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Removing Tomato Plants the Proper Way

Importance of Removing Tomato Plants

Most crops like tomatoes, potatoes, or squash are highly susceptible to disease and insect pressure. When removing tomato plants is very important to remove them in a proper way because if they are not cleaned out of the garden insect eggs and fungal spores can overwinter and begin to cause major issues in the garden area. Proper disposal of diseased plants is important to maintain health in the vegetable garden.

Tips for Removing Tomato Plants

On this week's episode, Travis explains the importance of removing tomato plants once the crop is done producing in the vegetable garden. When you finish harvesting tomatoes to avoid future problems with the pests and diseases it is highly recommended to clean out that area in the garden. If you do not clean the area out after harvesting, it could become infected with insect eggs and fungal spores that overwinter in the soil and can cause serious problems in the future gardening seasons. The most known pests problems that tomatoes experience are whiteflies, hornworms, and aphids. The most common fungal disease is late blight which can leave moldy spots on tomatoes and mostly come up when there is constant damp weather. Another disease is mosaic virus which creates distorted yellow leaves and should be removed properly to avoid problems in the future too. In the video below, Travis demonstrates how to properly remove and clear the garden area after harvesting tomatoes. He currently has some indeterminate tomatoes that are surrounded by our tomato cages. The tomato cages are used to help support the tomato plants and keep them from growing on the ground which provides better air circulation, fewer disease pressures, and cleaner fruits for harvesting. Travis likes to take pruning shears and cut the stems about 10 inches above the soil line. This will allow him to pull the cages right up out of the soil and lay them on the ground out of the garden area. Once the cages are removed he can go along the row and pull the root mass out of the soil which will clear out the garden. For his determinate tomatoes that are on the Florida Weave trellis, he prefers to take his knife and simply cut the Gro-tine garden twine. Then he will simply pull the entire plant up out of the ground and remove it from the garden area. When you remove all the plants from the ground you want to make sure you dispose of them the proper way. Avoid adding them to your compost pile because you will add insect or fungal spores to the compost that can then lead to serious problems as well. The proper way to dispose of these tomato plants is with a burn pile. If you burn them in a burn pile you will kill off all those insect eggs and fungal spores and they will no longer cause any pest or disease problems. If you have other crops like kale, lettuce, radishes, or broccoli you can till these crops back into the soil. The benefit of tilling these crops into the soil is they will add more organic matter back into the soil. The benefits of adding organic matter back into the soil will overall increase the soil nutrients and health in the garden. Tomatoes like most other crops should be rotated in the garden. If planted in the same spot year after year this will cause disease problems as well. As for the other insect and disease susceptible crops, these should be cleaned out and removed from the vegetable garden properly.