Can tomatoes be grown in the same bed year after year

allenwrenchJuly 24, 2008

If I feed the soil, can tomatoes be grown in the same bed year after year?

I would like to make a trellis system, but don't want to keep tearing it down each year.

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city_tomato

As long as you add ammendments to your soil each year, yes.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 3:42PM
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code_1_corey(8b)

I agree, but after about three consecutive years its said to be best if you let the bed grow grass for one season, then you can return to growing tomato the following season. A lot of people will have two beds and alternate every year in order to help prevent soil borne diseas.

Corey

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 4:12PM
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bigdaddyj(Zone7)

I have grown tomatoes in the same bed for 17 years.

My mother has grown in the same bed for 35 years.

If your bed is in good shape the tomatoes could care less how many years it's been...:)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 8:20PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Same here - still growing tomatoes in all the same places I have for years. Good soil amendment in the off-season is the key.

Dave

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 10:28PM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

ÂJust curious, how many of you (who grow tomatoes in the same spot year after year) grow rye or another winter crop to cover your tomato beds in the off season?

ÂIf you do grow a cover crop, would you say that the winter cover is a major factor in soil health making it possible to grow healthy tomatoes year after year w/o buildup of destructive diseases and insects?

ÂIf you don't grow a cover crop, what specifically do you do to achieve healthy soil conditions for your tomatoes year after year, say for 15 - 35 years?

ÂIs it true that winter rye cleans the soil of destructive nematodes, or adds beneficial nematodes, can't remember which.....?

ÂDo you turn your soil in the fall? I read it helps kill hornworm pupea, I guess by exposing the pupae to the elements during winter, (and to bird predation?).

Hope you have time to pen down your tried-and-true methods. It'll be greatly appreciated!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 1:36AM
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sudzy(5b IL)

I read that growing in the same spot year after year increases your chances of getting the tobacco mosaic virus. Any truth in that?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 3:53AM
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lilacs_of_may

What about container tomatoes? I read somewhere that you should dump the soil and start over with new every year, but 1) that's expensive, and 2) where do you put all of that container soil each year? You can't really put it in the garden because it's only for containers.

What amendments should you put into container soil then? (Besides dolomite, that is.)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 3:57AM
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wild_forager

I use the same palce every year as well, and my plants do get diseased. I'm looking into highly resistant varieties to cope with that. I don't have any more space so it's there or nowhere. I also grow in pots, and there's no way I'm dumping 30 bucks worth of mix out of each pot (large pots) every year.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 8:37AM
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elkwc(6b)

I'll add my 2 cents. I used to try to rotate, till every fall and plant a winter and early spring cover crop. Now as I've increased my mulching I've about eliminated all of it. I pull back the mulch and prepare the holes in the fall if possible and let them set all winter. As I layer the mulch I will add compost and manure. This works fine for me and seems to keep the diseases down and allows me to plant back in the same area every year.
As for container gardening I will dump the containers in a wheel barrow and mix in manure and some compost and reuse. I can't see wasting that much every year. JD

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 9:55AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I read somewhere that you should dump the soil and start over with new every year, but 1) that's expensive, and 2) where do you put all of that container soil each year? You can't really put it in the garden because it's only for containers. What amendments should you put into container soil then? (Besides dolomite, that is.)

Yes, you should use new container mix every season. If you can't afford totally fresh then you need to at least freshen it by at least half. There are many discussions about how to do that over on the Container Gardening forum. There is absolutely nothing wrong with adding used container mix to garden beds. It is not "only for containers". Many used raised beds that are filled with nothing BUT container mix. You can also add it to compost piles. As to what amendments to add to containers - fresh soil-less mix is the most obvious. Compost or slo-release fertilizer the next most obvious if the container mix doesn't already contain it. Lime is optional, not required.

I agree with elkwc that mulching is very beneficial not only for the plants but for the soil too. It is really nothing more that sheet composting. As it decomposes, it feeds the soil and improves its tilth and nutrient levels. This is assuming you use a good organic mulch such as straw, hay, shredded leaves, grass clippings, etc.

I read that growing in the same spot year after year increases your chances of getting the tobacco mosaic virus. Any truth in that?

TMV hasn't been a problem in this country for many years as even the tobacco grown in this country is TMV resistant.

ppod - yes, I plant winter cover crops in all my beds - mostly a mix of turnips, vetch, clover and some deer fodder and till it in in early spring. I also add a good 3-4" of homemade compost each spring, this in addition to all the hay mulch I used in the summer getting tilled in in the fall. 2 of my tomato gardens are going on 21 years now and the other is 14 years old.

Can't help you with the rye/nematodes as no personal experience here with either but everything I have read about it was beneficial.

Dave

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 10:20AM
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bigdaddyj(Zone7)

I lasagna compost. My beds are covered all winter with lots of shredded leaves, compost and green clippings. I plant through that in Spring and add even more. Lots of organic mulch/compost is key.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 10:25AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

ÂIs it true that winter rye cleans the soil of destructive nematodes, or adds beneficial nematodes, can't remember which.....?

****

No, not true.

Ebon rye has been suggested as a cover crop that might help lower the population of pathogenic nematodes. But I have many friends, especially in CA, who have bad Root Knot Nematode problems and several in the past have done controlled experiments with Ebon rye and found little to no difference.

