Kosh III
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Re-using bed for tomatoes

I have a small (3x4) raised bed that I grew 4 lettuce and 4 tomatoes in last year. I know it's suggested that there be different things each year but I need to use this bed again as I do not have another spot.
Is there anything I should do to prepare the bed? More compost? other additives? I (again) wish to use this bed early in the season for lettuce, then after harvesting them to put in the tomatoes.
Organic only.
TIA

PaulF
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Re: Re-using bed for tomatoes

For many years I grew tomatoes in raised beds. I did add compost to the beds every year. A soil test was done every third year just to get a handle on the soil health. With such a small area that may not be needed. A very important practice is to clean off all plant material in the fall every year to reduce pathogens and pests. Also a nice thick layer of mulch to keep soil from splashing up on tomato plants helps. Perhaps growing lettuce and tomatoes at the same time would work and as soon as the lettuce is gone put down a newspaper layer topped by straw for mulch.

I loved my raised beds for growing tomatoes. Your small area should be fairly easy to work with. Rotation is nice but not necessary with good sanitation, watering only at soil level and proper mulching.
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applestar
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Re: Re-using bed for tomatoes

I think adding extra compost will definitely help as will mulching and generally trying to keep them healthy.

I try to start spraying with milk solution alternating weeks with diluted AACT before humid/muggy season starts as fungal disease preventive. Willow tea is also supposed to help boost their immunity and I'm going to be trying that this year from seedling stage.
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Kosh III
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Re: Re-using bed for tomatoes

Marlingarden

Yes! It was quite healthy; I was getting plenty of plants as late as November when we got the first hard freeze.

Thanks to all for the replies. I do plan to add compost and mulch it with pine needle mulch.

Vanisle_BC
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Re: Re-using bed for tomatoes

I grew my tomatoes in the same bed for many consecutive years with no problems (and very little TLC). I did have late blight one year but after putting rain-covers on the bed - and watering at ground level only - that did not recur. I have also interplanted with lettuce & cabbage while the tomatoes were still young, with good results.
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mauser
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Re: Re-using bed for tomatoes

I try not to grow nightshades in the same bed more than two years in a row.

Vanisle_BC
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Re: Re-using bed for tomatoes

For sure crop rotation is a very worthwhile & advisable precaution, long proven in hundreds of years of horticulture. But I just want to reassure Kosh that, according to my own shorter experience :), if you need to do tomatoes twice in the same bed it most likely won't cause a problem.
I think the world is full of incredible abuses of power at the moment and terrifying injustices, but there seems to be so much slack energy going into what I think is much smaller stuff. Andrew O'Hagen

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lakngulf
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Re: Re-using bed for tomatoes

I have been about 50/50 with reusing same container/soil for tomatoes. I do have hot, humid conditions that exaggerate soil bourne issues. Rotation is best, but I do not have that much space for true rotation. This year I have emptied containers into one area of the garden (will grow corn, squash and pepper in that spot) and I am refilling the containers.

Also, I will plant tomatoes in spots from last year. If the plant thrives and does well, great. If not I pull it up and plant corn or okra in the spot.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Re-using bed for tomatoes

I grew tomatoes in the same spot year after year for a long time, because it was the only full sun spot I had. They did fine. But definitely you always need to keep replenishing your soil to make up for what the plants take from it. I put down compost spring, mid-summer, and fall and in the meantime keep the soil well mulched and keep adding to the mulch as it breaks down and disappears. The mulch also helps feed the soil as well as conserving moisture and helping prevent disease (by preventing contact between the dirt and your plants). I use green plus brown mulch (i.e. mix/layers of fall leaves and grass clippings and/or straw and pulled weeds), which is a lot like just composting in pace. That way the mulch, like compost, is a pretty complete soil additive and breaks down well.
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imafan26
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Re: Re-using bed for tomatoes

Ideally it is best to rotate crops by families on a 4 year rotation. So, having 4 beds. However, the reality is that most of us don't have that kind of space. Sometimes things grow best in one spot over another. Even the commercial growers monocrop the same soil year after year. That is also why they spend so much on pest control because growing the same crop year after year keeps pests and disease around.

If you had no issues you can grow tomatoes in the same place for years.

I did have an issue with tomato yellow curl virus. I think the seed was infected. Since the disease is spread by whiteflies moving the tomatoes over a few feet would not have made much of a difference so I did not grow tomatoes for three years to make sure it would not spread. There are very few resistant cultivars and they did not taste that good. Whiteflies are a cyclical problem and get bad every couple of years.

It is always a good idea to make sure you add the organic matter and fertilizer to get the healthiest plants. I grow most of my tomatoes in pots and save the space in my small garden for plants that can take closer spacing. I take the potting soil out and use it in the yard or have it sterilized and remix it. I use MG potting soil for the tomatoes in pots.

You are rotating with lettuce so it does get a break, but it would be better if you had multiple beds and and rotate from bed to bed. I you rotate, you want to do it with another family of plants so you would not rotate tomatoes with peppers or eggplant. Ideally you would use a plant family with different attributes like ones that don't share the same pests or a high feeder with low feeders. I would also test the soil every three or four years just to check on the balance of fertility especially if you are doing in ground planting and adjust your fertilizer and manure as required.

All my plots are very high or extreme in calcium phos, potassium. Two are alkaline pH 7.4 and 7.8 the other is very high in Nitrogen (based on the size of the plants), the most extreme in phosphorus >2000 ppm, and slightly acidic at ph 6.4.
I have changed my fertilizer. I don't add any more chicken manure anywhere ( it would raise the pH another half point) The compost tested at a pH of 7.8 so I don't ever need to lime anything. If I use manure, I use composted steer manure. I have done three tests and the phosphorus requirement for the plants is 37 ppm; the lowest the phos has gotten in one plot only was 250, the other plots are virtually unchanged. So, I don't need to add phosphorus for years except to the potted plants. All I need is sulfur to bring down the alkaline pH and nitrogen. I still tend to over use the nitrogen so
I rotate corn which is a high nitrogen feeder with Asian greens which I use as a scavenger crop. I only add compost between the two and the cabbages will scavenge the leftover nitrogen from the corn.

I sometimes rotate some of the tomato pots with beans and peas. That is what I am doing now. One of my three pots has beans and peas and two have tomatoes.

I plant a variety of plants and I plant nectar and pollen plants to attract pollinators and beneficial insects and I don't plant a lot of any one plant so that helps with insect problems so I don't have to use much in the way of insect control. I do have to use a lot of slug bait because I don't have toads or chickens and I have a wet yard. I do use fungicides in humid weather. I scout plants regularly and try to take care of problems early and some problems are seasonal so I know to watch out for those.
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jal_ut
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Re: Re-using bed for tomatoes

Plant rotation is a good practice. However, not necessary. Yes, you can replant the same things in that bed again. Have fun!
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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