Tips for Planting Tomatoes and Peppers Together

Growing two or more plants within the same area is referred to as inter-planting or companion planting. Many plants can complement each other well when grown together. However, some can create harm to each other when inter-planted. So, can you plant tomatoes and peppers together?

Yes, tomatoes and peppers can be grown together. These two plants belong to the same family which makes it easy to manage them. They share most of the nutritional needs and both prefer warm and sunny conditions. They can be planted and harvested almost at the same time. They also share a similar soil pH range of 6.0 to 7.0

Growing tomatoes and peppers together

Can you plant tomatoes and peppers together?

Tomatoes and peppers belong to a nightshade family together with other plants like eggplant and potatoes. Having similar weather and nutritional requirements, these plants can be grown quite successfully together. Here are the reasons why you can plant tomatoes and peppers together:

1. Both have similar growing conditions

Tomatoes and peppers prefer warm summer weather conditions. They can be planted after the last fall of frost when the temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they prefer a temperature range of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during flowering and fruiting season. 

2. They have similar water and nutritional requirements

When two or more plants have similar water and nutritional requirements, you can intercrop them in your garden. You simply maintain the whole garden in a similar way. Since tomatoes and peppers share the same growing conditions they can be grown together.

Nightshade family plants like tomatoes, pepper, eggplant, and potatoes are heavy feeders. They require sufficient nutrients, water, and sunlight to grow healthy and produce high yields. However, they can compete for nutrients and other natural resources when there is poor spacing and management.

3. Similar pH range of 6.0 to 7.0

When it comes to the soil, both tomatoes and peppers prefer a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. They like soil that is slightly acidic and rich in other nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.

4. Can be planted and harvested almost at the same time

Tomatoes and peppers can be planted at the same time and harvested almost at a similar time at the end of summer when winter falls in. Tomatoes and peppers also happen to appear in the same dishes. They are vital ingredients when making salads, salsas, and even sauces. It is so fulfilling to harvest and use them at the same time

5. They encourage pollinators

Interplanting tomatoes and peppers attracts various pollinators into the garden. Their bright blossoms attract bumble bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. In the process of collecting nectar, they dislodge the pollen grains from the anthers and transfer them to the stigma for fertilization.

Tips for planting tomatoes and peppers together

For tomatoes and peppers to grow together healthy, there are various care and maintenance tips that you should follow strictly. They include:

  • Planting at the correct spacing. Provide plenty of space between rows and from one plant to the other. They are supposed to be spaced 60cm to 90cm between the rows and 12 to 24 inches from one plant to the other.
  • Increasing soil fertility. Both tomatoes and peppers are heavy feeders they require sufficient nutrients and grow and remain healthy throughout the season. Provide them with a balanced fertilizer every two weeks. However, you should go slow on nitrogen and increase phosphorus and potassium when they approach flowering.
  • Pruning when necessary. Pruning increases airflow around the plant and reduces the risk of fungal infections. Use shears to remove excess branches and older leaves that are on the lower part of the plant.
  • Staking and trellis the tomatoes early. Delaying to stake your tomatoes early can cause them to fall on the ground. Use cages, twine, posts, or string trellises to stake your tomatoes.
  • Avoid watering the foliage. Both tomatoes and peppers are prone to fungal infection. Watering on the foliage, especially in the evening encourages the growth of the fungi.

How far apart should tomatoes and peppers be planted?

Correct spacing of tomatoes and peppers is an important aspect of healthy and productive plants. Spacing them largely depends on tomato variety, soil fertility, soil moisture content, type of machinery to use for subsequent farm operations, and the inter-planted crops.

Generally, the ideal spacing for tomatoes and peppers is between 60cm to 90cm between the rows and 30cm to 60 cm within the plants.

