Tomatoes are undoubtedly the most popular summer vegetable for gardening pundits and novices alike. Once all the threats of winter are bygone and the days are teeming with warmth, it’s time to think about tomato planting. While they may be like most garden vegetables, it’s still very important to know how far apart to plant tomatoes.
In this guide, we will be addressing the reasons behind planting your tomatoes at an optimal distance, since this has proven to be an issue for various back-garden aficionados. Most people that decide to take up this hobby tend to neglect the factor of distance, which is why their red crop is often doomed to fail.
The Optimal Planting of Tomatoes
Knowing how far apart to plant tomatoes doesn’t only involve proper measurements; it’s also about the soil itself. Essentially, planting tomatoes right comes down to one key factor:
Spacing Tomato Plants
The spacing between tomato plants is an extremely important component for healthy productive plants. The right tomato plant spacing depends upon which variety of tomato is being grown: indeterminate or determinate.
Indeterminate Tomato Plants
You can grow indeterminate tomato plants either from seeds or by buying transplants from a nursery, which is a common practice in areas with a short growing season. The indeterminate tomato plant seedlings need to be 6 to 8 inches tall before you can actually plant them in your garden. After a thorough watering, they are best planted a minimum of 2 inches deeper than they used to be in the pot.
Planting seedlings in the late afternoon will prevent them from losing water from the drying soil. The planting distance between your tomato plants depends on how you decide to support them: by staking them, using wire cages, or allowing them to sprawl on the ground.
Spacing Caged Indeterminate Tomatoes
With your indeterminate tomato plants placed in cylindrical wire cages, you don’t need to worry about eventually tying the plant to a stake, as it will grow completely naturally.
A supporting wire cage should have openings of at least 6 inches in between the wires so that you can reach in and harvest the tomatoes. Indeterminate tomato plants require cages ranging from 18 to 36 inches in width and 6 feet in height. With this in mind, you should allow between 24 and 30 inches of space between the plants and from 30 to 42 inches between rows.
Spacing Staked Indeterminate Tomatoes
Stake-supported indeterminate tomato plants also need from 24 to 30 inches of space between the plants and from 30 to 42 inches between the rows. Sturdy wooden stakes, approximately 6 feet in length and 11/2 to 2 inches wide are to be driven 1 foot into the soil, from 4 to 6 inches away from the indeterminate tomato plant. As the plant grows, gardeners tend to use twine or strips of cloth to tie the tomato plant to the stake at every 10 inches.
Spacing Indeterminate Tomatoes that Sprawl
Indeterminate tomatoes may be allowed to sprawl out of the soil rather than being staked or caged. However, this is more often done with determinate tomato plants because the larger indeterminate ones often grow in a snarl, making the fruits difficult to harvest.
Tomatoes lying on the ground are an invitation to decay, but laying mulch or landscape fabric on the soil may help with protecting them. If you do let them sprawl, you should plant them from 3 to 4 feet apart with 4 to 5 feet row space.
Determinate Tomato Plants
Determinate tomato plants grow up to a certain height and then completely stop. They flower and then set fruit in a shorter period of time than their indeterminate counterparts. This type of tomato plants tends to be smaller and can consequently be planted closer together than indeterminate ones.
You should space determinate tomato plants 11/2 to 2 feet apart, spacing the rows from 2 to 3 feet apart and leave enough room for staking, caging and harvesting plants.
Why Spacing the Tomato Plants is Crucial
There are a number of factors that can negatively contribute to the development of your tomato plant, the majority of which can be avoided with proper placement. Studies show that up to a staggering 70% of tomato growing issues can be prevented only if you know how far apart to plant tomatoes.
Sunlight, water, and oxygen are the holy trinity of existence for any plant on Earth. Without them,it is most likely to die or to bear highly undeveloped fruit.
In order to avoid this, one must take all the precautionary steps during the planting process, as that is where the most important work takes place. It doesn’t matter what you water your plants with if you haven’t placed them properly. When you fail to do so, you risk the following:
This is one of the leading causes of death and under-delivery when it comes to any fruit-bearing plant - supply your tomatoes with enough nutrients and minerals! When you are watering your garden, the soil around the roots gets soaked with water, which the plant then absorbs in order to feed and strengthen.
You need to know how far apart to plant tomatoes and anything of the like, for various reasons, this being one of them. When there isn’t enough room between them, they will steal each other’s precious water and collectively deteriorate over time.
The roots of any plant spread as they grow, meaning they eventually encounter anything else lying buried around them. When the roots of one plant come into contact with another, they will grow in between each other, mutually thieving on strength and energy.
An occurrence like this most often leads to both plants being too weak to survive, eventually wilting them down to a herbal corpse. Make sure you know how far apart to plant tomatoes in order to avoid this catastrophe.
Plants Love Their Private Space
Aside from the holy trinity, the biggest source of growth for any plant is proper placement. By doing this right, you are nearly ensuring a long and healthy life for anything that lives in your garden. Tomatoes are no exception, and you can expect the plant to show you gratitude for your effort by beautifully developing over time and getting ready for pruning.
Consequently, knowing how far apart to plant tomatoes and adhering to that knowledge is 30% of the entire growing done in step one. Once you’ve executed this just right, you can continue watering with considerably more confidence that your effort wasn’t futile. Now that you’re fully aware of how far apart to plant tomatoes, go fill up that sprinkling can and splash away!