We built a large cold frame this year to grow our tomatoes. We're zone 2/3, and in a windy area, so the protected space was necessary, and we had a successful crop. I've picked all of the fruit now ( snow in the forecast this week). I have two questions:
1. I've read about crop rotation, but we really don't have another place to grow tomatoes. Is there anything amendments I can add this fall to help prevent disease and add nutrients? I was planning on adding some ground eggshells, compost, a good layer of leaves, and a layer of organic straw.
2. I've got 12 picked tomato plants, what's the best way to use this organic material? I'm hesitant to use it as green mulch in the tomato bed, I don't want to spread any disease.
Hi Callandra. I think one great approach to minimizing disease since you don't have much room to rotate your tomatoes is to focus on keeping the beneficial bacteria and fungi populations abundant and thriving in your soil. With legions of good microbial activity, it will be much more difficult for disease pathogens to get a foothold and cause infection and crop loss. Keep using that compost, and consider making compost teas. Adding fungi helps too, and can be as simple as taking any kind of mushroom, whirring them up in a blender with some chemical-free water and applying this slurry to a soil. Here is some great information on how to get good biology going in a soil: https://permies.com/t/76498/biology-soil
Another aspect to disease prevention is having healthy plants, which resist diseases. Healthy plants are achieved by having a full compliment of minerals in a soil available for plants and the biology in the soil to use. Here is some information on soil minerals: https://permies.com/t/91663/talk-soil-minerals
We compost all of the garden refuse (plants) doing this allows us to retain as much of the nutrients the plants used for growing as possible.
Once you have the compost spreading it on your growing soil will reduce weed growth.
As James mentioned, a strong and healthy microbiome of fungi and bacteria along with beneficial nematodes, amoeba, flagellates, etc. is the best preventative you can have in your soil.