So, how far apart should I space my tomato plants?
This depends on whether you are staking, caging, or letting them sprawl and on the particular variety’s growth habit of dwarf, determinate, or indeterminate.
Staked indeterminates can be grown with spacing of 1 foot between plants, caged indeterminates can be grown with spacing of 2 feet between plants, and for sprawling, you need at least 3 feet between plants. They will be more productive if more space is given.I have grown indeterminates 3 feet between plants and 4 feet between rows (remember is you are planting in raised beds you can get by with 2 feet but that's as close as I would go).. This gives them enough room to sprawl out and really produce.
Determinates can be planted a bit closer than indeterminates especially if they are let sprawl. They will produce well with 2 feet between plants and 3 feet between rows. Again, I have gotten by with a little closer but remember, the more light and air the more productive they will be.
The dwarf varieties are suitable for pot culture but if grown in soil, they can be planted as close as 1 foot apart.
A major contributor to the spacing question is the area of soil the roots expand into. A large tomato plant may have roots 3 feet or more deep and up to 10 feet long from the plant stem occupying up to 300 cubic feet of soil. Most people plant tomatoes too close together which reduces overall production. If given a choice between having more plants with less fruit or less plants with more fruit production, I would never plant indeterminates closer than 3 by 5 feet! But sometimes we don't always have that space.
The soil should be a good quality loam with loose texture. Since most of us don't have soil with those characteristics, it is best to work on building up the soil we have. A soil test will tell the pH level and give recommendations to raise or lower it if needed. Tomatoes grow best in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 which is just a bit on the acid side.
Start by getting a vigorous seedling to set out, hopefully that you have started. Mix topsoil, 5 gallons of high quality compost, 1 cup of 13-13-13 fertilizer, ½ cup of cane sugar, ¼ cup of table salt, Ground tho powder eggshells and 1 level shovelful of hardwood wood ashes in a wheelbarrow. As you plant Put 3 inches of of mixture in bottom of hole, put an inch or so of plain topsoil on top and set a seedling into the plain soil so that its roots can grow into the amended soil beneath. For the 1st week or so water everyday with a couple cups of warm water to stimulate plant growth, remember tomatoes are warm weather plants.
More Good Reads:
Heirloom vrs. Hybrid Part 1
Heirloom vrs. Hybrid Part 2
Saving Tomato Seeds
Genesis 2:8 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.
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