Are my tomatoes and cukes too close together?



Are my tomatoes and cukes too close together?

Sat Jun 19, 2010 5:45 pm

Hi all, I'm new to the forum and I need a little help. I made an old bookshelf into a planters box and I didn't really foresee how much space my little guys would need. I have six tomato plants and six cucumbers plants in two 1'x2.5'x9'' (approx) spaces. Too close? Should I transplant some of them? check out the pics.

Thanks, Tom

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rhoderider
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Sat Jun 19, 2010 5:55 pm

Oh yes.... WAY too close together. One of your shelf spaces is MAYBE enough soil for ONE tomato plant. One shelf could be two or three cucumber plants because they are going to send vines spreading out all over.

You will need a lot more support for your tomatoes than the one little stick, except that you could in your circumstances just grow them as sprawling vines, trailing down over the edges of your box.

Put some horizontal strings across the deck railing corner and your peas can grow up that.

Your bookshelf obviously has a back on it. You did remember to drill some drainage holes in it?

Dig out all but one of the tomatoes and plant them in 5 gallon buckets with drainage holes drilled, ONE per bucket.

One full sized tomato plant will get 6 or more feet tall and 3 or more feet wide, depending on how it is supported and managed.


PS Welcome to the Forum! Hope you find it friendly and helpful! :)
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rainbowgardener
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Sat Jun 19, 2010 6:57 pm

That bookshelf idea is nice! I think that's a great idea for someone who wants a raised up bed, and nice neat sections :)
tylianna
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Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:28 pm

Now I thought I read somewhere this spring that growers have switched to growing two tomato plants per pot for more yield and less space consumption. I am trying it on two of my pots this year just to experiment. I remember the article saying something about the pollination and competition forces more fruit production. If this is totally wrong I will split them up before they get too big. I am still pinching flowers for root formation at this point. What do you think?
timberjet
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Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:25 pm

Spacing tomatoes is quite controversial. We have people here who put a dozen plants in a 4x8' bed and we have people who space their plants a yard in every direction, and they all swear they are right! And they all may be, for their climate and way they grow things.


I live in a VERY humid climate, not only tons of summer rain, but very humid when not raining. I have to be careful about diseases and air circulation. I plant mine close (5 in a 4x8 bed), but do a fair amount of pruning and suckering to maintain air circulation.

If you don't prune/remove suckers at all, then you probably need more space between your plants. If you live in a less humid climate you can get away with more crowding. If your plants are crowded, you are going to have to work a lot harder at watering/fertilizing to be sure they aren't competing too much. I don't fertilize my tomatoes (or anything else) at all, just top dress with compost and extract of compost and mulch well.

So lots of variables.... but personally, I would stop pinching those flowers! Waste of good (potential) tomatoes. If your tomatoes had a healthy root system when you put them out and you buried them deeper than they were in the pot, they will be fine. Enjoy some of those early tomatoes.
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rainbowgardener
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Neat Idea!

Sun Jun 20, 2010 6:05 pm

I agree that you need to drill holes in the bottom, but I do like how nice and neat it looks. I would fill that with lettuce,spinach,and other leafy veggies
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bsflower13
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Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:34 am

Controversy! I should have known it wouldn't be so simple.. Thanks to everyone for your responses. I'm glad you guys like my bookshelf too.

Well it's pretty clear that my plants need some more room.. even 12 plants in a 4x8 foot bed have more room than mine. I think I'll go with two in the box and the put the rest into pots. This is my first personal garden so I'm bound to hit some snags en route.

NOW, here's another issue.. I planted my tomatoes from seed in the spring and I put a few seeds in each seeding tray. now I have this going on:


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Am I correct in worrying that three individual plants shouldn't be coming out of the same spot?

Thanks again, Tom
rhoderider
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Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:35 am

PS Fear not, I drilled many holes!
rhoderider
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Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:49 am

You really need to "thin" those plants to one at a station. It looks like you have 3 growing at each station. That will only hurt the plants by them fighting for nutrients and room.

I go by the staple of 2 foot minimum for tomato plants.

By using pots like you suggested that would give you some more fruit and help the plants out by giving them the room they need.

Good luck.
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gixxerific
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Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:57 am

I really like your planter made from a book shelf! Gosh, I see them on the side of the road all the time, just waiting for the garbage man to pick up. It would be great for a salad table for the elderly...Thanks for the pic!

EG
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engineeredgarden
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Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:58 am

The fact that you need more space has been covered. I do think that you can get away with two tomato plants in each "shelf", but the cucumbers will take more space. You'd be surprised how many cukes you'll get from one plant, if you pick them regularly. You can, however, trim a cucumber plant as it gets overgrown for your space. As for those tightly sprouted tomatos, I would cut the weakest ones off at the surface, rather that pull the roots out.
orgoveg
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Mon Jun 21, 2010 12:32 pm

OK, you definitely have to thin those plants to 1 to a spot. You seeded them fine, it's just that once the seedling emerge, they are usually thinned by their first or second true leaves.

Now, I think you may be able to get away with 2 toms to a shelf, but no more than that.

Of course, this is coming from a someone who planted their tomatoes 1 ft. apart in rows 18 in. apart :lol:.

If you don't have enough room to have you plants properly spaced (if there is such a thing), instead of crowding them in like me, why don't you give a few away to friends or family?

Good luck.
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garden5
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Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:34 pm

The bookshelf is definately an interesting idea...

Could you tell me if it's laminated particle board? or real wood?
I would imagine, if it is laminated particle board, that it'll warp, bow, peel, saturate, and mold once the water leaches into it from the soil. I also wonder how the glue would effect plants and soil.

But if it's solid wood, that's a really cool idea! Have you noticed any 'buckling' or warping?
Thomas CA
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Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:50 pm

Thomas CA wrote:The bookshelf is definately an interesting idea...

Could you tell me if it's laminated particle board? or real wood?
I would imagine, if it is laminated particle board, that it'll warp, bow, peel, saturate, and mold once the water leaches into it from the soil. I also wonder how the glue would effect plants and soil.

But if it's solid wood, that's a really cool idea! Have you noticed any 'buckling' or warping?


I believe it's laminated particle board with screwed connections. It's been up and running for over a month and I've seen no bowing yet.. wish me luck.

This has been very helpful! again, thank you all.

Here's my final plan:
1. cut the weakest tomatoes from each cluster so I have only one growing in each spot.
2. Keep two tomato plants in the shelf, transplant the rest to buckets.
I know some would recommend heavily that I only put one in the shelf but given money constraints etc I'm gonna try two this year. If it doesn't work, I'll put 1 next summer.
3. Keep two cucumber plants in the shelf, transplant the rest to buckets.


Sound alright?
rhoderider
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Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:53 pm

I can tell you that the cukes will likely make their way over that railing and down. The bright side...you'll be able to harvest them from the ground floor! LOL
They can get pretty big. Last year, my cuke plants got to be about 7ft tall w/ a trellis and about 5ft wide...each!

Are you planning on using any sort of trellis or lattice for these?

Are your tomatoes determinate or indeterminate? Determinate=small/almost bush style...will stop growing once it reaches it's optimum size.
Indeterminate=huge, reaching vines that will grow wildly and as much as it can.

Can you fit a tomato cage in the shelf space?

I'm not knocking you in any way.
I really do like your idea of using a bookcase for growing, you just have to be sure to match the right plants for the space.
Thomas CA
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