How to Determine Hoophouse Density for Tomatoes and Peppers

Courtesy of Adithya Ramachandran, Kaleidoscope Vegetable Gardens, Dundurn SK

When growing tomatoes in a hoophouse, think about how many plants you would grow on the same amount of space outdoors, divide that by 3, and plant only that number in the hoophouse. This is particularly important for tomatoes because they can get HUGE in a hoophouse. I learned that the hard way my first year with high tunnels. Not only does it make it difficult to work in there, but it also increases disease and pest issues, and they compete with one another for water and nutrients. You can improve your yield per square foot by planting fewer plants. This is particularly so if you don’t prune the plants (which I don’t do – too labor-intensive).

Peppers don’t get as crazy as tomatoes, but they also consume a lot of water and are very shallow-rooted, so again there can be competition if they are crowded.

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Trellising Tomatoes

Courtesy of Michael B, Austin, TX
You can fit about 1 tomato tripod per 6 sq. ft. or so.  The tripod is held together at the top by twine.  I allow my first sucker to develop as the second leader and then trim every sucker from then on out. I usually use the stretchy plastic ties for the first leader connected to the bamboo because twine can suffocate it if you tie it too tight.  I come out once per week to pull suckers and to make sure the second leader is being wrapped by the twine. The bamboo poles are 8′ and are sunk down about 1′. The downward pressure from the second leader makes the setup very sturdy and leaves you with about 7′ vines
(plenty for most varieties.) Super simple, and very little upfront cost.