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What NOT to Plant After Tomatoes

Choosing the right plants to follow your tomatoes is vital for maintaining a healthy and productive garden.

As vegetable gardeners, we cherish the joy of growing luscious tomatoes each year. Their juicy, ripe fruits enrich our salads and countless other dishes. But what happens after your tomato crop has finished?

Choosing the right plants to follow your tomatoes is vital for maintaining a healthy and productive garden.

Tomatoes are heavy feeders, meaning they deplete the soil of essential nutrients quickly. Planting the wrong crops after tomatoes can lead to poor yields and unhealthy plants. 

Understanding which plants to avoid is essential for keeping your garden in top shape. 

Before getting into the things you definitely don’t want to plant after tomatoes, here’s a quick recap of the 4 crop rotation method.

What is the 4 Crop Rotation Method?

Here’s the common method used to better understand how crop rotation works. Essentially, you want to plant a different type of crop in the same location in succession. There are four main crop groups.

The Four Main Crop Groups

  1. Legumes: Such as beans and peas
  2. Green Crops: Such as lettuce, spinach, silverbeet, and Asian greens
  3. Fruiting Crops: Such as tomatoes, capsicum, cucumbers, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet corn
  4. Root Crops: Such as carrots, onions, leeks, beetroot, garlic, and parsnips

Why Rotate Crops This Way?

  • Legumes: Add nitrogen to the soil
  • Green Crops: Are heavy nitrogen feeders
  • Fruiting Crops: Need less nitrogen but more potassium to produce their fruits
  • Root Crops: Are light feeders

Although this is a fairly simple explanation, it’s an easy one to remember. If you follow this type of rotation, you should have good success with every crop that you plant.

Consider a Green Manure Crop

In saying that, there is a fifth crop that you should consider growing if you’re following sustainable gardening practices, and that is a green manure crop. 

A manure crop is one that is not harvested but worked back into the soil before it has a chance to flower.

Annual grasses and certain legumes are great for this. Once these crops are worked back into the soil, they decompose and add valuable nutrients to the soil.

So what does all this mean for our tomato patch?

What Not to Plant After Tomatoes

Avoid Planting Green Crops

In general, avoid planting green crops or other fruiting crops immediately after tomatoes. Green crops like silverbeet need a significant amount of nitrogen. 

Unless you’ve enriched the soil with lots of matured compost after removing the tomato plants, these crops will struggle to thrive.

Avoid Other Fruiting Crops

Fruiting crops require the same types and amounts of nutrients as tomatoes. Since tomatoes have already depleted the soil of these vital nutrients, planting another fruiting crop in the same spot will not yield good results. Here are some examples of what to avoid:

  • Capsicum: Just like tomatoes, capsicum needs a lot of nutrients, particularly potassium, to produce its fruits.
  • Cucumbers: These also demand high nutrient levels for fruit production, which the soil will lack post-tomato harvest.
  • Zucchini: Similar to cucumbers and capsicum, zucchini will struggle to grow well in nutrient-depleted soil.

Avoid Planting Other Nightshades

Nightshades, or the Solanaceae family, include potatoes, eggplants, and peppers. These plants share similar pests and diseases with tomatoes, such as blight and nematodes. 

Planting nightshades after tomatoes can heighten the risk of these issues recurring in your garden.

  • Potatoes: Potatoes suffer from the same soilborne diseases as tomatoes. Planting potatoes after tomatoes can lead to a build-up of pathogens in the soil, making it tough to grow healthy crops later.
  • Eggplants: Eggplants attract the same pests as tomatoes. Planting eggplants in the same spot can spread diseases like verticillium wilt and bacterial spot.
  • Peppers: Peppers are susceptible to similar diseases as tomatoes. Planting them after tomatoes can exacerbate these problems, so it’s best to plant peppers elsewhere.

Avoid Heavy Feeders

Heavy feeders consume a lot of nutrients from the soil, just like tomatoes. Planting them after tomatoes can further deplete the soil, leading to poor growth and reduced yields.

  • Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Cabbage: These brassicas are heavy feeders and need nutrient-rich soil to thrive.
  • Sweet Corn: Corn requires a lot of nitrogen, and planting it in soil already depleted by tomatoes can lead to poor growth.
  • Lettuce, Cucumbers, and Zucchini: These crops also require high nutrient levels and should be avoided after tomatoes.

What to Plant Instead

To maintain soil health and ensure good yields, consider planting the following crops after tomatoes:

Legumes

Legumes like beans and peas are excellent choices to follow tomatoes. They help fix nitrogen in the soil, replenishing what tomatoes have depleted.

Light Feeders

Crops like onions, garlic, beetroot, carrots, and parsnips are light feeders. They don’t require as much nutrition from the soil and can grow well after tomatoes.

Enhancing Soil Health

To ensure the success of your garden after tomatoes, consider improving soil health with these methods:

Add Organic Matter

Incorporate compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to replenish nutrients. This can help restore soil fertility and improve its structure.

Use Cover Crops

Planting cover crops, such as clover or vetch, can help improve soil health. These crops fix nitrogen, improve soil structure, and prevent erosion.

Rotate Crops

Practicing crop rotation can help maintain soil health and reduce the risk of pests and diseases. Plan your garden layout to ensure heavy feeders like tomatoes are not planted in the same spot year after year.

Conclusion

Understanding what not to plant after tomatoes is essential for maintaining a healthy and productive garden. 

By avoiding crops that share similar pests and diseases or have high nutrient requirements, you can keep your soil fertile and your plants thriving. 

Remember to rotate your crops, improve soil health, and choose the right plants to follow your tomato harvest. Happy gardening!

Photo of author

Linda Jones

Based in sunny Brisbane, Linda has a keen interest in ornamental plants. She firmly believes that gardens are as much about aesthetics as they are about functionality. Despite being a life-long gardener, she still enjoys learning about new plants and gardening techniques and sharing her discoveries with the Ultimate Backyard community. When she's not immersed in her garden, Linda loves reading and walking.

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