Soil + Compost = nutritious??

Southern California; clay which started out as hard as rock and now I can put a shovel into it with little trouble because I have been composting it for 20+ years. Compost which includes grass cuttings; Liquid Amber leaves; leftover kitchen veggie (including coffee grounds); an occasional half-bag of steer and artichoke plant trimmings and stalks.
I have photos of my tomatoes (large plants, many large fruits) and sunflowers (8' high with magnificent flowers!) from when I first started gardening there.
question: after all this time, using the same 8' X 10' plot growing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and zucchini, does the soil need other nutrients? I sometimes nourish the plants with Miracle Grow, but not frequently or regularly (I think it helps).
My tomato plants are smaller and the yield sparse. Zucchinis only occasionally produce - usually shrivel before getting any size to them.
Something needed?
Oh, and yes, I have been digging the compost into the soil - as well as applying it on top for weed control and moisture retention.
help?
thanks, de
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As long as you keep adding good compost the soil shouldn't be depleted.
HOWEVER
You should rotate your crops..maybe don't plant anything for a few years. Disease, insects, and nematodes specific to the crops you plant every year can build up in the soil and affect your plants.
My suggestion would be to plant a green manure crop there (alfalfa or buckwheat) and till in under for a couple of years. That'll do wonders for the dirt, and allow the bad critters to die off. Then go back and use it for veggies again. Or try flowers in that area..
Plant your garden in another area this coming year if you must. Perhaps make a small raised bed and fill it with topsoil until you can go back to the old area.
Either way, it sounds like the soil needs a good rest.
Hope this helps,

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Yes. I think that's exactly what must be happening - disease, etc. seems to exist, plus I have another area to use. I think flowers or clover or alfalfa is a great idea.
Next year I'll get the soil tested, just to see...
Thanks to all - and to all, Happy Holidays! de
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Richard Ellis wrote:

maybe the pH has slowly shifted or the years of harvesting have depleted a mineral?
Carl
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You should be able to get a soil testr for a very nominal fee through your cooperative extension service. Anything else is just guessing.
Richard Ellis wrote:

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Compost is a good soil conditioner, but does not provide much nutrition to the soil. I add in composted cow manure at the end of each growing season to restore whatever energy I take out in harvested plants.
Sherwin D.
Richard Ellis wrote:

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Time for a soil test... I'm suspicious of too much sodium (I lived in S. Cal 30 years ago, and the water was pretty saline!). I'm also suspicious that you might have had more sun on your garden plot 20 years ago than you do now.
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Yes, less sun, more tree. I wonder if morning sun, like 8:00am - 12pm is better than afternoon sun, 12pm - 4? I have a choice between two areas, west side of the tree or east. Now it's on the pm side.
thanks again! de
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I think there's the problem, right there... "full sun" (for veggies) is usually 6 hrs of direct sunlight per day.
As to AM or PM: Probably no real difference in your climate, unless you're trying to get a crop of warm season veggies in the winter (you'll want the afternoon sun then) or veggies happier with cooler climates in the summer (you'll want morning sun, afternoon shade).
Still probably worth a soil test... salinization of non-drip irrigated soils in S. Cal is a problem.
Kay
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I agree with the soil test. They are cheep, and will provide you with a lot of information that you can use as a baseline.
Nature does not "rest" the soil, so while "resting" the soil does not make much sense to me, crop rotation is a good idea, especially with Tomatoes and peppers. Put green beans in their place, or other legumes (peas are also good). Legumes will provide a natural source of nitrogen - especially if you till them back into the soil. Tomato, corn and squash are all heavy feeders.
Do not compost tomato plants, or till them back into your soil. Fungal disease can transfer from year to year, and may infect your compost pile too.
Keep composting - If you compost as much as you say you do, you should not need "Miracle Grow" or other additives. If you absolutely feel the need to fertilize - use a slow release like blood meal or fish emulsion.
Good Luck
Craig Cooper http://www.growersinfo.com
Kay Lancaster wrote:

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Thank you again for your responses. I have been composting all veggie garden plants for years, hence there's a good chance my tomatoes have been suffering from the same fungi year after year (some sort of dark fungus which made the leaves dry up and drop off), plus the darkening and ultimate rotting of the bottoms of the tomatoes.
How long will the leftover fungi persist once I've stopped composting the last crops of tomato plants? Don't those spores last a very long time?
Beans it will be (as my grand daughter says, "Cool Beans!"). (heh).
happy holidays! de
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Richard Ellis wrote:

In peppers, I THINK that type of rot can be a calcium deficiency. Inconsistent water/moisture too I think.
Carl
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Richard Ellis wrote:

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Carl brings up a good point too. Tomatoes rotting on the bottom is either a moisture or calcium issue. The spotty leaves - fungus.
I would hold on the tomatoes for at least two seasons.
Good luck - Merry Christmas
Craig http://www.growersinfo.com
Richard Ellis wrote:

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