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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #1
cdg
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Default Tomato Plant Cleanup

Do you pull your spent tomato plants for fall cleanup or do you cut them at ground level and leave the roots in the soil . I have raised beds if that makes a difference . Thanks
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #2
slugworth
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grip and rip
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #3
brownrexx
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I pull them out and dispose of the plants off site to prevent introducing any pathogens into my compost pile.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #4
SQWIBB
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Last year I chopped and dropped the entire plant, this year I plan on doing it a bit differently.
I just took out two plants they were doing ok, but they needed to go.
From these I cut at soil level, leave roots intact, tear off the green tomatoes and toss in a bucket with healthy foliage (for compost), the rest goes into the firepit.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #5
PaulF
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Everything goes and is disposed away from the garden.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #6
cdg
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Thanks very much to all .
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #7
AlittleSalt
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I grew in containers and cut the tomato plants down to a 5 inch stem. Removed the plant. The roots will disintegrate over a few months. (I'm not saying this is the right or wrong way of doing things - just what I experienced).
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #8
GoDawgs
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When we used to grow tomatoes in the raised beds we'd just pull the plants and just shake the soil off the roots. We now grow them in containers up by the house due to bacterial wilt problems in the garden. Plants now get pulled with the soil shaken off and disposed of on Mt. Brushmore down in the back area.

This year in stead of dumping the soil into some raised beds that could use a little more, we're going to play with growing a kitchen garden since the buckets are up near the house. Stuff like lettuce, arugula, baby bok choy, etc

Last edited by GoDawgs; 3 Weeks Ago at 08:51 AM.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #9
bower
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In the past I've always pulled the main root and leave the little ones in the ground.


A lot of people seem to dispose their plants off site which is a shame. I couldn't bring myself to do that but I did make a separate compost pile for tomato plants, and a few times I have hauled them off into the woods to rot in their own spot. They produce a ton of biomass for composting, I mean tomato plants are huge producers of vine no matter how well your fruit do.

In fact I haven't seen any detrimental effect of growing tomatoes in the soil where their own roots decomposed. And I have let volunteers to grow in a compost pile that contained some tomato waste, and they weren't bothered by that either. So I'm not really convinced about the mythology of tomato plant disposal. The scorched earth approach doesn't seem justified. In large commercial operations the recommended practice is to till the plant residues into the ground and then rotate to a different crop for one year. Basically just about all tomato diseases are destroyed when the plant material is completely decomposed.

Another safer way is also easy to do - make more than one compost pile. Have a pile where you incorporate the tomato vines and a separate one for garlic/onions waste. Then you can feed them to each other and not worry about any carry over of diseases etc.

Composting may be the best way of adding carbon to the soil instead of releasing to the atmosphere, according to one 19 year long study. There is a big footprint for sending vines to the dump or burning them, which could be sequestered instead. Even if you keep them out of the veggie garden and just feed them to your shrubs and trees, we could do a good thing by composting our dead plants instead.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #10
Worth1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bower View Post
In the past I've always pulled the main root and leave the little ones in the ground.


A lot of people seem to dispose their plants off site which is a shame. I couldn't bring myself to do that but I did make a separate compost pile for tomato plants, and a few times I have hauled them off into the woods to rot in their own spot. They produce a ton of biomass for composting, I mean tomato plants are huge producers of vine no matter how well your fruit do.

In fact I haven't seen any detrimental effect of growing tomatoes in the soil where their own roots decomposed. And I have let volunteers to grow in a compost pile that contained some tomato waste, and they weren't bothered by that either. So I'm not really convinced about the mythology of tomato plant disposal. The scorched earth approach doesn't seem justified. In large commercial operations the recommended practice is to till the plant residues into the ground and then rotate to a different crop for one year. Basically just about all tomato diseases are destroyed when the plant material is completely decomposed.

Another safer way is also easy to do - make more than one compost pile. Have a pile where you incorporate the tomato vines and a separate one for garlic/onions waste. Then you can feed them to each other and not worry about any carry over of diseases etc.

