The Q&A Archives: Soil Care for Singe-Crop Garden

Question: I have a garden 15ft by 15ft where for the last 3 years I've grown only tomatoes. I have been using a commercial soluble fertilzer labeled for tomatoes, and get good yields every year. Is there any thing else that I should add to the soil since the crops haven't been rotated, or should I just keep going as I have been? Thanks

Answer: It is usually a good idea to run some basic soil tests to find out what your soil may (or may not) be lacking and add specific amendments accordingly. Your County Extension can help you with the basic soil tests and interpreting the results.

Tomatoes, like most vegetable crops, appreciate a rich soil high in organic matter. To maintain organic matter, make regular additions of compost, old rotted leaves, well aged stable manure with bedding, grass clippings, etc. Using an organic mulch can also help since it feeds the soil as it breaks down. Both of these techniques also help maintain even soil moisture, which is also important for healthy plants.

The lack of rotation is potentially risky in that it can lead to a build up of pests and disease organisms common to tomatoes, as well as exhausting the soil nutrients and organic matter. Feeding the soil on a regular basis thus becomes that much more important; three to five years is the suggested rotation on tomatoes and their relatives such as potatoes, peppers and eggplants. Hope this helps!

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