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Can You Grow Tomatoes In The Same Soil – Does It Work?

Tomatoes are one of the most commonly grown crops today. They are a staple in many households and families today. For those still learning tips and tricks with growing tomatoes, you may wonder why your tomato leaves are curling up and why your plants are growing properly. Maybe you are planting your tomatoes in the same spot for your second growing season, and you are questioning it. Have you asked yourself, can you grow tomatoes in the same soil?

Tomatoes cannot be grown in the same soil every year. They are considered heavy feeders, meaning they take a lot of the nutrients out of the soil as they grow. The soil will then not be adequate to support next year’s tomatoes. You can go through a process to restore your soil of the necessary nutrients to grow tomatoes, but it usually takes three years.

After proper restoration, you can then plant your tomatoes in the same spot you grew them three years ago. Keep reading to learn about why tomatoes won’t survive in old soil and ways to restore your soil with the proper nutrients. Your tomatoes will indeed thrive if you take this knowledge and tips to your garden.

Why Should You Plant Tomatoes In Different Soil Every Year?

Tomatoes are very heavy feeders. Their roots suck many nutrients out of the soil to grow, flourish, and produce fruit. Potassium, phosphorus, and calcium are a few of those nutrients used. Most of the main nutrients are all components of the pH level.

Tomatoes do best with acidic soil, and the pH level will verify whether there are enough vitamins, minerals, and acid in the soil or not. The pH level is a good overall measure of soil adequacy. Tomatoes typically grow best with a pH level as low as 6.0 and as high as 6.8. Most soil will be well below 6.0 by the time the tomatoes are done growing. Therefore the soil will not be acidic enough to grow tomatoes the following year. 

Examples Of Other Heavy Feeder Crops

  • Broccoli
  • Corn
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Melons

What Is Crop Rotation And How Can It Solve Your Issues?

Crop rotation is a technique used by many to take advantage of soils that are left with lower amounts of nutrients. It involves planting different crops in different areas of your garden and then rotating them each year. For example, It was mentioned above that the soil tomatoes grow in must be left for three years before you can grow a new batch of tomatoes in that same soil.

Other crops can be planted in the old soil that isn’t heavy feeders during that three years. They don’t need the same nutrients to grow as tomatoes do. Better yet, they can restore nutrients and raise the pH balance for future tomatoes.

Root crops such as carrots, potatoes, and garlic are lighter feeders that will thrive in old tomato soil. Crops such as clovers, peas, and beans will also grow well in lower nutrient soil, and once they are done for the season, they can be turned over into the soil to provide a nutrient-dense organic matter for tomatoes to grow in again. 

Tips On Restoring Old Soil For Future Tomatoes

  1. Check your soil pH balance, as mentioned before. You can buy test kits online or at your local garden store. Make sure the range is between 6.0 and 6.8. If it’s not, then use the level as a base and retest after completing the next steps. 
  2. Turn up your soil. With time it may have become compact, not allowing enough air in to aid in the growing process. You want your soil to be light and airy. This will also allow water to trickle down properly and reach the roots. 
  3. Remove any debris, rocks, or large pieces of matter in your soil. A rake is a great tool. You can also shovel batches of dirt onto a tarp and sift through it if there’s a large amount of debris.
  4. Make use of compost. Having a compost bin to dispose of organic matter can benefit your gardening soil. Compost, if done properly, is full of vitamins and minerals that can be blended into your soil. It is a natural fertilizer that will greatly restore your soil from its depleted nutrients.
  5. Add aged animal manure to your soil. If you don’t have an animal farm or a local manure provider, purchase a fertilizer with the same nutrient properties. Manure contains phosphorus, calcium, and potassium, which are key nutrients tomatoes need to grow that were mentioned above. Those are just three of the nutrients in manure. There are so many more. 
  6. Throw some mulch on the surface of the soil. In doing so, the soil will be protected from weeds, and it can also withhold its moisture and cooler temperature better. 

Last Thoughts

Overall, it is vital in tomato growth that you don’t use the same soil every year. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and remove most of the nutrients from their soil to grow properly. Give your soil at least three years to regain its nutrients and to prepare for a new batch of tomato plants.

Find a different spot to plant your tomatoes. During these three years, you can practice crop rotation to make use of the soil and space by planting lighter feeding crops. They will restore the soil of nutrients while not requiring a lot in return.

Also, go over the six steps listed above to ensure your soil is adequate. A pH test will determine whether or not it is. Overall, patience and time play a significant role in tomato growth. But you will reap the benefits of not using the same soil every year through your beautiful tomato harvests. This may be the one reason your tomatoes haven’t been thriving.