Crop rotation

billyberueJuly 27, 2011

For the last 12 years I have planted toms in the same spot of my 12' x 60' plot. 2/3's of my plot is planted with around 60 tomatoes and the rest of the space with hot peppers, beans and cukes. Now fighting blights of different kinds on my toms for the 3rd year in a row, I'm willing to try anything to have hope for a better 2012. I've done everything that Dave, Carolyn, Mulio and more have suggested here over the years, except crop rotation. Would it be worth a try to plant less toms and 'mirror' their location in the plot from year to year? Also, I'm now growing practically all heirloom varieties - maybe I should plant more hybrids?

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zzackey(8b GA)

Geez! You have been blessed to get away with not rotating crops all those years! It should be done every year! Rotating your crops should help alot with viruses, diseases and insects. Also it is not just by each plant it is by the plant family. Tomatoes, potatoes, petunias and tobacco are in the same family.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 4:48PM
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Some may have more to contribute to this than myself, but I don't believe that there is any benefit to crop rotation to the home gardener.

It can be a different story if you have issues with systemic diseases, like certain wilts, but that shouldn't be a problem based on your location.

Foliage disease spores, like early blight, blow around in the wind and can splash up from the soil dealing with that - if it's common in your area - is just a fact of life.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 5:22PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

If you've had Bacterial Canker, "affected areas should be rotated out of tomatoes for at least 3 years. Weeds belonging to the Solanaceae family should be destroyed."

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 8:22PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

I've been gardening since 1986 and have never practiced rotation. Most years I do grow a fall crop where the tomatoes were planted, so maybe that factors in, but tomatoes are grown in the same beds every year.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 12:13PM
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I don't have an option when it comes to crop rotation- my tomatoes have to be planted in the same raised bed every year. I had a problem with bacterial speck a few years ago... after the first year it would happen faster the next, and with greater severity. Carolyn answered my questions about it a number of years ago, and her main recommendation was to mulch heavily so that soil borne pathogens don't splash up on to the leaves when it rains. I now make it a standard procedure when planting to never reuse wood stakes from season to season, and to be excessively careful about getting soil on the leaves when I plant. Also, as directed, I mulch very heavily after planting. I have found that these precautions have eradicated any of the tomato diseases caused by planting in the same spot every year. Airborne things may still infect from time to time, but the results of the care I now take to avoid infectious carryover from year to year have worked remarkably well. I'm going on 10 years in the same bed for my heirloom tomatoes, and my plants are always lush and green with very little leaf discoloration or spotted fruits. I do very little by way of fertilization other than amending with compost, and I use no sprays or chemicals (organic or otherwise). I would say that the precautions seem (even to me) a little over the top, but I truly can't argue with the results. Best of luck to you.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 2:45PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

In one garden, where I've had Septoria the past two years and early blight last year, I just stopped growing tomatoes (and related plants) this year and next. In 2013 I'll try again. What's sad is that my first year planting, 2007, I had no disease problems whatever. I suspect some of these diseases come in on transplants, and once they arrive, they're very hard to eradicate. And I do rotate. Carolyn's mulching idea sounds like a good one, once I start up again in that garden.

Oh, and I change shoes and wash my clothes when traveling from one garden to the other.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 10:04PM
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I've been growing tomatoes in my garden for over 10 years now, and every year it seems my plants are less vigorous and more prone to disease. My yard is too small and I want tomatoes so I never did crop-rotation.
My solution? This year, I convinced my boss to let me convert the landscaped area at the office into a vegetable garden. OMG, it's been years since I have seen such beautiful, huge, disease-free tomato plants and fruits! I had almost forgotten that mine were like that, in the beginning. With this virgin soil, all I amended it with was composted chicken manure and bags of Kellog's Amend. Not too much either. My home garden, on the other hand, has fluffy nice soil with both manure and home-grown compost, worm casings, bone meal, you name it. Yet the tomatoes are doing very poorly. I've already yanked 6 out of 24 out.
Next year, I will grow only beans at home and grow all the heirloom toms I want at the office--the boss decided he's gonna convert all the grounds into vegetable beds. We have hot chiles, cucumbers, zucchini, beans and of course toms. All of us employees cook and eat the produce at lunch daily,share different ethnic recipes and take turns cooking. And what a stress reliever to be able to spend your breaks in the garden right outside the door!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 3:09AM
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Peebee1, what a great post! Sounds like a very healthy workplace.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 5:42PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

Can I come work there?!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 7:36PM
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Four years ago I planted my first tomato garden. I harvested 5 gallon buckets of tomatoes more days than not. Harvests have declined every year since. Last summer we had to take down a large oak tree, creating a new sun garden. This year I planted the same varieties in it that are planted in my original tomato garden - but the yield in the new garden is at least 3 times the yield from the established garden. I plan to give the original garden a break for a few years once this season is finished.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 8:55PM
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My wife is convinced the lack of crop rotation is contributing to the garden problems we have with our tomatoes (mainly BER and/or late wilt).

Next year, we are going to go with maters in a bucket and use the back yard garden area for other stuff (thinking about tinkering with some corn just for giggles).

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 8:53AM
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I might try straw bale gardening. A friend of mine tried it this season and had more success than with bucket...

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 9:10AM
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peebee, that is amazing that your boss has allowed that. I wish more places would have veggies instead of only ornamental plants.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 7:31PM
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