Tomato Crop Rotation Benefits

tomato crop rotation

The tomato plant is especially susceptible to diseases caused from harmful bacteria that like to find shelter in your soil. Luckily, tomato crop rotation can be an effective method to prevent many of the most common ailments that afflict these plants. In fact, regular crop rotation is one of the best deterrents to infection.

Tomato crop rotation consists of rotating the plants in your garden from one season to the next. This means planting something different in the patch where you had planted tomatoes the season before.

Crop rotation works because it removes the susceptible plants from the portion of the garden where the offending microbes or bacteria may be present. When these plants are replaced with a different family of plant that is not susceptible to these afflictions, the soil is able to regenerate and the diseases die out during the season. Tomatoes are a part of the nightshade family, which includes plants like potatoes, red and green bell peppers, eggplant, and chili and paprika peppers. A home gardener would not want to rotate tomatoes with these plants, as they are susceptible to the same diseases. Therefore, rotating these plants would only perpetuate the problem.

Some good plants to rotate with tomatoes include those plants from the mustard family, the legume family, and the grass family. The mustard family includes turnips, broccoli, and cauliflower. Peas and all beans are represented in the legume family. Corn is a member of the grass family.

The length of time between rotations varies and should be anywhere from one to three years between plantings. The best interval really depends on your garden. Start off rotating yearly and then take the time to experiment and determine what is most beneficial to your garden, and this will yield the best results. As with your choice of plantings, how often you rotate is up to you, the home gardener.

Comments from Other Gardeners
  • Nick says:

    When I rotate my plants, I also give the soil time to rest. I till in some new compost and other soil amendments as needed, water and then cover with clear plastic for a month or 2. Usually I am doing this in July or August when it is really hot!

  • healthnut says:

    Are there any plants that don’t fit well into rotation with tomato plants? I typically grow onions, peppers, brussels sprouts, lettuce and herbs.

  • saucelover says:

    I do the same thing because my parents taught us that rested soil was productive soil. Of course, growing up, I only had limited growing seasons so that meant that we rotated one garden spot out per year but now that I live in an area where I can plant pretty much year-round, I usually try to skip one “season” every couple of growth periods.

    Since I started doing this, my yields have improved and it seems that I have fewer problems with diseases, too. Rotating works!

  • Sam says:

    to healthnut… Rotate like crops because they tend to get like disease. Tomatoes are nightshades so you would rotate tomatoes with peppers and eggplant.

  • Theresa says:

    @Sam: When you say rotate like with like, do you mean that they should be rotated OUT together, or that you should plant like plants in the soil when you’re NOT planting tomatoes there? I’s confused because I thought that you were supposed to put different plants there that are resistant to the molds and diseases…?

    I’m just trying to get a good handle on this because I want to do it right :)

  • Theresa says:

    We’re fortunate enough to have a couple of acres at our disposal so we rotate the garden spot every year. Before we moved here, though, we only had enough space to do a small backyard garded so I had to be careful about what I planted where.

    I learned to get super creative and we built 2 planters that were stepped so that we could get more plants in the space. We just kept like plants together then each season we would switch planters. In other words, the tomatoes, peppers, etc would all be in one planter one season, and then in the other then next season. It worked for us.

  • Debra a jensen says:

    Is a plant or vegetable I can grow in the winter where my tomatoes were planted that will amend the soil for next tomato season? I have a very small garden with little, if any, room for crop rotation.

  • Larry says:

    I like to plant tomatoes to can and make salsa, but really don’t have the area to rotate much. Would it beneficial to cover the soil with black plastic, with drip irrigation under the plastic, and then covering the plastic with straw or hay mulch. Thinking this would maybe stop the blights from coming up from the soil. Or are the blights/diseases carried up from the soil to the plant via roots? Last year I had to fight spider mites and this year blights! I need crop insurance!

  • says:

    Is there a distance rotated plants should be grown away from their previous plot? A few feet? Yards?

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