Growing Tomatoes in Same Spot

pink_warm_mama_1(Z4 Maine)April 25, 2012

Our gardening space is limited to one 8'x4' bed. Tomatoes were grown there last season, and we'd like to grow them there again. However, it's said that tomatoes should not be re-grown in the same space. Is this an old wives' tale? Or what can be done to the soil to make it possible to do so?

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I grow tomatoes in the same spot every year because the fence I use for support is there. I've found no problem doing that. Rotating crops is not an old wive's tale and you would probably want to do it if you were a large commercial grower. For home gardens, I wouldn't worry about it.
John A

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 11:42AM
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Make sure you amend the soil with lots of compost as tomatoes can deplete the soil.

If you start getting blights, best to move them or give it a rest for a couple of years.

Alternatively, you might want to consider containers.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 12:32PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

If you start getting blights, best to move them or give it a rest for a couple of years.

Let's replace blights in that sentence with diseases.

There are three particular diseases with blight in the name: Early, Late, and Southern -- and none of them are limited to what the name implies.

But those blights are only three of dozens of diseases which affect tomato plants to a greater or lesser degree.

Crop rotation can reduce the risk of certain diseases, but does nothing to prevent others (for example, Late Blight).

Because of indiscriminate use of the word blight, I've seen gardeners on this forum (who thought all disease was blight and all blight was Late Blight) uproot tomatoes they thought were fatally ill with Late Blight which instead had a much less serious disease and didn't need to be destroyed.

I've also seen gardeners who seemed to think all tomato diseases were a single disease named blight, and therefore thought any spray would treat everything. As a result, they spent a great deal of money on sprays which could not help against the particular disease their plant had.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 2:18PM
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Good points missingtheobvious.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 3:20PM
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The home gardener in most cases has no choice but to grow in the same spot every year, and there is no problem with doing that.

There are certain soil borne diseases that can build up in the soil over time, but I haven't had this particular issue. In the case where you have soil borne wilts like Verticulum, Fusarium, bacterial wilt, etc., rotating may help stave off these diseases in some cases.

Things like early blight can come and go from year to year... Though in my area, it's just something you have to try to prevent (either with spraying or pruning / mulching) or live with... And rotating your garden won't really make much of a difference with regards to early blight.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 3:42PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I grew tomatoes in the same field for 15 years with no problems, that is with foliage diseases, and only occasionally do we have soilborne systemic diseases here in the North.

But each Fall my farmer friend would plow under deeply, sow winter rye and then prep the field for me again in the Spring.

What you've talked about are diseases in general and that's been mentioned above, and turning the soil over deeply, which you can do in a home garden as well with a spade, not a rototiller, helps bury fungal spores and bacteria that have been shed to the ground by infected plants.

But can do nothing for the common foliage diseases that are NEW ones spread via wind and rain the next season.

I did use Daconil, the best anti-fungal product for helping to prevent fungal foliage diseases IMO and plants were sprayed as soon as they were put out.

If you're talking about nutrients being depleted by tomatoes then know that tomatoes are not heavy feeders as are Cabbage and others like that. Getting into what to fertilize with and how much and when is a complex subject and I know there's lots of threads here about that.

I can only tell you that when setting plants out I put nothing in the planting hole except the plant and then water it in well. After about two weeks I used to fertilize with 5/10/10, or similar and then no more fertilizer until the plants set fruits.

If the season was a rainy one I'd foliar feed with Fish or seaweed late in the season.

I've gone through several different phases in growing tomatoes and above I'm referring to when I put out many hundreds of plants and varieties each year. When I moved to where I am now I stopped using granular fertilizer and tried to grow more organically using ESpoma and some other products.

Finally, it's good to know that both Early Blight ( A. solani) and Late Blight ( P. infestans) can occur either early or late in the season. Late Blight is not a foliage disease, it's much more serious than that and Southern Blight is a soilborne systemic disease. The most common foliage diseases are;

Ealy Blight and Septoria Leaf Spot, both fungal
Bacterial Speck and Bacterial Spot, obviously both bacterial. LOL


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 3:46PM
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tdscpa(z5 NWKS)

I use a variation of Carolyn's method, except I don't grow a winter grassy crop. I do clean up every trace of last year's plants (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins), and till into the soil my root and bulb crop leftovers, cornstalks, and asparagus ferns.

My tractor/tiller is too large for my garden, so I till it thoroughly, driving in a tight circle, many times. This moves all my soil a long way from where it was!

I grow my crops in the same place every year, but I rotate my soil!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 12:03AM
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I overwintered some of my tomato and pepper plants and they are thriving and putting new fruit. I guess this puts the issue behind about same spot. I do fertilize and side dress to keep the nutrition going, along with add compost each year.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 12:53PM
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I live in East Central Florida. I use Daconil to control a Fungus problem on my tomato plants which I understand comes from the soil. This is only a problem during warm, rainy spells.
My question is: would a thorough treatment of the soil with Daconil prior to setting the seedlings be of any value in preventing the problem.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 10:39AM
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It was suggested to me that we skip a season, grow in pots, or bring in new dirt.

If I wanted to grow in pots, how about the alternative, dig holes in the garden and put new dirt just where I plant. Does that seem reasonable?

If we do want to replace dirt, can anyone suggest where to look? Does it mean bags of soil from a nursery?

In the mean time, I'm going to have my soil tested and see if there are any solutions to make the tomatoes happier.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 3:28PM
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You don't need to replace your dirt, just amend it.

Whoever told you to replace your dirt just wants to sell you dirt!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 11:37PM
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