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July 4, 2011

Too many tomatoes, how to plan tomato harvest

I always overplant, meaning I plant too much of some things that we cannot possibly eat in the amounts harvested, especially tomatoes. When planning a garden, you should not only think of what you want to plant, but also how to take care of these plants as well as what are you going to do with the harvest. Granted, it is difficult to predict if the yield will be substantial or dismal, because it depends on a number of things, such as weather, plant diseases, insect attacks and purely your own time devoted to the garden. Sometimes you end up with too much of a good thing:

These grape tomatoes from Sam's club bought tomatoes that I saved seeds from grew like crazy and the yields were absolutely insane:

When you have that much of a crop coming up all at the same time it might be too much of a good thing if you are unprepared. So, how do we plan for the future harvest in a manner that a certain crop does not overwhelm us, but at the same time providing for a variety of vegetables in a garden?

I imagine, the first thing to think about would be what is it your family likes to eat and in what quantities. If you are buying two pounds of tomatoes per week in the store, then you know that you need that much from the garden. An average tomato plant yields about  four to five pounds of tomatoes, total. That means if you plant one tomato plant you can expect to harvest four to five pounds of tomatoes. Usually, indeterminate varieties will fruit over time, for approximately a month or two in length, but not all at once. So, if you expect to harvest a quarter pound per week per tomato, then you need eight plants to provide you with two pounds per week. This is not an exact science, of course. For comparison, I normally have a hundred tomato plants of various types in the garden per season. You can see now where I run into trouble ... :)

Take a look at this book if you do not already have it. In Vegetable Gardening in Florida James Stephens lists yields for all commonly grown vegetables in Florida, so you could calculate how many seeds or plants you need to put into the ground to sufficiently provide your family with vegetables, as well as not being overrun by them:


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