User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28242
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Rotating -- what should follow tomatoes?

Yeah, I'm planning my NEXT year's garden. :lol:
Lorax mentioned in another post that tomatoes would do well following corn or beans. What should follow tomatoes next year?

Also @Lorax -- when you say follow, do you mean immediately after? What did you call it? cycles? (or do you succession plant same crop for a season?) In that case, what would be best to follow tomatoes for winter covercrop?

Who else practices crop rotation? I put this topic here in the Tomato Growing forum because my question centers around tomatoes, but it would also be applicable topic in Organic Gardening/Organic Pest & Disease Control or Permaculture, and some folks who don't garden organically rotate crops too :wink:

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28242
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

FWIW -- I've tried different rotations. I have 3 different charts that I refer to every year :lol: Not sure that I'm ready to ink in the penciled rotation programs, so I thought I'd ask for people's personal experience. :wink:

I have to say that this year, I'm getting the BEST growing tomatoes ever from a location that I earmarked last year because in this location, a giant white-flowered, black berried nightshade (I think it was Solanum americanum) swallowed up a 5 foot tall Swamp Azalea (Rhododendron viscosum). I thought if a wild Solanum did so well, then so should a domesticated variety. This is also where I USED to have the thorniest wild blackberry patch. Soil is unbelievably solid clay that was sheet mulched in the fall.

Not necessarily on topic but I also decided that since the same nightshade was doing so well under the apple tree, I will try growing hot peppers just beyond it's drip line. THEY are also growing very well.

I really think that apple family and solanum family may be good guild members (Permaculture concept).

User avatar
stella1751
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1494
Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:40 am
Location: Wyoming

My rotation is legumes, solanaceae, and cucurbits. I used to follow (or precede?) cucurbits with brassicas until the Year of the Brussel Sprouts, when a thousand white butterflies descended on my crop, scattering green worms in their wake. A friend told me Colorado's brassicas harvest must have left many of them homeless and bereft. Seriously, they came in clouds of fluttering white.

I don't grow umbelliffers or mescluns; I probably should, but they don't excite me.

I know legumes must precede solanaceae, but I can't remember what is supposed to follow, having eliminated brassicas way back when. I did find this great link to what is called [url=https://www.gardeningtipsnideas.com/2007/03/crop_rotation_for_successfully_growing_vegetables.html]the six-year rotation.[/url] Maybe your having started this thread will compel me to try something new :roll:
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

User avatar
lorax
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1316
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:48 pm
Location: Ecuador, USDA Zone 13, at 10,000' of altitude

Legumes/Corn --> Solanums --> Curcubits, especially zucchinis --> Repeat. I sometimes also add a lettuce or basil intercrop between Curcubits and Legumes/Corn.

And I do plant in cycles, rather than seasons, so that the garden is in pretty much continuous growth of some sort. The "rest" period comes while I wait for direct-sowed seed to sprout. However, I'm finding that the indeterminate tomatoes seem to want to be perennials - I'll have to wait for them to slow down before I'll be happy about uprooting them.

In the companions, I rotate in this order, starting with Hot peppers to accompany the Legumes/Corn, --> Carrots/Beets/Turnips to accompany tomatoes, --> Marigolds and Calendula with Curcubits. If I intercrop lettuce in the cycle, it's usually accompanied by onions or chard.

I should be clear that legumes and corn are always planted together, not as two separate cycles.

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:40 pm
Location: ohio

Gee, I never thought about rotating crops for specific benefits. What I mean is that I've always just assumed that you don't plant the same family crop in the same location from one year to another. But, specifically choosing the family crops that precede/proceed each other takes the rotation theory to a whole other level.
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5478
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

I learned in school that corn is a stripper crop, it strips all then nitrogen out of the soil. I would plant beans or any legume after corn and I would use Legume Seed Inoculant.

https://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/crops/00305.html

I don't recall that tomatoes are a heavy feeder so it would probably be ok to plant corn after tomatoes.

