Tomato problem

This was the worst year I've ever had growing tomatoes. By the middle of August most of the plants had died. I'm assuming it was some type of blight that might have gotten them as well as several other things. I know that I should rotate where in the garden I raise tomatoes but am wondering if anyone does anything special to their gardens over the winter time? Mine is already cleaned out and tilled. The only thing I tend to do over the winter is put leaves on it and then till them under in the spring.
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As I mentioned in an earlier post, try rotating your tomatoe patch to other locations in case there is something residual in the soil. Your plants could have been attacked by either insects or some fungacide. I add fertilizer, mulch, and sand to amend my soil over the winter. Keeping your plants properly watered helps a lot. You should try and determine why the plants died, like taking samples of plant to some local experts for analysis. Even the manner in which they died can give a clue to the cause. It would probably be better if you first composted your leaves and then put them into the soil. They may not be fully broken down by spring, and could have a negative effect on your plants, like draw nitrogen from them. I use last year's compost for the current fall season. If you don't want to compost, at least turn your leaves into the soil this fall, so they will break down a little faster for next year.
Sherwin D.
rile wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (rile) wrote:

I had the same problem... and I suspect it was all the rain.
I recently purchased an "old" sweet 100's that was grown in a greenhouse at a local nursery and was rather large, but unhappy being in a 4" pot for several months! <lol> (It was a spring leftover)
it has since had a growth explosion in my main garden bed after I pulled up all the other vines. It looks very happy and is producing....
Since this one survived the summer being grown indoors and we had an unusually high summer rainfall, that may very well have been it!
K.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (rile) wrote in message

1) Definitely leave the leaves on top, so that they separate the plant from the soil. Tomatoes also like being mulched, so the leaves do double duty. I put them in the tomato patch just before I plant, late May (until then, the tomato patch is clear). You should have leaf mulch throughout the season. You can also use wood chips as mulch.
2) Do not ever water from overhead. Place the hose on the ground or use drip. Do not use sprinklers. Leave some room so that different tomato plants don't touch. If they are caged, they will indeed not touch with 8 inches between each cage. I plant some chicory in the gaps (it is a winter green) so the space is not wasted. Lettuce or other shade tolerant greens would do well, too.
3) Definitely rotate the tomato patch around. That means away from patches where peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants were grown recently. Nightshade is also a carrier, and a weed around here, so kill it if you have it. Do not let the plant touch the ground, either stake or fasten to cage as soon as the plant is in. Collect dead plants and either discard or mow them into the lawn very far from the garden.
4) It will help to give the tomatoes some manure, so that you have stronger plants which can resist infection better. I find that manure makes beatiful plants that stay healthy through the season and make better tasting tomatoes, but tend to fruit later. No manure will produce earlier fruits and plants that catch the blight more readily. You can put manure in the garden now, but keep the leaves in a place where they don't get too wet so they will mulch longer next season.
I also give the tomatoes a handful of wood ash per plant (Ca, K, micros, and better taste), which I usually spread over the mulch at planting time. This said, this was a poor year for tomatoes, at least around here, a cold, relatively gray summer. If it rains too much, tomatoes will still catch blight. The peppers were also mediocre. There is nothing you can do, it's the breaks. The many greens I grow were fine.
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Hi simyl, I agree with almost everything you said in this posting, except for the question of what to do with the leaves. I'm not sure about this, but just mixing uncomposted leaves into the soil to decompose may remove more nutrients than you are adding. I would think the best approach is to put her leaves into a compost pile in fall, and use the resulting composted material the following spring when planting, or use it as a protective layer around the plants to keep in moisture and discourage weeds. As I mentioned in a previous posting, I make my compost the previous year to amend the soil in fall. Storing leaves in a dry place makes no sense and is probably a pain in the neck. Without the heat and weight of a pile of leaves and green matter, it would take a long time to compost dry leaves, if you just pile them onto the garden. Digging them in the soil might deplete their effect, and would also take a much longer time for them to break down. I do not understand what you are trying to say in your item #1.
Sherwin Dubren
simy1 wrote:

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That is what I said, see below. Put the leaves on top of the soil.

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simy1 wrote:

You again miss the whole point. Putting the leaves on top of the soil is not the same as putting them into a mulch pile!

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