During plantation keeping out the required space is of utmost importance. Especially in the case of tomato plantation, proper spacing can provide you with a suitable yield. So, the question is, how far should one plant the tomato seeds in their garden?
Tomatoes, when planted correctly, maintaining the required space, will produce a healthy and larger harvest. Overcrowded plants do not have a good yield.
According to the general guidelines, you should plant tomatoes anywhere between 17 to 24 inches apart. But the correct spacing of planting your tomatoes depends on a variety of other factors. Follow this information to figure out how far apart you need to plant tomatoes, along with other basics of tomato plantation.
Importance of tomato spacing during the plantation
One should pay proper importance and attention to the spacing factor during tomato plantation. There are reasons to do so. Stated below some of them.
- Nutrient needs
It is not a secret that every plant, including the tomato plants, needs nutrition and water to grow. But when you tend to space the tomato plants close together, they will compete to receive enough nutrition from the soil. If your plant does not have enough nutrition, it will be weak and catch disease faster. The weaker plant won’t produce the required quality and quantity of fruits.
- Disease prevention
Tomato plants are frequently susceptible to many diseases when you plant them close to each other. The main reason behind this is insufficient air circulation. It actually elevates the risk of any disease in the tomato plants. It is a general fact that plant disease tends to flourish, particularly on moist leaves. If you plant the tomatoes close enough, the plant will not get proper air or sunlight. It would result in moistened leaves. Development of harmful plant disease would occur soon. Therefore, spacing becomes important during the plantation of tomato plants.
- Proper pollination
You must grow your plant through pollination to produce more significant amounts of fruits. However, if you don’t maintain adequate spacing while plantation, you are taking away the chance of pollination. Even though your plant has enough flowers, the pollinators might not be able to locate or find them. It might result in lower fruit growth.
This reason is one of the practical reasons to provide adequate space during the plantation of tomato plants. You must be able to reach your tomato plants to look for bugs, prune, stake, remove suckers, check their health, or harvest. If you are growing your tomato plants close to each other, you would not be able to manage your tomato plants’ everyday needs. Also, the risk of crushing the plants or fruits when you harvest runs at a higher probability.
Spacing out tomatoes too far can be the best environment for weeds to grow. Thus, you must leave out adequate space for proper growth of your tomato, but you are providing more chances for the weeds to grow if you leave out. It would affect the valuable growing space that your plant needs. Too many weeds in your garden might reduce the overall potentiality of the growth of your tomato plants.
- Sufficient light
Tomato plants are generally known as heat lovers. They need plenty of sunlight to provide healthy growth. If you plant the seedlings close enough to each other, one plant will cast its shade towards the neighbor plant while growing. These plants, which are shaded, outgrow a stringer and long plant instead of bushy and compact ones. Thus, the plant’s growth gets affected due to inadequate sunlight, providing you with pale green color leaves. Try to plant the tomatoes keeping adequate space for proper light.
- Less competition
As you know, by far that tomato plantation needs proper air and light circulation. When you tend to grow your plants close to each other, the airflow decreases. It also suggests that the plants are competing with each other for proper water and nutrients. Therefore, leaving out proper space between your plants would provide lesser competition among the plants.
Overcrowding would leave your plant weak and scraggly. The way out of this would be lesser flower growth on the plants. Lesser flowers directly indicate lesser fruit production.
Types of tomatoes
You will get two types or varieties of tomatoes in the market. Let’s take a look at the difference between these two varieties.
- Determinate Tomatoes
The first type is known as the determinate tomato. Bush tomato, as it is called in some part of the world. The bush tomato or determinate tomatoes are grown by compact plants that grow about 3 feet tall. Some larger varieties of determinate tomatoes can grow up to the desired length of 4 feet. Gardeners who would love to preserve their harvest can choose the determinate tomatoes as these tomatoes ripe around the same time.
The plant of the determinate tomatoes looks more compact. They can also be grown in any cage without extra support. It is possible due to the compactness and smaller height of the plant. If your garden has a smaller space, then this variety is the best choice for you. They do not need much room to grow as you can grow them in containers too. The growing season of these compact tomato plants happens to be around the early time of the year.
- Indeterminate Tomatoes
The determinate tomatoes grow up to a specific limit and then stop, but they can grow up to 5 to 8 feet tall in case of indeterminate tomatoes. Even after that, most plants continue to grow until the frost or harsh weather condition finally kills these tomato plants at the end of the season. This plant type is also known as vining tomatoes.
The vining tomatoes can produce their harvest over a prolonged period as they grow slowly. These tomato plants need proper supports like stakes, tall wire cages, or trellises.
