Tomatoes and Crop Rotation

According to the book "Reader's Digest Organic Gardening for the 21st Century," tomatoes should not be part of your crop rotation scheme and should be left in the same bed year after year: "Tomatoes are narcissistic and do not like to rotate." That hit me as strange, as I thought tomatoes were fairly prone to soil-borne diseases and would definitely benefit from regular crop rotation. Any comments from the tomato gurus in the group?
-Fleemo
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Mine lived in the same part of the garden bed for 10 years. No problems.
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The advise not to rotate is completely opposite of most knowledge bases. My personal experience is that if you have the space to rotate then your garden will benefit. I too have grown tomatoes in the same soil for years but I do have a serious blight problem.
Have Fun
Jim

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In article snipped-for-privacy@austin.rr.com says...

The advise not to rotate defies common sense. What harm could come from rotating if you could? My parents grew in the same patch for over a decade and for the last few years suffered serious blight which kept getting worse. This year I got them several wildflower mixes and they did a fall planting of wildflower seeds in that spot. They moved the tomatoes to another area albeit smaller and will be cutting back production. I don't expect to get as many tomatoes from them later this year. I suggested they run the wildflowers for a couple of years before returning to that spot. I think the wildflowers will look spectacular too. Jpegs of that spot will be offered up in a few months. :-)
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On 17 Feb 2005 11:05:44 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote:

I rotate just about everything in the vegetable garden. Old tomato vines should be placed in the trash, never composted. In Ohio, tomatoes grow like weeds--anywhere and everywhere with little care. I recall tomatoes growing out of sidewalk cracks in the spring!
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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote:

and
count me amongst those who do not believe it. Besides blight as a soil-borne disease, consider the hundreds of grams of K you take out of the soil with each crop (1 tomato, 1 gram). If you put down the same compost everywhere every year, you may end up with the tomato patch low in K and high in, say, N. Rotation will prevent that.
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That doesn't pass the common sense test, in my opinion; especially considering that tomatoes are an annual, it makes sense that Nature and humans rotate.

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I am speculating, but it is possible that tomatoes, which aren't aboriginally annual, make persistent modifications to their rhizosphere in the form of complex root exudates which supercede any nutrient replenishment benefit due to rotation. It could be that the persistence is enough to provide an annual basal level of support (or protection) which is not renewed if a different crop is planted or perhaps the effect is compounded with each successive generation.
Perhaps someone in sci.bio.botany knows.
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I have four tomato plants growing in one pot. One fruited last month and the tomato is doing getting nice and bigger. It looks like it might have another 30 or 45 days left before it's ready to be pulled. The pot is a rather small pot, but I haven't had this much success with tomatoes planted in the sand/ground... <g> I do have a couple other tomatoes growing but they are nowhere as nice as the four that sit together in one small pot.
While one fruited and has ONE fairly good size tomato, the other plants flowered and some really small fruits set up. They seem to like the colder weather, versus hot weather. The vines seem to droop if they are placed in the direct sun during the day. I guess the temps are about 40 to 45 at night and 65 to 75 during the day right now. I had the small pot indoors in a windowed sun room for the longest time, before the plants became too big. They are growing like vines! And there are quite a few very small fruits set now. I'm guessing it takes about 2 to 3 months for a tomato to grow to full ripeness... does that sound right?
And if they are annual I shouldn't expect any more tomatoes until next year, right?
-- Jim Carlock Post replies to newsgroup.