Correct spacing is a trick that many gardeners know but they don’t put it into practice. When it comes to planting tomatoes together with peppers, proper spacing is beneficial in several ways including the following:

  • Increases Production. Spacing tomatoes and peppers appropriately guarantees a higher yield. The plants obtain the necessary nutrients in the oil without competition.
  • Maximizes nutrient intake. Plants require nutrients to grow healthy. These nutrients come from the sun, soil, and other amendments added to the soil. The plants will not compete for these resources when planted at the correct spacing. They will maximize the use of nutrients and other natural resources around and in the soil.
  • Eases weeding. Weeds compete with plants for nutrients and other resources. They may also host pests and diseases that can attack your crops. When your plants are planted closely, it makes it difficult to control the weeds.
  • Helps in proper pest and disease control. Tomatoes and peppers are attacked by similar pests and diseases. Planting them close to each other increases the spread of pests and diseases. Fungi thrive in damp and moist conditions provided by crowded plants.
  • Ease of Harvest. Harvesting fruits from tomatoes and peppers becomes easier when planted at the proper spacing. You can access the plants from any side without interference from the neighboring plants. It also provides enough space for ease of movement during harvesting.

Factors that influence tomato and pepper spacing

Here are the factors that may influence tomato and pepper spacing:

Soil Fertility

If the soil fertility in your garden is good, it can allow closer spacing between two plants as compared to when the soils are poor. Tomatoes and peppers belong to the same family. They have similar water and nutritional requirements. When you plant them closely in poor soils, they will compete for nutrients.

Tomato variety

Spacing is largely determined by the tomato variety you are inter-planting with pepper. Determinant tomato varieties are small in height but are bushy. They require more spacing when intercropped with peppers.

On the other hand, indeterminate tomato varieties are vining and can grow to higher heights. Therefore, they can be closely spaced with peppers. However, the spacing range should remain between 60 cm to 90cm between the rows.

Type of machinery to use

The type of machinery you are going to use for watering, weeding, spraying, and harvesting also determines the space between the 2 intercropped plants. Large machinery requires more space within the row to move freely while small machinery needs less space.

Soil moisture content

When the soil moisture is adequate, you can plant tomatoes and peppers a bit closer. However, low soil moisture content or rainfall may necessitate wider spacing. 

Interplanted crops

Growing tomatoes and peppers in the same field requires wider spacing. It helps to prevent competition for nutrients and other natural resources.

What not to plant with tomatoes

There are some plants that you should not inter-plant with tomatoes regardless of the case. Some of these plants produce harmful chemicals that can cause tomato plants to have stunted growth and poor production. Others can also host pests and diseases that may attack tomatoes.

Some of the plants not to grow with tomatoes include the following:

  • Walnuts: Avoid planting tomatoes near or under walnut or butter trees. They produce an allopathic chemical known as juglone. It inhibits growth and production in tomatoes, the plants become stunted. It also affects other plants that belong to a nightshade family like peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and cucumber.
  • Fennel: Fennel also produces a chemical substance from its roots that inhibits the growth of tomatoes and other plants that belong to the nightshade family.
  • Dill: This plant also interferes with tomato growth. It causes the plants to become stunted and decreases productivity. Dill plants should be planted away from tomatoes in the garden.
  • Corn: Interplanting corn and tomatoes can cause a disaster in your garden. These two plants are susceptible to the same pests. Earworm that affects corn is the same as tomato fruit worms.
  • Cabbage: All plants that belong to a brassica family are bad companions to tomatoes. They include cabbage, broccoli, collards, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, rutabaga, and turnips. These plants can cause stunted growth in tomatoes.

Final Thoughts

Several crops can complement each other well when inter-planted with tomatoes. For instance, vegetable plants like spinach, and lettuce can enjoy shade from the tall tomato plants.

Members of the onion family like chives, red onions, and garlic are also excellent companion plants for tomatoes. They produce a pungent smell that deters insect pests from attacking the tomatoes

Interplanting asparagus and tomatoes benefit each other mutually. Asparagus prevents tomatoes from nematodes attack while on the other hand, tomato plants produce a smell that repels the asparagus beetles.

Since both tomatoes and peppers have similar growth and nutritional requirements. This makes them a great companion in the garden. However, they require proper care, spacing, and maintenance to produce maximum yields.

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