When it comes to growing tomatoes in the vegetable garden, nothing is more important than soil. The soil is where tomato plants will get the nutrients they need to thrive and produce good fruit. Most tomatoes take 100-days to bear fruit, so follow these easy directions and get ready to harvest the fruits of your labors and enjoy that first BLT of the season.
Preparing Garden Soil For Tomato Plants
Soil Porosity: Tomato plants prefer growing in deep, loamy, and well-drained soil if they are to produce top-notch quality fruit. One way to accomplish this for them is to build "raised", or "mounded" garden beds.
Soil pH: Tomatoes prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. The term pH balance refers to acidity or the alkalinity of your soil from a numerical scale of 1.0 to 14.0. The neutral point on the pH scale is 7.0. Higher than 6.5 indicates alkaline soil, lower than that indicates acidic soil. Test kits are available at garden centers or through local horticultural organizations such as your Local Extension Service.
To raise the soils pH, work agriculture lime (pellitized works faster) into the soil. Use sulfur to lower the pH of alkaline soil.
Compost Amendments: Tomato plants can benefit tremendously from the incorporation of organic compost in the soil. Mushroom compost and composted cow manure are two of many organic garden soil amendments that your tomatoes will love and appreciate you for. Amendments will also change the soil's pH over time. Adding decomposed organic compost will improve any soil structure. You can purchase or make your own compost. Once you have cultivated your garden area and prepared the soil, it is ready for the plantings.
Fertilizers For Tomato Plants: To produce the best fruit possible, your tomato plants will need to be fertilized regularly with a specialty tomato fertilizer or a well-balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Or, if you are interested in organic gardening and not only want to grow tomatoes that are healthier for your body, but taste much better than store-bought, you can use a well-balnced organic fertilizer. Many local independent nursery and garden centers carry these organic fertilizers. Some, like those containing chicken or other manures, are less expensive than standard commercial fertilizers.