You can grow 2-3 tomato plants in a single line in a 2×4 foot raised bed. This will allow each tomato around 2 feet of growing space in width and around 1.5 feet of space to grow horizontally. This will be the minimum size needed to grow tomatoes and the best choice for this space is a bush variety like cherry tomatoes.
I have a raised garden bed which is around this size and I am growing a range of fruit and vegetables together. There is plenty of room for 3 tomato plants to grow happily with space in between for air movement and for their roots to spread and absorb the nutrients they need.
This article will explore how many tomato plants to grow in a 2×4 bed and tips and trick to do this successfully.
How to grow tomatoes in a 2×4 foot raised bed
Here are my tips to successfully grow lots of tomatoes in a 2×4 raised bed. This will keep the plant healthy and give you lots of tomatoes over summer.
1. Choose a bush variety
When growing tomatoes in a 2×4 foot raised bed area is can be best to choose a bush variety. Cherry tomatoes or romas are a great example of bush or determinant varieties of tomatoes. These grow to a maximum size in height and then stop growing.
For raised garden bed this is fantastic because it means that you will always be able to reach the top of the tomato plant. My raised garden bed is already around 2 feet high and adding the height of the tomato plant brings it to over 7 feet.
This makes it tricky to reach the top of a tomato plant if it grows too high. Indeterminant varieties like large growing Grosse Lisse will grow incredibly tall and make it tricky to stake and reach when growing in a raised garden bed.
This makes bush varieties the perfect choice for raised beds and these are easy to keep pruned and easy to reach.
2. Use tomato cages or stakes
The next tip to successfully grow tomatoes in a 2×4 space is to stake them well. This will stop them from flopping over and touching the soil or leaning against the other tomato plants. Place the stake in straight after planting the new seedling and place it around 4 inches away from the base of the plant.
This will give the tomato enough space to grow its roots while keeping the stem close enough so you can tie it up as it grows. It is important to check the plant every week when it is growing in spring as it will rapidly increase in height and need tying to avoid it breaking.
Another option to keep your tomato plants growing well in a 2×4 space is to use a tomato cage. This is a wire cage that fits over the top of your plant to hold it in and keep it upright. This benefit of these are that you do not need to tie the bush because the cage will hold it up.
3. Prune the side growing branches
To keep a tomato plant small enough to grow in a 2×4 foot space it will be important to prune off the excess branches that grow from the center off the bush. This can be done by pinching the growth off from where the leaf joins the stem while it is small.
I like to leave some side branches to grow to allow the tomato to bush out but too many will start to creep across and touch the other tomato plants. It is best to allow the plants space between each other to allow for air movement to avoid pests and diseases passing from plant to plant.
This will also allow the leaves of each plant to get as much sun as possible and for the flowers to be pollinated by passing bees.
4. Good quality soil
When growing tomatoes in raised beds in smaller areas it is important to have good quality soil to plant them into. When filling raised garden beds it is easy to use a raised garden mix as this will contain a mix of sand and composted pine bark and will generally hold its structure better than a regular potting mix.
I then like to mix through aged cow manure or aged chicken manure in bags to boost the nutrient value of the soil to support the tomato plant to grow quickly when you first plant it out.
Add a small handful of pelleted chicken manure to the plant after it is in the ground to give it a nitrogen boost to help it to add leaf growth before it sets fruit.
5. Regular water
Regular water is import for tomatoes in raised beds. I find that they generally dry out quicker than those grown in the ground. Mine also are shaded by an overhanging tree so sometimes get less rain on the soil. I will check the soil every 2 days and give them a deep water if they need it.
This is particularly important over summer when the soil can dry out quickly.
Mulch is important for tomatoes in raised beds to prevent the soil from drying out. This can be added when you plant them or in summer to give them added protection in the heat. Sugar cane mulch, straw or bark mulch will all work well.
My favorite mulch for tomato plants in raised beds is sugar cane as it breaks down quickly into the soil to feed the soil microbes and can be dug through at the end of the season.
These are my top tips for successfully growing 3 tomato plants in a 2×4 raised bed. You can also add other plants in the 2×4 garden bed instead of filling it with tomatoes to give you a range of produce. I have also planted habanero peppers, strawberries and herbs.
How many tomato plants in a 2×4 raised bed? | Summary
I like to plant a maximum of 3 tomato plants in a 2×4 foot raised bed. You can also mix in other plants instead of filling it with tomatoes which I have done this year so I can have some peppers and strawberries as well. Raised beds this size will work well with bush tomatoes that are staked.
I love cherry tomatoes for small spaces as they will keep producing throughout the summer and give you lots of salad tomatoes to eat at home.
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I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.