Composting may be the best way of adding carbon to the soil instead of releasing to the atmosphere, according to one 19 year long study. There is a big footprint for sending vines to the dump or burning them, which could be sequestered instead. Even if you keep them out of the veggie garden and just feed them to your shrubs and trees, we could do a good thing by composting our dead plants instead.
I'm doing better than I thought.
None of my stuff goes to the city dump just trash.
Even the countless sticks that fall out of the trees and the leaves get chopped up and put back in the soil as nature intended.
Tomato plants get solarized on the driveway and some how vanish.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #11
bower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
I'm doing better than I thought.
None of my stuff goes to the city dump just trash.
Even the countless sticks that fall out of the trees and the leaves get chopped up and put back in the soil as nature intended.
Tomato plants get solarized on the driveway and some how vanish.



Yeah, the issue with plant material that goes to the dump, it tends to be rotting anaerobically among the trash and therefore emits methane instead of the (small or balanced) amount of CO2 emitted from an aerobic compost process. The cool thing I learned about compost, it's the organisms that live in that fresh soil which also are able to sequester carbon in the ground. No till without added compost may not sequester much (if any). I'm sure that depends also on specific soil and moisture conditions, eventually we'll get the full picture but science takes time alright.

Your Texas heat must be great for incorporating leaves and sticks into the soil. The structure of tree litter is such that it is naturally aerobic as it slowly breaks down with fungi involved. I have so much sticks and brush from conifers around my place, we used to burn yearly. Have not done that for quite a few years but the slowly decomposing needles and branches don't make a very hospitable soil at the end of the day - except for conifers of course. I'm trying a hugel approach now in the area near the house, trying to make some soil with a compost over fir branches. Got some bags of maple leaves from my brother's place too, which are desperately needed to make this old clay a better place for some food trees to grow. Funny how all trees seem to make the kind of soil they needed themselves! Nature's way, you got it.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #12
Worth1
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I read back in the 80's I think, that conifers first then as the soil gets better hardwoods take over.
The destruction of hardwood forest to grow fast growth pine for pulp and lumber is counter productive to nature.
I became an environmentalist not because it was the fad thing to do with a bunch of bus riding save the planet hippies in the 70's
But because I grew up in the logging industry and have seen it from both ends.
Seeing countless trucks come out of the mountains stripping the forest bare of all thing living.
I was in those trucks and at the sawmills.
Seen the once clear streams I could drink out of turn to muddy washes.
By being raised this way it has made me very conservative when it comes to cutting lumber.
I squeeze every bit I can out of it.

My wife asked me if I was going to go back home when she died.
I told her that home wasn't there anymore.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #13
b54red
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Plant cleanup is the saddest part of the tomato season each year. Those beautiful productive vines becoming wilted, sickly, ugly fading shadows of themselves and having to rip that mess out and cleanup the mess is something I always put off until the last minute. Oh well, it's time to start some seed for fall crops like broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and lettuce. For some reason I just don't feel the excitement as much.

Bill
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #14
Tracydr
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I pull up because I am replacing immediately with a cool weather crop for winter. I bury the plant deep into the compost pile under leavesm,manure and weeds.
I also like to pull them up to check for root knot nematodes since I’m new to the south and I have fairly sandy soil. I know it’s a big problem in our area.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #15
taboule
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I do this in 3 easy steps to remove most of the dead material, while keeping all the good dirt behind.

First I cut a few inches above ground, leaving enough of a handle for the later pull, and causing little disturbance that would drop more of the dry sick leaves.

Step 2, when all plants are gone, I rake the beds gently to remove all dead leaves and material. The beds are clean and ready to winter at this point, if I run out of time to pull the roots.

Step 3 is the easiest, especially if done in the spring. Grab the trunk and pull, then shake off the root mass.

Yes it's a bit sad but also therapeutic and revives a good cycle.
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