No, it doesn't encourage beneficial nematodes. Ppod, you don't have RKN problems where you live and you know I know where you live. LOL

About TMV. As Dave said the strains of tobacco grown in the US , and that's at least for the past 20 years or so, are TMV tolerant. But Turkish tobacco is not TMV tolerant.

Sudzy, in any case TMV is transmitted, or was, primarily by insects and these days any transmission is manual and occurs in large commercial greenhouses.

But growing in one spot every year is not going to predispose plants to TMV b'c it's not out there to worry about any more. CMV is and many folks confuse TMV with CMV b'c the two viruses can exhibit similar symptoms.

Growing in one spot can predispose to a build up of foliage pathogens, but I spoke to that in a post above in this thread.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 10:36AM
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formerly_creativeguy

I am forced by circumstance to use the same bed year after year. From a fertile soil perspective, a healthy dose of compost in early spring has kept my tomato yield very high year in and year out. However, on the down side... after the 2nd year of doing so, I had a big problem with bacterial speck. The following year, I learned about soil pathogens remaining in the soil over the winter. Very frustrating. Carolyn advised me in this forum at the time to mulch heavily, and take precautions to keep soil from coming in contact with the foliage. I have been extremely attentive to this for the past several growing seasons, and have been rewarded with a greatly reduced (or non-existant) incidence of disease. I guess what I'd say to you is that based on my own experience, you can certainly plant the same area year after year. The soil can truly be amended into a fantastic growing medium over the years. But you need to be mindful of the fact that disease can live in the soil for a lengthy amount of time once it has established itself- this is one of the reasons why many sources counsel crop rotation. I wish you good luck and a good crop.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 5:40PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

For those with just one bed, it may make sense to plant something else that's not in the tomato-potato-eggplant family, like beans, say every third or fourth year. I'd expect it would be harder for the pests to survive for a year and a half than for just a winter. Their nitrogen-fixing roots would help with your amendment program, too.

I have trellises in two beds and alternate tomatoes with cukes, melons, or squashes. So I don't have to knock down or move the trellises -- I just alternate the crops that grow on them.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 10:27PM
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sudzy(5b IL)

TMV hasn't been a problem in this country for many years as even the tobacco grown in this country is TMV resistant.
---
Sudzy, in any case TMV is transmitted, or was, primarily by insects and these days any transmission is manual and occurs in large commercial greenhouses.

Thanks for that info. Stupidly, I actually thought two of my tomatoes plants had that in early spring and culled them. sheesh. I still have lots to learn.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 2:44AM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

Thank you, Digdirt, for the information on your cover crops, turning the soil, compost, and mulch. I think I'll grow a greater variety of cover crops like you from now on. I do mulch thickly w/leaves, and sometimes add some used coffee grounds if the plants look like they need a little Nitrogen, plus add compost, sometimes unfinished in late fall.

Thanks, Carolyn, for your reply. I thought, perhaps mistakenly, that pathogenic nematodes were not limited to root-knot nematodes. I was of the impression that some forms of pathogenic nematodes lived in the soils around here.

**Ppod, you don't have RKN problems where you live and you know I know where you live. LOL**

....the coffee's brewing and the chocolate rasberry cake's in the oven, so come on over......

No, I don't have RKN problems unless they look like chipmonks; those I have lots of, the little rascals (who ate all my Austrian pea seeds meant for this fall's cover crops).

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 8:52PM
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denninmi(8a)

My main 110 x 100 garden spot has been continuously cultivated since the late 1940's. I have always planted tomatoes there, with generally good results.

However, this year, I broke new ground and started a couple of new areas, one about 20 x 50, and another a bit larger.

I have tomatoes in all of these spots. Know what, the ones in the original garden have LOTS of disease problems, various leaf spots. The ones in the new plots are nice and clean. I've been treating with a lot of fungicides, so I'll still get a crop off of the original plot, but I think I'll get a better crop from the new areas. I've got probably 250 plants all together, so it's not like I'll lack for tomatos no matter what happens.

I think what I'm going to take from this is that I need to rotate more. Lucky for me, I have a couple of acres and lots of lawn that I don't want to keep dumping money into anyway, what a waste of space, and more importantly resources, the typical American suburban lawn is. If more lawn must die next year so I have a fresh, uncontaminated spot to grow tomatoes, so be it.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 10:48PM
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sprouts_honor(5, southern shore of Erie)

nygardener makes a good point about pests. I usually till after the first frost and again in the spring to kill pests in the soil. This year, I planted in an area where I grew tomatoes last year, but wasn't as faithful about tilling and I notice a tomato fruitworm on that plant.

Jennifer

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 12:59PM
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cre8tivly_lee(5a)

Being new to gardening (3rd year), I successfully planted bush beans amidst my tomato plants, as well as barren zucchini on one corner and non-existent cucumbers on the opposite. I realize this might be overkill, especially in a very tiny 3X5 bed, but I am still learning. In addition, I have containers still producing tomatoes and pole beans. As I prepare for unruly weather conditions this fall, what should my primary focus be in order to maintain healthy soil and optimal crop production next year? Thank you in advance.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2014 at 9:21AM
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sheltieche

eh, how about this?

Here is a link that might be useful: back to Eden

    Bookmark   October 2, 2014 at 8:21PM
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