ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

What to Plant After Tomatoes (Based on Crop Rotation Principles)

Because tomatoes are fruiting crops, they’re considered to be heavy feeders. This means that they’ll deplete the soil of nutrients fairly quickly.

As vegetable gardeners, we love to grow luscious tomatoes every year and we look forward to those gorgeous ripe fruits that we can add to our salads and enjoy in so many other ways.

But, once your tomato crop has finished, what should you plant in its place and why is this important?

What are the best vegetables to plant after tomatoes?

carrots 3 | Fruit & Vegetables
Root crops such as carrots are a good option to plant after tomatoes.

Because tomatoes are fruiting crops, they’re considered to be heavy feeders. While they do require nitrogen for their initial green growth and phosphorus for good root health, they also require copious amounts of potassium to produce plenty of fruit.

This means that they’ll deplete the soil of these nutrients fairly quickly.

Therefore, if you want to reuse the same garden bed or area to grow another crop straight away, you need to consider growing light feeders such as root crops.

These include things like onions, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, and garlic. You’ll notice too that this crop group grows quite happily over the colder months.

What shouldn’t you plant after tomatoes?

chard 1 | Fruit & Vegetables
Avoid planting green crops like silverbeet after tomatoes.

In general, you don’t want to plant green crops or other fruiting crops after tomatoes.

Green crops need a good amount of nitrogen and, unless you’ve enriched the soil with lots of matured compost after pulling out the tomato plants, these plants will not thrive.

Additionally, other fruiting crops will require the same type and amount of nutrients as tomatoes.

Once again, the tomatoes will have depleted the soil of these vital nutrients and you won’t have as much success with another type of fruiting crop.

What is crop rotation and why is it important?

vegetable garden 2 | Fruit & Vegetables
Crop rotation helps your fruit and vegetables thrive and reduces the risk of pests or diseases.

When I studied for my Associate Diploma in Horticulture, one of the main things that really stuck with me was the importance of crop rotation, especially when growing vegetables.

The idea behind crop rotation is that each type of crop takes certain elements from the soil in greater amounts than other crops. There is also a group of crops that actually add essential elements to the soil.

Therefore, to keep the soil healthy and nourished, we need to grow our crops in rotation.

The other important element in crop rotation is the fact that it helps to break the cycle of certain pests and diseases that tend to live in the soil.

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 4 main crop groups.

These are:

  • Legumes such as beans and peas
  • Green crops such as lettuce, spinach, silverbeet, and Asian greens
  • Fruiting crops such as tomatoes, capsicum, cucumbers, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet corn
  • Root crops such as carrots, onions, leeks, beetroot, garlic, and parsnips

Here’s why we are taught to rotate crops in this way.

  1. Legumes add nitrogen to the soil
  2. Green crops are heavy nitrogen feeders
  3. Fruiting crops need less nitrogen but more potassium to produce their fruits
  4. Root crops are light feeders 

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

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.

FAQ

Can I plant tomatoes in the same place every year?

It’s generally not a good idea to plant tomatoes in the same place every year. This is because there are certain soil-borne diseases that will overwinter in the soil and then, infect your next tomato crop.

Can you reuse soil from tomato plants?

You shouldn’t use the same soil for growing tomato plants successively. However, if you enrich the soil by adding lots of matured compost, you can use it to grow other plants.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

ADVERTISEMENT

Leave a Comment