User avatar
lorax
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1316
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:48 pm
Location: Ecuador, USDA Zone 13, at 10,000' of altitude

That's why I plant corn and legumes like beans together, Gary. This way the soil is stripped of some N by the corn, but the legumes are recontributing due to their happy cooperation with soil microbes, leaving just enough N to encourage the tomatoes to flourish, and more PK to make them flower and set fruit heavily. Planting corn after tomatoes generally produces weaker corn with smaller ears, because tomatoes are hungry on the PK and don't give anything much back to the soil. However, planting Curcubits after tomatoes helps to replenish the PK value in time for the corn/beans combo again. :()

If you go in the opposite direction, you'll end up spending way more on fertilizer than is strictly necessary. :shock: I use seaweed emulsion about once a month during the corn/beans cycle, at planting and first fruit set during the tomato cycle, every other week during the Curcubits cycle, and not at all if I do a lettuce cycle.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

We have people responding here from lots of different climates! I keep my tomato plants growing until first frost or just a bit before if I'm watching the weather reports and know it's coming. That's pretty limiting for planting anything after them.

I'm planning to plant lettuce and spinach around them for a fall crop as soon as I get home from the conference I'm at. The spinach may last a little longer than the tomatoes.

So my rotation would be broccoli, plant the tomatoes behind them, then pull the broccoli when it's done and the tomato plants are getting big, then lettuce/spinach around the edges and in the spaces where the broccoli used to be. Fall broccoli will go in the spots where the spring lettuce/spinach used to be, because the tomato plants now big would crowd it too much.

If I had more land, I'd think about doing some kind of winter cover crop like you were talking about in a different thread, but with just my beds, I just mulch them well for winter.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

wolfie
Senior Member
Posts: 249
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 4:45 pm
Location: Chester, VA

do you then move where you put your tomatoes next season so they are not in the same area or does the rotation you talk about in the fall allow you to put your toms in the same bed every year?
Shan -
Who is learning to garden and loving every minute of it!

User avatar
lorax
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1316
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:48 pm
Location: Ecuador, USDA Zone 13, at 10,000' of altitude

Well, I have no winter, so I can cycle the crops pretty much constantly. My tomatoes reoccur in the same bed every 12-18 months, depending on how long the other crops that I grow in the rotation take to fruit and ripen. Corn/beans have been particularly slow this year, which makes up for the extreme durability of the inteterminate toms, and means that my rotation this year will likely result in a 2-year period between tomatoes being in the same spot.

Dixana
Greener Thumb
Posts: 727
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:58 pm
Location: zone 4

I don't know if this was what exactly AS was referring to, but I've read you should rotate where your plants are planted every 1-2 years to help prevent disease from spreading to newly planted. Many diseases live in the soil and return to infect plants, but many diseases don't affect all types of plants.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
-Gandhi

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2179
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:06 pm
Location: North Texas

lorax,

I would think where you live, the Incas would have perfected the concept of crop rotation in order to maximize food production year round. They couldn't run to Home Depot for some fertilizer to enhance the nutritional value of their soil. They probably did incorporate some available nutrients like night soil and animal waste and organics, but I feel they also would have achieved a natural balance between crops which withdrew nutrients and those which replenished nutrients.

If you are growing crops on the same land the Incas used, are you trying to follow their patterns in any way? I do understand the crops will have changed due to personal taste, requiring a slightly different approach. I think the Incas only grew a few basic crops like corn or maize, pumpkins or cucurbits, yarrow, simple grains, and I don't think they grew legumes. It seems they grew crops which were nutrient hogs, but they somehow made it work.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

User avatar
lorax
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1316
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:48 pm
Location: Ecuador, USDA Zone 13, at 10,000' of altitude

Actually, the crop rotation I'm using is nearly identical to what the Inca did, Ted, and yes, they definitely did grow legumes! (There are storage jars in our museums full of dried beans, and South America is a center of legume diversity.) The fertilizers used then were composted animal waste, seaweed, decomposed night soil, and volcanic ash. Apart from the night soil, that's also exactly what I use, and at the same points in the rotation that they did. A good friend of mine is one of the Salasaka people's oral historians, and I picked his brains but good before I started planting.

Part of what makes it work, Ted, especially here in the old Royal Gardens, is that we have an active volcano right on the doorstep. The ash that falls in minute quantities every day is the best fertilizer boost a garden can get - basically, Ma Nature replenishes my garden while I sleep. The oral tradition speaks of Mama Tunguraha being nearly always erupting for one reason or another.

