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Vegetable Bed

(September 2010)

QuestionWe have a raised garden which we have planted for ten years. My question is that every year my tomatoes look beautiful until they begin to put on tomatoes. Then the vines begin to turn yellow and no amount of spraying or watering seems to help. Is the soil just needing something or should we just not use this garden for a year and cover it with plastic to maybe rid it of the bacteria or whatever causes this blight. Is there anything I can put into the soil to help it?

AnswerWe strongly encourage crop rotation--not planting in the same spot for three years. When you plant over and over again in the same spot, diseases build up and hit you earlier and earlier each season. While there are some pesticides for certain diseases, many of the soil borne problems are not covered. Solarize your soil now. You are getting a little late for 100% effectiveness, but try. Till the soil, thoroughly wet it and cover with clear plastic for at least 6-8 weeks. Test the soil this fall and see what the pH is and what your nutritional levels are. When you choose new plants next spring, look for disease resistance--VFN following the name. Try to divide the bed into thirds and plant one third with tomatoes next year, the next year in a different third and then the latter third in the third year. This can help.

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