How Many Tomato Plants Per Person Should you Plant?

If you’re thinking about starting a vegetable garden, tomatoes are likely on your list. They’re versatile, delicious, and can be used in a variety of dishes from fresh salads to tomato sauce for things like pasta.

hands holding tomatoes

But when it comes to planning your garden, how many tomato plants should you grow per person to ensure you have enough for your family’s needs throughout the year? Today we are going to explore the best way to determine the number of tomato plants you need to plant.

Our family loves tomatoes.  There’s nothing quite like a toasted tomato sandwich in the middle of summer after you’ve picked a fresh tomato off the vine.  I know many others enjoy tomatoes too.  

But part of growing my garden is to put up some of the harvest for the winter.  There’s five of us in this family and it can be hard to determine how much I need to plant if I want them to last all year long.

Tomatoes were one of the first vegetables I ever planted when I started gardening 7 years ago. When I thought of a vegetable garden, the first vegetables that came to my mind were tomatoes and cucumbers so naturally I wanted to plant both.

They both seem to be the most commonly grown vegetables in my neck of the woods. While some years have been better than others in growing tomatoes, I’ve always yielded some kind of larger crop.  I usually harvest a lot of tomatoes each year and so it’s always worth it for me to grow tomatoes.

And so, every year it’s worth it for me to plant more. I like to plant a variety of tomatoes.  Big, beefsteak tomatoes are perfect for sandwiches, Roma tomatoes are the ones I love to use for sauce, and cherry tomatoes are the ones we go for when we just want a snack.  

Kids love to stand in the garden barefoot eating cherry tomatoes!

I also like to plant an extra plant or two above the amount I plant for my family because I expect that there’s always the possibility that one or two of my seedlings just won’t make it and will die.

Now, that being said, I interchange them.  Of course there are certain tomatoes that are ideal for different uses, but I’ve used all kinds of tomatoes for sauce, and I’ve sliced my little cherry tomatoes for sandwiches.  I use what I have on hand and that works just fine.

So, let’s get into how you can determine how many tomato plants you need to grow to meet your family’s needs this year.

tomatoes on the vine

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How Many Plants Per Person Should you Plant

While there are some factors to consider which we get into as this post goes along, I’m not going to make you read the whole thing to find the simplest, ballpark figure answer.  

If you want to grow enough tomatoes for your family this year, I suggest you plant around 5 plants per person. A general recommendation for the number of tomato plants per person is 3-5 plants. 

However, this can vary depending on a variety of factors including the size of your garden space, the specific tomato varieties you choose, your local growing conditions, and your family’s tomato consumption habits.

How many tomatoes does your family eat?

Really, the first step in determining the right number of plants to grow is to consider your family’s tomato consumption throughout the year. Do you enjoy fresh tomatoes in salads and sandwiches?

Do you like to make homemade spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce? Are you a fan of canning or preserving tomatoes for later use? These are important considerations that will help you gauge how many pounds of tomatoes you’ll need to produce to sustain your family’s tomato habit for an entire year.

How much Garden Space do you have?

The amount of garden space you have available is an important factor in determining how many tomato plants you can grow. If you have a small garden or limited space, you may need to opt for compact tomato varieties or consider growing tomatoes in containers to maximize your growing area.

On the other hand, if you have plenty of space, you may be able to plant a larger number of tomato plants to ensure you have enough for your family’s needs.

basket of tomatoes

Considering Crop Yields

When planning your tomato garden, it’s essential to consider crop yields. Different tomato varieties will produce different amounts of fruit, so it’s important to choose varieties that are known for their high yields if you want to maximize your harvest.

Additionally, providing proper support structures such as wire cages or stakes can help increase yields and prevent plants from becoming overcrowded.

Determinate vs. Indeterminate Tomato Plants

Another important consideration when planning your tomato garden is whether to choose determinate or indeterminate tomato plants. Determinate varieties tend to produce all of their fruit within a relatively short period of time, making them ideal for gardeners who want to harvest a large quantity of tomatoes for canning or preserving.

Indeterminate varieties, on the other hand, produce fruit continuously throughout the growing season, providing a steady supply of fresh tomatoes for fresh eating.  

Both kinds have their place and can be useful depending on your needs.  If you want tomatoes for the entire growing season, plant the indeterminate, but if you want a big crop all at once, determinate is the way to go.  Of course, you can always plant both.

Assessing Your Climate

Your local climate can also play a role in determining how many tomato plants to grow. In cooler climates, tomato plants may have a shorter growing season, so you may need to plant more tomato plants to ensure you have enough for the entire season.

In warmer climates or hot summer regions, you may need fewer plants as tomatoes tend to produce more fruit in these conditions. I live in a cooler climate so I like to plant more tomato plants with this in mind.  

I usually plant 5 tomato plants per person for my family.  If you live in a warmer climate you may be able to get away with only planting three per person.

Making Adjustments Based on Experience

As with any gardening endeavor, it’s important to make adjustments based on past experience. If you found that you had an abundance of tomatoes last year, you may want to plant fewer plants this year to avoid being overwhelmed with tomatoes.

On the other hand, if you didn’t have enough tomatoes to last the entire year, you may want to plant extra plants to ensure you have an ample supply.

The Best Way to Plan Your Tomato Garden

To plan your tomato garden effectively, start by assessing your family’s tomato consumption habits and available garden space. Consider factors such as crop yields, tomato varieties, support structures, and local growing conditions.

Use past experience as a guide, but be willing to make adjustments as needed. By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that you plant the right number of tomato plants to meet your family’s needs for fresh eating, canning, and preserving throughout the entire year.

tomato sitting in the sand

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Staking Tomatoes

It’s really important that you stake your tomatoes.  If you don’t, they will sit on the ground and eventually rot.   How heart breaking would it be that you went through all that work of growing your tomatoes only to not be able to harvest them?

Many people use tomato cages but I have often found that they just aren’t strong enough!  It’s amazing how strong tomato plants are, and my cages would bend and fall over.  Definitely don’t get dollar store tomato cages as these ones are even weaker.

We just use pieces of wood that we stake into the ground.  We drive them deep into the ground, and make sure we use thicker pieces of wood so that they will hold the weight of the tomato plant.  You want to make sure they are tall enough, too.  Tomato plants can grow quite tall!  I like stakes that are around 4 feet.

Once you stake them into the ground, you can loosely tie your tomato plant to the stake as they grow.  I buy garden string and use that.

Grow Enough Tomatoes this year for the Whole Family

Just like anything with homesteading or gardening, There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how many tomato plants to grow per person. It ultimately depends on your family’s tomato consumption habits, garden space, climate, and personal preferences.

However, by considering these factors and following general guidelines, you can determine the best number of tomato plants to plant to ensure you have enough fresh tomatoes to enjoy throughout the entire year.

So go ahead, plant those tomato plants, and get ready to enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious, homegrown tomatoes! 



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