The only major difference between my crops and the true traditionals is that I do a carrot/turnip/beet companion for my tomatoes instead of an Ullcu or Mashua companion (tuberous Oxalis).

The bigtime traditional fallow-field intercrop that I don't use, because mine is a kitchen garden rather than a large production, is the Quinoa Fallow Year, which is typically done every 5 full rotation cycles. Quinoa grows best in exhausted soils, and after the harvest of the seeds, the plants are burned and tilled back in, replenishing the soils, and the cycle starts again with corn and legumes.

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2179
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:06 pm
Location: North Texas

I'm not sure volcanoes around the earth emit the same air born material. it would seem to depend on the level in the earths mantel from which the material originated. I'm curious if volcanic activity globally is beneficial to vegetative growth after time.

What beneficial nutrients are deposited from the volcano near you. What can be purchased at the local garden supply to supply the same benefits for those who don't live near a volcano?

I remember when Mt. Saint Helens erupted a huge amount of ash was spread over a wide area. It was considered a disaster at the time, but possibly could be a benefit to farmers today who have incorporated it into their soil. Is that statement accurate?

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

User avatar
lorax
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1316
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:48 pm
Location: Ecuador, USDA Zone 13, at 10,000' of altitude

OK, let's see.... I'm absolutely certain that volcanoes around the earth don't emit the same kind of material in their ash. The Andesitic-Dacitic stratovolcanoes of the Andes, however, are notorious for putting out a kind of highly refined, slightly sulfurious potash with high phosphorus and trace minerals, which is great for plants. Globally, I'd suspect that volcanic activity is most likely beneficial for native plants in the areas of eruption - they've adapted to deal with what the volcano puts out.

Tungurahua's ash is typically high in Potassium and Phosphorus, medium Carbon content, with a low content of Sulfur, and trace minerals ranging from Sodium to Gold to Cobalt, although the radioactivity of Tungurahua ash is almost nil. If you were trying to simulate this by purchasing at the garden store, you'd need a really low N to medium PK, something like 1-10-15 to simulate the base, then throw in 2 or so of activated charcoal. I have no idea where you'd source the trace metals. Then you'd have to micropulverize it and apply it in dust form at about 1/4 to 1/2 gram daily, evenly across your entire planting, to simulate how it falls naturally.

The Mt. St. Helens eruption differed greatly from the eruptions of Tungurahua, Sangay, and Reventador (Ecuador's three most active volcanoes, historically). St. Helens was a cataclysmic explosive eruption accompanied by crater-wall collapse, which ejected truly massive quantities of ash and debris into the atmosphere - heck, ash even fell on me up in northern Alberta. The Ecuadorean volcanoes mentioned are in constant, slow eruption with minor secondary ejecta and little change to crater morphology, which means that smaller quantities of ash and almost no debris are emitted into the atmosphere constantly.

There's a big difference between getting 2 lbs of ash distributed over your garden or field in the period of about 10 years, and getting 2 lbs of it all at once - the same concept in traditional fertilizers is the difference between helping the plant grow and burning it. In the short term, the St. Helens eruption killed plant growth, but in the long term the farmers who incorporated all that ash are likely seeing the benefits in their soils. It would depend on what the content of that ash was....

I'd be really interested to see an ash analysis, actually, since St. Helens is a mixed-type stratovolcano (the basal strata are very different, and the volcano produces all three of Basalt, Andesite, and Dacite in its constructive events.) I'd expect that the ash of St. Helens also contained a great deal of pulverised silicates, which aren't so great for anything but cycads and horsetail.

User avatar
Ozark Lady
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1862
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:28 pm
Location: NW Arkansas, USA zone 7A elevation 1561 feet

I am struggling with crop rotation.

I have been taught, oh you have to rotate this and that.

And then I look around me... Why is it the same weeds pop up in the same areas every year? Don't they know about rotation? Why are they bigger and healthier every year, I know they are, because I fight them more every year. But this area is always this, and it is an annual, it reseeded. Aha, a seed blew in, and there is something new growing in with them...

So, I question the whole concept of rotating.
Weed grows, weed seeds, then whole plant dies and is returned to the soil, a few seeds blow away or are carried away by animals. But next year, the plant grows there again. The former plant nourished the new one.

