Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Planning the Tomato Crop

I can't think of any crop that's more important for happiness than home-grown tomatoes. They are one of the veggies that, in my opinion, money can't buy.

Last year I planted tomatoes three times. The first batch was killed by a surprise hail storm, the second by a series of late season freezes that even a couple of makeshift hoop houses couldn't withstand. The last batch made it through most of the season until we lost our agricultural water in July. Still, we ended up with enough tomatoes to supply our household for about 3/4 of the year. I say 3/4 but that's a guess. I still have some tomatoes in the freezer, and one jar in the cupboard as well, because I was so stingy with them throughout the year. Also, I bought fresh tomatoes from the store from time to time.

This year I want to go all the way. I want to grow enough to keep us up to our necks in preserved tomatoes for the entire year. And have enough to share. And enough green ones at the end of the season to store and use as they ripen. I'm not sure exactly how to calculate this amount except to well, just guess, and double the number of plants. I do know one thing. I'm going to keep better records this year, and actually measure output by variety if I can.

I'd love to hear how others plan their tomato crops.


  1. I had to think about this a bit. My tomato plan is as simple as growing way more than I need so that should something happen, and it always does, I will have just enough. Hail wiped out our tomatoes in 2008 and 2009 was the best year ever.

  2. I am going to plant mine in 12 inch pots so I can move them away from harm when necessary and conserve water and nutrients. Peace

  3. I find about 75 plants - broken down into 12-24 or so for eating fresh and the rest paste, drying types and good cooking vars work out about right for us. I make a lot of tomato based sauces, passata, chutnies etc to last the two of us right through the winter.
    P.S have you thought about growing a few types that are northern types so you can get an early crop or the storage types that you lift the whole plant just before frost hang upside down and pick as needed?

  4. Wow, 75 plants! And that's a great idea about the northern variety. I've never heard the term storage type but now I know I'll need to look into it.