #10
taboule
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Ozark, You may want to check this here, post 41 and subsequent ones

http://www.tomatoville.com/showthrea...ht=garden+2018

Bed is 20x6 (the ones further back are 16x6) and you can see how many plants I put in, all indeterminate. I didn't trim enough and they grew to a jungle (you can see in later posts) but production was amazing.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #11
beninla
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I plant tomatoes in 3 foot wide raised beds in 2 staggered rows per bed, with 18 inches between plants. I prune the indeterminate tomato suckers and leave 2 or 3 stems per plant, and remove the bottom leaves below the first cluster of tomatoes.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #12
Gardeneer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozark View Post
I have grown in-ground vegetable gardens for many years, but I'm moving my garden and building all raised beds this year. I have a long fence and an old deck to tear down, and I'll be re-using the 5/4" x 5 1/2"deck boards from those - it's pressure treated lumber, but it's almost 30 years old and weathered gray so I think it's OK to use.

My raised beds will be 3 feet wide, 15 inches deep, and of various lengths (8 feet, 12 feet, 14 feet). They'll be filled with a mixture of hauled-in topsoil and good rich compost. I grow all indeterminate tomato varieties and will be trellising the plants on wire cattle panels.

In the ground, I plant single rows of tomatoes three feet apart and trellis them. I'm hoping I can put tomatoes closer together than that, in raised beds with rich soil and good support. I want to put as many plants as I can in each raised bed without overcrowding and for maximum production and good fruit size.

So, tell me about indeterminate tomato plant spacing in raised beds, please. How close can I plant 'em? Thanks!
In the past i have made a dozen of raised beds with exact the same lumber, 3 ft by 6 ft
. I used to plant 6 per bed, due to greed and lack of space.
But i think 5 is better in a staggered form.that should give you minimum of 2ft between any neighboring plant
4 plant per bed will be generous spacing.
At any event, plants need to be supported (stake or cage) and some pruning, especially couple of feet above the ground should help air flow, under and thru the plantz.

It is all a matter of space availab ility. Now that i have plenty of garden space, i give 3 ft between the plant and 5 ft between the rows.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #13
zipcode
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If you want to optimize per ground space, one stem pruning is the way to go (be prepared for height though, 3 meter poles are a good start, and you can lower the vines if needed). Half a meter between them would be a good value.
Unpruned, only you know how big your plants get, but after you calculate how much you would need, add some more space, people always tend to crowd.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #14
b54red
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If you haven't already made your bed then I would suggest you make them a bit wider so that two rows can be planted in each bed. I used to have 4 ft wide beds and now I am rebuilding all of my old beds that are 40 years old and falling apart. I am rebuilding them slightly narrower due to age making reaching the center a bit harder because some of my old beds had warped so badly that in places some of them were a full 5 ft across. The inside dimensions of the newly made beds are 45 inches. I use the lean and lower single stem method and can easily go with two feet between tomato plants in the row and the same on the other side of the bed. I have planted as close as a foot with still good production but it was more troublesome and a bit too crowded for my taste.

When I grew on panels like you are talking of doing then I would allow 4 feet per plant but have two rows per bed with two trellises running down the beds. I used this method for years before discovering that lean and lower would work very well outside. I don't make as many tomatoes per plant but I have nearly twice as many plants in the same space and far fewer disease problems as long as I keep up my pruning. Actually the pruning is far easier with single stem than multiple stems especially as the plants get larger. The single stem works great for our climate with the long long season but if I were growing in a drier climate with a shorter season I would trellis or use large cages.

Bill
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #15
Gardeneer
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Bill,
Ozark is using standard cedar fencing lumber that comes in 6ft length. By cutting it in half you get 3ft length for the ends. You end up having 6ft by 3ft bed, at thle most economical way, roughly under $15 per bed. With no scraps. I could make 3 of them in one day.
Yeah , you can make them 4ft wide but you will waste 33% of the lumber. in Dollars terms,it will cost an extra 4 bucks per bed, that is to make 6x4 beds. But it will be also 33% bigger in area.
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