So, I have a bed that is...nature. It is always tomatoes and peppers, and when the plants die, they are buried in that bed, and just hay thrown over the top of them, sooner or later they will break down and return the nutrients to the soil, in the meantime, I am adding back, leaves, hay, manure etc. In nature that weed patch would get these, from animals grazing and from trees dropping leaves. Drought took a toll on my garden this year, but the peppers in my experimental bed, which by the way, is in the tree drip line of a black walnut, is doing okay. Not great, but there are blooms and small tomatoes on the plants there, and the peppers there are larger than in other areas. And the best tomatoes in containers are the containers closest to that bed... any connection? I don't know... this is an experiment. Remember I do sheet compost, and that is what I do in this bed. Did I mention, I have had diseased tomatoes in the rotated beds, never in my permanent night shade bed?
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

User avatar
stella1751
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1494
Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:40 am
Location: Wyoming

Ozark Lady, I learned to rotate to keep disease and pests at bay and because different families have different nutritional needs. The diseases that over-winter stay in the bed; the pests lay their over-wintering eggs in the bed.

Tomatoes are especially heavy feeders, so I never grow them until after I have grown a legume, which adds to the soil instead of taking away. There's a good reason for following tomatoes with cucurbits or brassicas. They have different nutritional needs; someone mentioned PK earlier, so that might be it. They finish sucking the last of the goodies from the soil; legumes (along with regular compost additions), replenish all the goodies, prepping the bed for tomatoes.

So, by rotating, you minimize your chances of having the same diseases, over and over, and fighting the same bugs, over and over, while maximizing your chances of the plants having everything they need.

For me, it's all about the tomatoes and the peppers. Everything else must bow to these kings of the garden :lol:
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28242
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Thanks for all the input. They helped me to consolidate ideas about crop rotation. I posted a diagram I'm working on in [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=156543#156543]this thread[/url]. :D

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2179
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:06 pm
Location: North Texas

Like Ozark lady, I've always looked at crop rotation, for the reasons usually given; as slightly over stated. While I agree with the concept, it isn't always practical in small gardens.

I've known farmers who grew the same crop on the same land, year, after year, after year; successfully. I have always believed the practice simply requires good stewardship of the soil. If a particular crop deletes certain minerals, then replace the minerals before the next crop is planted. Don't use chemicals on the soil which disrupt the microbial balance. You need to build the soil over the years.

I've constructed a number of raised beds and have the ability to rotate crops between beds, but I have simply learned that some beds grow tomatoes or peppers, or squash better than other beds.

I probably come closer to rotating the soil by rebuilding it yearly than rotating the crops yearly.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Likewise... I really only have one spot that a) is sunny enough to grow tomatoes and b) isn't full of perennials. So that's where the tomatoes go every year. Probably not best, but it works for me, but I am constantly adding organic stuff to the soil there, in the form of compost and mulch.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
stella1751
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1494
Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:40 am
Location: Wyoming

There are some solid arguments against rotation in here, and I'm starting to wonder if its benefits are over-rated. It would definitely be simpler not to rotate. Each time I set up a new trellis, I know I will have to move it by the end of the season, which is a drag. Knowing I have to rotate influences the sturdiness of each trellis, too. If I have to dismantle it anyway, why should I take my time over its construction?

Additionally, there are some crops I'd rather not grow in my front garden. I would think, I'm not certain, though, that my pumpkins and watermelons will prove garden-lifter magnets, and my two old dogs sleep through many a slow-passing car these days.

Furthermore, my very best tomato bed, the one in which I can grow the most extraordinary peppers and tomatoes, has only been used twice now for its best crops. There's something definitely odd about that bed. That's the bed that made me decide I needed to test my soil. There's nothing I can't grow there, so it always seems a waste to squander it on cucurbits and legumes.

I wouldn't be restricted on what I could plant in my small garden, either. It's not that I don't like cucurbits and legumes; it's that I like solanaceum better. Even though I'm getting a huge kick out of my watermelon and pumpkins this year, it would be nice if I could ditch cucumbers and squash forever. I like peas, but I really don't like eating beans. More importantly, I like corn, but I haven't grown it in years. It doesn't really fit in my rotation. Even grown with beans, growing corn is like taking nitrogen right out of the mouths of my tomato plants :(

As for the diseases, by using municipal compost last year, I actually incorporated (apparently) first blight and bacterial speck into all my beds, so I've been struggling with the issue of tomato-rotation, anyway. Disease? Got it anyway, despite rotation.

