I have been growing tomato's in the same location, (south side along house, Flathead Valley, NW Montana), for 16 years. I have added soil / compost almost every year and had good results and more tomato's than I can use each year.
This year my tomato's did not grow very large. Roma's is what I like to grow, but most were very small. My volunteers were regular size. I purchase a new seed packet every couple years. Maybe I got a bad packet?
My question is should I be doing crop rotation or keep on with the new soil?
This past year my volunteers out produced my transplants.
Simple reflection on the OP's description of the situation leads me to agree with him in suspecting the seed. My guess would be the seed was infected with virus or another pathogen, or perhaps the young seedlings got thus infected when they were growing separately from the volunteers. This can happen from potting mix, from aphids, etc. spreading disease from another nearby infected plant and other sources.
Since he has been growing tomatoes in the same location for so long without a problem, I have no cause to suspect the soil or lack of crop rotation. This would show up as a gradual decline in yield and/or quality year after year, not a sudden dramatic change. Another possibility is that some soil, compost, or other amendment from a new source was added to the area, which was infected somehow. But if the volunteers are also growing in the same area, then it's definitely the seed or the seedlings and/or their soil.
Numerous resources will assure us that, despite conventional wisdom about rotations, for some crops (and tomatoes are specifically mentioned) in some situations, crop rotation is not so necessary.
Location: 10 miles NW of Helena Montana
posted 5 years ago
Robert, thanks for the reply. I have basically rebuilt the soil each year with compost and new soil. Never had that problem before, but I think I will move the plants to another location on the south side of the house just to make sure.
Alder, thanks also. I am going to get new seeds this year. Almost time to start the tomato plants!
And the seed catalogs are starting to come in the mail !!! And winter is just starting....
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
posted 5 years ago
Rob Breeden wrote:So I was wondering if anyone has experience in inter-planting other species with tomatoes such as in a guild; ie. to help with nutrient balance, attracting pollinators, pest control, etc. Thanks.
I find tomatoes are by far the most difficult plants to plolyculture-
while I can take a guess at their mature girth depending on whether they're staked, sprawled etc,
once they get going they grow so fast, and messily...
That said, I usually plant fast-growing things like lettuce and coriander between the young tomatoes.
They'll mostly come out before the toms get into the 'swamp everything' stage
I recently broadcast a mix of buckwheat, lupins, short sunflowers, cosmos and a few other bits and bobs in one tomato patch.
I don't care at all if the tomatoes overwhelm nearly everything,
but my tomatoes are planted early and take a while to take off-
I'm not risking them getting pushed out by the support plants!
I find insect pollination isn't an issue with tomatoes as they're generally wind pollinated.
I grow my tomatoes in more-or-less the same places every year:
my garden is very small, and appropriate spots are limited.
Aside from the year of the late blight apocalypse, I've been ok.
I add plenty of compost and seaweed.