How Many Tomato Plants Should I Plant Per Person?

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how many tomato plants per person

So you wonder how many tomato plants you need to grow per person?

Whether you’re looking to feed a family of four or just yourself, this guide will help you plant the ideal amount for your tomato needs.

The Quick Answer To: How Many Tomatoes Per Person?

If you plan to grow your own tomatoes and wonder how many plants you will need, here’s a rough number:

2 tomato plants per person

The calculation:

Consumption: One mid-sized fresh tomato / day / person / season (e.g. July-August-September; 12 weeks)

= 25 lb (11 kg) / person / season

One tomato plant’s average yield: 10-20 lb (5-9 kg)

If you also want to can tomatoes for sauce or salsa for a couple of months, you can double the above number:

4 tomato plants per person

OK, we all know, it’s just a rough estimate because there are a number of factors you still need to consider, such as

  • what kind of tomatoes you prefer (cherry, beefsteak, plum, etc.)
  • where you live (soil type, hours of sunshine, length of season, etc.)
  • what consumption needs you have (fresh, canned, frozen, etc.)

Some say it’s not even close enough and recommend planting 30-50 plants per person if you want to cover all your tomato needs for a whole year.

So, now let’s dive a little deeper so that you can decide how many and which types of tomatoes you’ll want to plant when the season starts.

Here Gardener Scott recommends 1–5 plants per person, but for additional canning purposes, he’d increase this number:

Consider The Tomato Consumption Needs

When it comes to tomato consumption, it is interesting to note that on a global scale, the average person consumes about 52 pounds (24 kg) of tomatoes (either fresh or processed) per year. In the US and Europe, this figure is higher, approx. 65–90 lb (30–40 kg) per person per year.

However, it’s just a vague starting point for calculating tomato consumption needs.

This statistic includes babies as well as those who hate tomatoes (how can that be?) and don’t eat any. Also, it depends on eating habits, cooking traditions, and personal taste how much tomato one eats.

Fresh or processed tomatoes?

First off, it’s important to consider your consumption needs. Some questions worth asking:

  • Do I like fresh or processed tomatoes?
  • Do I or my family members love pizza or salsa?
  • Do we prefer eating fresh tomatoes in sandwiches or salads?
  • Do I want to prepare my own ketchup?

Make notes about your preferences and figure out the quantity of fresh tomatoes as well as processed tomatoes you want to eat during the season and after it ends.

Here’s a little guide:

Needs / PersonBasic (lb/kg)Moderate (lb/kg)Full (lb/kg)
Fresh tomatoes (sandwich, salad) – for 3 months25 lb (11 kg)25 lb (11 kg)25 lb (11 kg)
Tomatoes for sauce (pizza, pasta) – for 6 months10 quarts (9.5 l) – 50 lb (23 kg)
Tomatoes for sauce (pizza, pasta) – for 9 months15 quarts (14 l) – 75 lb (34 kg)
Tomatoes for sauce (pizza, pasta) – for 12 months20 quarts (19 l) – 100 lb (45 kg)
Total Quantity75 lb (34 kg)100 lb (45 kg)125 lb (56 kg)
Quantities of tomato needed per person (1 quart of tomato sauce requires 5 pounds of fresh tomato)

Calculate The Yield Per Tomato Plant


The yield per tomato plant can vary depending on various factors such as climate, variety, and care.

On average, each tomato plant can produce between 10-20 pounds (4.5-9 kg) of tomatoes during a growing season. However, it is important to note that this is just an average, and individual plants may yield higher or lower amounts.

The varieties of tomato plants chosen also affect the yield. There are many different types of tomatoes available, each with its own characteristics and yield potential.

Some varieties are specifically bred for higher yields, while others may produce fewer fruits but with exceptional flavor. It is essential to choose a variety that suits your preferences and growing conditions.

Determinate or indeterminate?

As you may know, determinate or bush varieties produce fruit in a limited time frame (2-3 weeks) and that’s it, they no longer bear fruit.

On the other hand, indeterminate or vining varieties produce fruit as long as they live.

This, however, does not mean that indeterminate tomatoes yield more during a season. There are indeterminate varieties (e.g. heirloom beefsteak tomatoes) that produce large but relatively few fruits and there are determinate varieties that provide an abundant harvest even in the middle of the summer (which you can replace with other crops for the rest of the season).

Types of tomatoes you may consider

Cherry tomatoes

It’s a good idea to plant one cherry tomato per person. Throughout the season, if it’s an indeterminate variety, it will provide the family with fresh and delicious fruits.

Cherry tomatoes are the first to ripen in the season. They are small, bite-sized fruits that are generally known for their sweet, tangy flavor. They are a popular addition to salads, pastas, and various other dishes, adding a burst of freshness and juiciness.