I am speculating, but it is possible that tomatoes, which aren't aboriginally annual, make persistent modifications to their rhizosphere in the form of complex root exudates which supercede any nutrient replenishment benefit due to rotation. It could be that the persistence is enough to provide an annual basal level of support (or protection) which is not renewed if a different crop is planted or perhaps the effect is compounded with each successive generation.
Perhaps someone in sci.bio.botany knows.
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Tomatoes are perennials in frost-free climates. Like many other tropical perennials, they are grown as annuals in colder climates. Wild forms escape soil borne pathogens by genetic diversity, by inducing birds and other herbivores to eat their fruit and carry their digestion-resistant seeds elsewhere, and by "crawling" away from the problem. A tomato plant allowed to clamber and sprawl can move quite a distance over time by growing away from the root, rooting at many nodes.
Despite their great visible variety, doamesticated tomatoes are actually quite low in genetic diversity because all cultivars descend from a small number of wild plants. Breeders sometimes have to use wild strains to obtain resistance to new strains of pest.
On a home garden scale, crop rotation is somewhat useful to reduce the effects of soil borne pests and diseases, but since the gardener moves soil from one area to another on tools and otherwise, it's not perfect. Also, some pathogens, like the one that causes club root in brassicas, can persist without a host for a decade or more. While rotation does spread out the use of soil nutrients over crops that prefer different ratios, a home garden, even an organic one, is usually adequately or even over-fertilized. Crop rotation can also be used effectively to control persistent weeds.
Tomatoes are susceptible to a number of serious soil borne pathogens, especially nematodes, but many modern varieties have genetic resistance to this and other problems. Also note that soil borne diseases don't readily travel very far, so even in an area where a particular pest or disease is a problem, your garden may not be affected.
Since growing a garden is not really all that hard once you have a little experience, almost any kind of advice can be harmless, at least. This basic human activity is prone to innumerable handwaving ideas, and since almost anything works, people who try them usually succeed, and believe in them. In the absence of real testing, i.e., with controls, under various conditions of soil and weather, over several years, with accurate measurements, it's impossible to really find out if a scheme has any particular value.
I've been gardening more or less organically (I sometimes use a little fertilizer, mainly for transplants) for over thirty years. I live in a city, although years ago I had a small market garden in a rural area. My present garden uses intensive methods, and in an effort to save space while still letting everything get as much sun as possible, I grow a lot of things vertically, which reduces my ability to rotate. I've been using this garden for twelve years, and have no problems with soil borne pathogens, partly because I almost never buy transplants. (I brought club root into a previous garden with a box of six red cabbage plants and have learned my lesson!)
As for tomato expertise, I'm interested in unusual and old varieties and often grow twenty or more cultivars each year. This past year a new disease hit my area, some kind of bacterial rot, I believe. Some varieties were clobbered, some were lightly to moderately affected, and a few showed essentially complete resistance. I thought this was extremely cool, and my neighbors brought their friends over to see perfectly healthy tomato plants entwined with dying plants hung with unripe fruit rotting to slush on the vine.
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I was wondering about rooting a tomato... I've had this stem in a cup of water for about a week now and I don't see any roots growing yet, so I decided it's time to look this up.
And I found the following... This looks like some very interesting information... http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/recipes/carvertomato.html
-- Jim Carlock Post replies to newsgroup.
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Be patient. IME, tomatoes are as easy to root as geraniums or coleus (i.e. dead easy). If you're keeping that cup of water on your windowsill, note that this time of year it may be too cold there for tropical plants like tomatoes to grow much, so it will take longer than if you can keep the cuttings at summer temps.

This is an extremely cool document. (How to Grow the Tomato and 115 Ways to Prepare it for the Table by George Washington Carver, 2nd edition 1936)
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snipped-for-privacy@cs.toronto.no-uce.edu wrote:

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I will beg to disagree on fertilization. I have Sahara sandy soil in Michigan which is poor and needs to be replenished most years and certainly for the first 3-4 years. 1000lb of wood chips, composted, may have 1/4lb of potassium. But at 1gr per tomato, we are talking about taking one pound away each year. The USDA specifies your daily dose of K as three grams, and if you get it mostly out of the garden, we are talking about 3.5 lbs per year. We have had threads in the past about heavily depleted garden soil, and casual composting of dead leaves and clippings will simply not replenish that. You are talking about manuring each year, basically.
Depletion by herbivory in the garden, coupled with nutrient loss through the sand, is a major effect for some of us. And the nutrient profiles of the crops really are very different.
one other advantage of rotation is the possibility of having succession crops. Besides peas leaving nitrogen for cabbage, you also have a chance of not manuring this year, and plant carrots or parsnips. If you have clay, you also have succession crops based on the crop ability to break soil, followed by crops with weaker root systems.
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simy1 wrote:

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So there's a vegetable crop that thrives in clay soil? I should find out what it is!
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

fava beans. cabbage prefers it heavier than normal. some of the water thirsty veggies, like cardoon or fennel (possibly celery, though I don't know). radicchio and other chicories, as well as dandelion. peas prefer it heavier. potatoes may come out misshapen, but they will do well in clay soil. herbs won't mind the clay unless it is waterlogged. I think there are more veggies that prefer heavy soil than there are that prefer sandy soil.
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No rotation, diseases and pests will eat your next tomato plant more efficiently. Of course if you use large quantities of fungicides and pesticides you'll manage to defeat that all, but what you will get is chemical cocktail in red ball. Of course any monoculture isn't recomended cause of soil exhaustion of specific nutrients in soil. Different species use different nutrients, or in diferent forms, quantities, depth in soil. And many more...

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