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I have a small backyard garden and love to plant tomatoes. I had a problem with my plants this year, I think blight. Since I don't have a lot of room to rotate where I plant, is there something I can do to prepare the soil for next spring's planting?
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Your question raises a couple of questions: [1] Have you grown tomatoes in the same spot for several seasons? If so how many?; and [2] have you introduced any garden-products to your tomatoes that could carry *persistent herbicide residue* - which causes diseased-looking plants in varying degrees? You can see numerous clear photos if you search Google Images & *tomatoes with persistent- herbicide damage.* In our County we have met several experienced gardeners who did not recognize what was affecting their garden crops adversely. As for growing tomatoes in the same spot, I grew indeterminate tomato vines in my *tomato house* for many years without any growth problems. I renewed the soil every year with home-made compost & used a companion-planting of Basil & Marigolds. Google Images probably has tomato blight photos & if the problem was tomato blight - which I have never exerienced - then I would remove all traces of the plants, including the roots, for *burial* on the advice of Hans Herren at Biovision. Post-blight prospects would take some technical research on how the virus persists, probably on university edu websites. You could possibly shift quite a lot of tomato growing to pots ... Please keep us posted!
About what Your problem is I can (could) only speculate; even in my own garden I'm often grossly wrong.If it is due to lack of crop rotation You could add a liberal dose of good compost and also grow an early spring crop,e.g. spinach and/or radish,before planting tomatoes once more.Preventive spraying of the plants with compost extract once a week or so could also improve the situation.None of these measures can do any harm and they are all beneficial.But, if You are indeed facing chemical contamination,which I would not easily assume,then switching to containers(with imported uncontaminated soil!) may be the best solution.You could do the bean/pea seedling test suggested by Jessica in her comment to <kgi/questions/mbusen question> indoors.I would take a few soil samples from the garden ,surface and ~6" depth ,but make sure the pots get enough heat and light indoors to avoid any false Defcon100 alarm.Greetings,antonis
Your advice is good, Antonis. When you do a bio-assay it is important to follow the planting advice in a good description, as in the link from WSU. My two test pots will have to be graded *inconclusive* because I really don't have enough indoor light for growing from seed - with a big west window - and I hastily planted in pure compost, which is *too strong* in various ways & has skewed results. A first, but not the *save something for later* of your dreams. :-) We will aim to set up a bio-assay station in one of the small or larger private greenhouses around the valley.
Btw,cress (Lepidium sativum) can also be used for indication in soil,water and even air.A known number of seeds is put to sprout and within a week or less,germination rate and spout height are compared to parallel run negative tests.A good "second opinion" or a faster stand alone test.However,this is a broad spectrum method without particular indication of specific contaminants.



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