Tomato spacing by Plant types
The distance from one plant to another depends on the type of tomato that you are growing. The types of support you use for your tomato plants also determine the amount of distance you need to keep producing healthy plants.
Let us take a look at the best spacing scenario for your tomato plants according to their type.
- Determinate tomato plants type
For determinate tomato plants, you need to measure out a minimum of two feet from its neighboring plant. As this plant grows 11 to 18 inches taller, you need to maintain 2 feet distance after estimating the size of a full-grown determinate tomato plant.
The determinate variety of tomatoes is hybrid as these tomatoes are bred into specific characteristics, including their smaller size.
- Indeterminate tomato plant type
By far, you know that indeterminate tomatoes require some support for their growth. They require an average of 18 to 25 inches of space from each other to produce the maximum yield. You need to prune the plant regularly during the growth period of the plant. It would be best if you did this plantation practice to control the plant growth and encourage a proper amount of air circulation.
It is advisable that you don’t sprawl your tomato plants on the ground. If, in any case, you want your plant without any stakes, then keep them at a proper space of at least 3 to 4 feet apart from each other.
But you should remember that if you are growing your indeterminate tomatoes on a vertical trellis, you should plant your tomatoes one and a half to two feet apart, whereas plants that are grown inside wire cages need more space than just two feet. Indeterminate tomatoes that are not trellised or caged require a space of a minimum of 3 to 4 feet. It would give them enough room to sprawl over the ground.
Tomato spacing by Garden types
The type of your garden also influences the growth of your tomato plant. More than that, according to the type of garden, you should estimate the proper spacing of your tomato plant.
- Traditional row garden
In the case of a traditional row garden, you need to plant the tomato plants in an upright row. Place your plant anywhere between 12 inches to 49 inches in each of the rows. At the same time, one should try to keep the row about four feet apart. It facilitates the tomato to grow properly as they will get plenty of proper air circulation and plenty of room.
- In Containers
In the case of container gardening, each tomato plant needs a single container to grow. Every plant happily grows in large pots. The benefit of container gardening is that the plant containers can be placed beside each other. The plant will not compete with other neighbors for nutrition or soil since they have their ground to grow. When you cannot reach every plant, you can move the pot to some other location. Container gardening can be an excellent option when you have a small garden space.
- In Grounds
Whenever you are growing tomatoes on the ground, plant tomato at a one-foot section. To calculate the total space, divide it equally by keeping a measurement of 1 foot away from each other. It would work best for your tomato plants as it allows proper nutrition and airflow for your plants without overcrowding them.
- In Raised Beds
Raised bed gardens are a space saver. Whenever you opt for raised bed gardens, you must keep a 4 foot by 4-foot frame and plant one tomato plant in that frame. Every frame requires large frames for cages to provide extra support to the small herb.
Effects of soil during tomato plantation
Soil plays a significant role when it comes to planting your tomato plants. If your soil is of high quality consisting of loamy soil with dense nutrition, then you can plant your tomato closer to each other as this soil consists of life-sustaining qualities. However, poor or hard clay soil requires proper distance to plant your tomatoes. Due to the poor condition of the soil, most tomato plants might thrive on living.
Other considerations require for the best yield.
When you have already placed tomato plants at the desired distance apart from neighboring plants, don’t forget to prune the plant. The determinant tomatoes do not require pruning. Once in case of indeterminate tomatoes, you need to do regular pinching to remove any suckers. It promotes productive and healthy plants. You do not need any skill to prune tomato plants; therefore, remember to prune your tomato plants every 7 to 10 days.
Proper moisturization is a must while you grow your tomato plants. 1 to 3 inches of water per week is a must for every tomato plant. If you provide water inconsistently, it will end up rotting blossoms. Even if you follow every step for proper tomato growth, improper water dispersion will put water to your arduous toiled task.
Tomato plants are considered heavy feeders. In other words, they require a lot of oil nutrition to grow. Apart from the natural nutrition, you can also provide low nitrogen fertilizers during the blooming period of your tomato plant. Application of a bit of composing area around the plants would invigorate the growth of the plant.
In short, every tomato plant requires individual attention to grow into a healthy plant. If you plant your tomato plants close to each other, they would be infested by bugs. But in the case of tomatoes planted at a proper distance, they will be stronger and healthier. It would also yield more significant fruit.
Also, one must remember that spacing your tomato plant depends upon factors like soil condition, methods of staking, type, and even the variety of tomatoes that you are planting.
Last but not least, remember the tips that have been introduced in this article and be a pro gardener.