Popular varieties of cherry tomatoes and yields:

VarietyYield (pieces)Yield per Plant (lb/kg)
Supersweet 100300-50012-18 lb (5-8 kg)
Sun Gold200-30010-15 lb (4.5-7 kg)
Black Cherry200-30013-18 lb (5-8 kg)

Paste tomatoes

Paste tomatoes, usually called Roma tomatoes (named after the best-known paste variety, Roma), are a type of tomato that is specifically cultivated and used for making sauces, pastes, and purees.

They are known for their thick flesh and relatively low water content, which makes them much more suitable for cooking and reducing into a rich, concentrated paste.

These smaller or mid-size tomatoes have an oblong, oval, or pear shape and have a meaty texture. Their low water content allows for a more concentrated tomato flavor to come through, resulting in a more flavorful and robust sauce.

When using paste tomatoes for cooking, it is common to remove the tomato skins before processing or cooking them. This is because the skins can impart a slightly bitter taste and can interfere with achieving a smooth and silky consistency.

Popular varieties of paste tomatoes and yields:

VarietyYield (pieces)Yield per Plant (lb/kg)
Roma VF100-15020-30 lb (9-13 kg)
San Marzano70-10010-18 lb (4.5-8 kg)
Amish Paste50-7020-25 lb (9-11 kg)

Beefsteak tomatoes

Beefsteak tomatoes are a popular type of tomato known for their large size and robust flavor.

These tomatoes are particularly well-suited for slicing and can be used in a variety of dishes, such as sandwiches, salads, and salsas. Their meaty texture makes them perfect for grilling or roasting.

Whether it’s a simple Caprese salad or a refreshing summer salad with mixed greens, cucumbers, and avocado, the addition of beefsteak tomatoes adds depth and complexity to the dish.

Furthermore, beefsteak tomatoes are perfect for salsas. Their robust flavor and firm texture make them an ideal base for creating a flavorful and chunky salsa.

Beefsteak tomatoes are a highly prized tomato type thanks to their large size, robust flavor, and versatility in different culinary applications.

Popular varieties of beefsteak tomatoes and yields:

VarietyYield (pieces)Yield per Plant (lb/kg)
Pineapple15-2513-22 lb (6-10 kg)
Better Boy30-5020-40 lb (10-18 kg)
Big Beef15-2010-15 lb (4.5-7 kg)

DANIEL’S RECOMMENDATION

Based on my experience, these varieties have good yields and are fairly easy to grow. I recommend planting these 5 plants per person:

  • 1 cherry tomato plant: Supersweet 100
  • 2 paste tomato plants: Amish Paste, Roma VF
  • 1 mid-size tomato plant: Nepal
  • 1 beefsteak tomato plant: Better Boy

This “tomato package” should yield approx. 100-120 lb (45-55 kg) per person, covering the needs of fresh as well as processed tomatoes for 6-12 months.

Other factors you need to consider

Climate plays a significant role in the yield of tomato plants. Tomatoes thrive in warm and sunny weather, as they require a minimum temperature of about 60 °F (15 °C) and preferably around 70-80 °F (21-26 °C).

If you live in an area with a shorter growing season, selecting early-maturing or cold-tolerant varieties is essential.

Proper care and cultivation practices are crucial for maximizing the yield of tomato plants. This includes providing adequate spacing between plants to allow for proper air circulation and sunlight exposure.

Regular watering, fertilizing, and pruning are essential for healthy growth and optimal fruit production. Additionally, proper pest and disease management can help protect the plants from potential damage and reduce yield losses.

FAQ About How Many Tomato Plants To Plant Per Person

Is it possible to plant more than three tomato plants per person?

Certainly! If you have enough gardening space and wish to have a larger harvest of tomatoes, you can plant more than three tomato plants per person. However, it is essential to consider the available space, the plants’ ability to receive adequate sunlight, and the maintenance required to ensure optimal growth.

How much space do tomato plants require?

Tomato plants generally need around 2-3 ft (60-90 cm) of spacing between each other, depending on the variety. Giving them enough space allows for proper airflow, which helps prevent diseases and allows the plants to receive sufficient sunlight and nutrients from the soil.

Can I plant tomato plants in containers?

Yes, tomato plants can be successfully grown in containers, making them a suitable option for those with limited gardening space. When planting in containers, choose a larger pot (5-10 gallons / 10-20 liters) that can accommodate the roots and provide room for growth. Ensure that the containers have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging and use high-quality potting soil to provide the necessary nutrients for the plants.


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AUTHOR

I'm a keen hobby gardener. I love growing fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes. I'm also a certified instructor of the Square Foot Gardening Foundation.