Although they are scientifically a fruit, tomatoes are considered one of the most essential and delicious vegetables because of their freshness, crisp taste, and versatility. Once grown, they can be placed in salads, used for pizza, and even make delicious soup and sauces. However, to get them started in life, you need to have the best soil for them to be healthy and strong.
Researchers have discovered that the soil a tomato is planted in will affect its overall taste, meaning it’s important to have the best soil for your tomatoes. Check out this guide to see just what you need for texture, pH, and tons of other information.
The Best Soil for Tomatoes
Tomatoes are an excellent plant because they manage to be unique and versatile, capable of growing in most locations and situations. However, if you want the best tomatoes, it’s still a good idea to identify the right soil, which should combine the right texture, pH, and moisture content. Overall, tomatoes do well with loose, well-ventilated options and aren’t too picky about composition. This means that even if you make a mistake, you’re still bound to get delicious tomatoes!
The Right Texture
One of the benefits of planting tomatoes is that they are capable of growing in soils of almost any composition and texture, excluding heavy clay. Perhaps the best style for them is loam and sandy loam, which allows the roots to receive oxygen while still providing a dense nutrient resource. Also, remember that tomatoes don’t do well in waterlogged soil, so avoid planting them near a water source and only water them until the soil is damp, not soaked.
You can improve any soil you currently have and make it right for tomatoes by tilling it on a regular basis to give it a chance to aerate, become less packed, and hopefully bring nutrients to the top. You can further add some extra elements to improve texture such as sand, sawdust, and peat moss.
Tomatoes, like many other fruits – or vegetables depending on your definition – require a soil that is quite neutral. This means it should be neither acidic nor alkaline, and should instead have an overall pH of around 7 on the traditional scale. Alkaline substances typically range from 1-5 while acidic ones are 9-14.
Before planting tomatoes, always check the soil’s pH through a basic soil test. Kits can be purchased from most garden stores or ordered online. An inexpensive test won’t take more than a few minutes.
If the area you want to use has soil that is too alkaline, you can make it more acidic by adding agricultural lime. If it is already too acidic, you can make it right by adding elemental sulfur or premixed fertilizers that contain ammonium sulfate. Ammonium sulfate is primarily a nitrogen fertilizer that has been popular for over a century.
Where to Plant
If you do plant tomatoes, it’s important to give them a new location in the yard each year. This ensures that the soil has enough time to replenish its nutrients. If you have tomatoes in the same family – for example, you’re using seeds from the ones you grew last year – don’t plant new ones near each other. This is a recipe for disaster because they will struggle with similar pest problems and you could end up losing all of your tomatoes.
Although sunlight doesn’t really affect the soil, remember to plant tomatoes in a location where they will get at least 8 hours of full sunshine a day. These glorious red fruits desperately enjoy sunbathing and won’t grow properly without it.
The only catch to sunshine is that the sun around noon might be too intense for the plants. Many growers either place strategic cloths as protection or otherwise plant sunflowers that will be in full bloom and defend the fresh tomatoes from much of the sun’s harsh rays. If you can, try to plot out your garden before you start cultivating and try to figure out when shade appears and from what direction. It can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
Can Tomatoes Be Grown in Pots?
Although tomatoes are usually grown outdoors in vegetable gardens and fields, it is possible to keep a tomato in a pot. The best pot will be one that allows the tomato to grow and spread its roots. One popular option is to use traditional clay, which manages to be slightly porous but durable enough to contain the roots.
Other options for potting that you can use are the more common plastic, which is flexible and easy to care for, as well as ceramic or glazed options. Because tomatoes are a hardy plant, their type of pot doesn’t have much effect on growth. The only catch is you don’t want to choose one that is too small because the roots will either become stunted or break the pot.
So, when trying to grow a tomato in a pot, spring for a model that is between 18 and 24 in. in diameter. In general, if you know the rough size of your tomato plants, the key is to tailor the pot with your growth expectations. If you don’t know the size of the adults, spring for a larger option. There’s no harm in going big for potted tomatoes/
Do They Need Special Soil?
Tomatoes that are planted in pots don’t get as many nutrients as those that are outdoors, so it’s important to craft a special soil. Most professionals recommend mixing a combination of potting soil, perlite, sphagnum peat moss, and compost. This ensures the soil contains enough nutrition and will not be deficient.
Tomatoes are one of the easiest plants to grow, making them a great choice for beginner gardeners. However, even the most experienced individual can enjoy cultivating such a tasty treat by using the right soil. If you follow this guide, you are just about guaranteed to use the best soil for tomatoes, resulting in some delicious food. Aren’t you glad you chose to “catch up” on tomatoes?