As for pests, we don't get that many up here, not like I hear everyone else reporting; they have to be able to over-winter in below-zero temperatues, which many of them can't handle. There was talk last year that this would be a killer grasshopper year, but I've seen killer grasshopper years in the past, years when all you had to do was walk across the yard to raise a cloud, and we're not having one of those years here, probably because of the frigid October we had last year.

I'd like to hear more from people who don't rotate. If I didn't have to rotate next year, I know just what I would put in each bed, and I'd definitely put in more tomatoes and peppers than I do now. Oh. I'd grow corn, too!
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

crobi13
Senior Member
Posts: 208
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: Boston Zone 6

I have a question, what is considered rotation? Is it just not putting the same crop in the exact same place? Is it moving the crop a few feet away? :roll:
Charlette
Wife, Mother, Gardner, Cook, Quilter, Banker and Tupperware Lady

User avatar
lorax
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1316
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:48 pm
Location: Ecuador, USDA Zone 13, at 10,000' of altitude

I consider it to mean that each cycle, the same crop isn't in the exact same place. I move mine about 10 feet each rotation, but I have a home garden. My friends with large farms (several hectares) rotate 1 ha at a time, and my friends with very large farms (several sections) rotate by quarter-sections.

It's probably more practical for them than it is for me, but I have real problems with both nematodes and wireworm, and it simply isn't feasable for me to keep my tomatoes in one place and my root crops in another. Since I refuse to nuke my soils, it means I need to rotate.

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

I have a somewhat smaller garden as well and rotation is not so feasible for me. Though I guess I could rotate to a certain extent. But my main planting which are tomatoes and potatoes are scattered about on the majority of my garden. Some here, a bigger mass there, some more over there. So what does one do about that. I have planned out a new section for my main mator crop next year. But even that has 3-4 volunteers tomatoes growing there right now. So I will have to deal with what comes of it.

Trying not to keep all my plants together as in row cropping though it happens and don't tell me it doesn't. :P It is even harder to rotate since most things are scattered about.

I'm am still new to the rotation but not a virgin. I am not to the point where I want, or feel like I should attempt, a planned out rotation schedule. I used to have smaller gardens but now am branching out into the unknown and there is so much unknown that it really becomes overwhelming.

And than again does it really matter. I have tomatoes in 4 different spots same with potatoes in 2 different spots and both in buckets as well. All of the above have been afflicted by the same disease and bugs and everything else. So does it really do any good? Both Tom and spuds are even separated in different beds on separate sides of the yard. One of the beds being brand new this spring. Still all afflictions have hurt each the same. So you can't say that rotating would have stopped my disease.

Not saying that rotating may not work just in my smaller scheme of things it doesn't seem to matter so much.

But as Ted said I do add back to my soil every year and hopefully that will be enough to combat any certain crop needs.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28242
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I'm working under the premise that rotating will help to build healthier soil biology -- with good microbes AND arthropods balancing the bad. After that, *perhaps* rotating will not be needed and crops could be inter-"grown" in a more open and not so limited manner (If the way I'm planting them right now can be called "limited" :roll: :lol:).

My ultimate goal is to let most crops that can, self-sow since, in nature, plants form colonies in the same spot. I think tomatoes and cucurbits fall within that category. :P I already have lettuce self seeding. Lettuce uses wind to scatter seeds. Tomatoes are animal scattered, so that would be my job, leaving me with some control over where they're to grow.

Over the next few years, I want to build up a preferred selection of OP/HL varieties for each crop, and save seeds for planting or allow them to mature for self-sowing. Concurrent project would be getting them to adapt to the growing conditions in my own garden.

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

Nice Apple I'm right there with you in the passenger seat on this one. I feel the same way to some extent. Actually I feel the same way all the way but will I have time to research and actually do it with 3 kids and all that. :lol: :wink:

I can't wait to see all the volunteers plants I have to deal with soon and than again next year. I have been purposely letting things go to seed and dropping fruits to see what comes of it.

Just give me some time it will all come, I do have a new garden you know.

The future is bright. :flower:



Return to “TOMATO FORUM”