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I'm curious if anyone has had any luck with planting a cover crop like clover under tomato/eggplant/pepper plants... I garden organically and have issues with early/late blight that always takes out my tomatoes mid-summer, and I've read that keeping the soil off of the leaves will help mitigate that. So, I wonder if a cover crop would

  1. Retain moisture
  2. Keep soil off of the leaves
  3. Prevent other choking weeds
  4. Provide more food in the form of nitrogen (if using clover)

My biggest concern is that the roots of the cover crop may compete with those of the tomato, so has anyone tried this and what has been your experience?

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I had the 'late blight tomato garden test strip' for Master Gardeners...a long time ago. You are correct in your thinking. I almost wish I'd tried that idea. But no matter weeds or clover, both will rob chemicals. It takes only ONE STUPID DROP WITH SOIL AND SPORE to infect and totally kill your tomato plant. I learned this the hard hard way! Couldn't even save the tomatoes! In 3 days flat these 4' high by 2' wide, almost hedges (tooooo tight) by 50'in length laden with the most beautiful crop I could imagine were BLACK. So were the tomatoes I tried to rescue. In THREE days they were all black black black and this was in a virgin garden that had never had a tomato, potato, pepper or eggplant anywhere close!!

What I did that worked best was COVER the entire row of tomatoes making a temporary hoop green house later in the year when Late Blight is viable. I covered the soil with decomposed organic mulch and pruned off any leaves within a foot of the soil and/or mulch. Reduce nitrogen in a big way. You should reduce nitrogen anyway if you want tomatoes instead of too vigorous vegetative growth. The other test was fine wood chips for mulch, pruned and covered from any water hitting the ground. Worked just as well for the crop size, the vegetation wasn't as green but produced almost as many tomatoes. All the tomatoes that were able to get water on the leaves and soil splashing did not make it at all.

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