Tomatoes grown in containers are an easier and most popular way of cultivation for novice to wizard gardeners. Very often people ask what kind of potting soil is used for tomatoes. Given the right conditions, you can also get a heap of these tasty and flavourful tomatoes in your home. All it takes is giving a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight and water other than soil.
This popular backyard fruit is known for its flavors which can vary depending on nutrients in the soil. Now, we will walk you through all about the soil, nutrients, components, and DIY for Tomato plants.
What are Tomato Plants?
Tomato is a flowering plant belonging to the family Solanaceae which is largely cultivated for the edible berry from the plant. The name is derived from the Latin word Tomate. Being labeled as Tomatoes, the plant originated from America and Mexico. Tomatoes carry nutritious and health benefits and are consumed in many ways. They are a source of umami flavor. Tomatoes are known as a fruit, botanically, and as vegetables for culinary purposes.
Tomatoes are cultivated and consumed all over the world. There are thousands of tomato varieties among which some commonly known varieties are mentioned below:
- Cherry Tomato is one of the popular small tomato varieties consumed directly as well cooked. They are perfectly round 1 inch in diameter with thin skin.
- Globe Tomato is the most common tomato used all over the world. They are medium to large, with deep red to yellowish.
- Grape Tomato is similar to the size of cherry tomatoes but in an oblong shape. This variety is better for direct consumption and less pulpy than other varieties.
- Plum Tomato also known as Roma is larger than cherry and grape but smaller than the globe. Since they are naturally sweet and low on juice they are preferred to be used in making sauce and pastes.
What Kind of Potting Soil is Used for Tomatoes?
The best soil for Tomatoes is Sandy Loam soil. Loamy soil has a mix of sand, silt, and clay content in it. It will give the right amount of drainage, retention, and texture as well as nutrients in the soil for the plant. Sandy loam will give the extra sandy content for good drainage.
Indoor, Select a soil which does have all the best drainage components for Tomato soil. Buying potting soil or potting mix and making amendments with compost could do the work.
Outdoors, buying organic garden soil does the work. But with the required amendments it will be made for the Tomato Crop.
How to Prepare Potting Mix for a Tomato?
To prepare the potting soil for the Tomato plant, add Equal parts of sand or perlite, coconut coir or peat moss, and Compost to make the best of the potting mix. In the case of using potting soil, depending on the clay in potting soil, add one or two parts of coarse sand to it. This sand will help to make better aeration. The next part is adding perlite (volcanic rock) or gravel or marbles to increase the drainage of the soil. Coconut coir and barks from wood are also added to improve drainage and aeration in the soil.
The Preparation of Potting mix for Tomato plants is easy. With the right ingredients, the price is much lower. Adding potting soil directly for tomatoes is not good. But adding the minerals and mending the soil to improve drainage and aeration will make the potting soil doable.
What are the Components of the Best Soil for Tomato?
Three main components should be present in the soil to make it the best soil for Tomatoes. Let us take a look at them:
Soil Texture- The texture of the soil for Tomato should be from damp to moist. The soil for Tomato prefers very light and loose soil which also holds enough moisture which helps in root growth. The texture of indoor and outdoor soil can vary as one will be in a pot and the other inland.
Well Drainage- A well-draining soil is essential for Tomatoes. If grown in a pot, it needs a drainage hole for proper drainage. Water sitting in the pot may lead to fungal disease and destroy the root. Adding pebbles to the pot with soil will help solve the problem. If grown on land, add coco coir to improve drainage in the soil.
Good aeration- Tomatoes like damp soil but they should have good aeration too. As Tomatoes love dry and light soil to get the proper aeration, giving that will help them grow. Providing extra aeration to the soil will boost the growth of the plant.
Testing the Tomato Soil
If you want to grow tomatoes, the first thing you should do is test your soil. Testing the soil for Tomatoes at every stage of growth will make sure the soil is acidic enough for the plant. Starting from before planting the plant to the fruiting period, keeping a regular check on soil pH is a must. To do the soil pH test,
Litmus Paper Test– This traditional paper test is used to find if the soil is acidic or not. Mix the water and soil in a container and dip the paper. If the Litmus paper turns red, then the soil is acidic.
Digital Tester– The Digital Tester is used in the soil to find the soil pH. This electronic device is made of metal which also shows the mineral levels that are present in the soil.
Lab soil Test– Send your soil sample to a nearby soil lab or extension office to know about the soil. They also give more information to grow the plant along with the soil pH and contents in soil.
What is the Soil pH for Tomatoes?
The Best soil pH for Tomatoes should be around 6.4 and can range from 6.0 to 6.8. Tomatoes like to grow best in slightly acidic soil. If the soil is too alkaline, it may affect the plant. To make your tomato soil acidic, add peat moss to it.
pH is tested to find the potential of hydrogen and uses a chemical scale to identify the nature of the soil. Testing for soil pH is the first step in getting to know the soil. Ph can range from 0 to 14. Any soil with a pH higher than 7 is alkaline and less than 7 is acidic. Do a pH test to find the soil pH level.
Tip 1: The Best NPK ratio for Tomatoes is 5-7-3.
Why do Tomatoes need Acidic soil?
Tomatoes need acidic soil to grow because of their nutrient needs. All varieties of the plant thrive in acidic soil for proper growth and health. Acidic soil will help the Tomato to take the nutrients by attracting bacteria which breaks down the minerals for faster intake of the Tomato crop.
Nutrients like iron, and phosphorus are difficult to obtain in less acidic soil. Soil that isn’t acidic may prevent nutrient intake which is lesser or higher and may also affect the plant. Tomatoes in non-acidic soil may look fine but they will eventually lack nutrients which can endanger plant life. The plant will have iron deficiency and the leaf turns yellow to brown which leads to halted growth and the plant may die.
How to make Soil Acidic for Tomatoes?
To make the soil acidic for Tomato, use some acidifiers in the soil. If the soil test indicates the soil needs more acid or less acid there are many ways to acidify the soil. Soil acidifiers should be applied one time per year. Let us learn about some,
Sulphur– Elemental sulphur is very effective in acidifying the soil naturally. This is one of the common treatments to acidify the soil for Tomatoes. This slow-release and long-term solution will keep the soil pH down right for the Tomato. The Sulphur is easy and safe to use but needs more caution in adding the right proportion to the soil.
Compost– Compost is made of waste from plants, fruits, vegetables, and yards. Using the microorganisms this waste will be broken down to provide nutrients to the soil. Compost provides all essential minerals and NPK to the soil. The water content and density will provide a regular source of food for the Tomatoes.
Mulch– The mulch is spread on the soil which contains both organic and inorganic materials. They contain leaves, lawn clipping, wood, and other such products. Mulch prevents weed growth in the soil and keeps moisture in the soil.
Acidic Fertilisers– Acid or acidic fertilisers will provide acidity directly to the soil. This is best used for half-grown tomatoes which need a boost of acidity for healthy growth and fruit production. Acid fertilisers are sprayed around the soil and work very slowly in the plant.
How to maintain Soil Acidity for Tomatoes?
After achieving the right pH level and acidifying the soil, the soil needs to be monitored to maintain acidity. Since soil amendments last only for two to three months in soil, testing the soil for three months once will help maintain healthy soil for the plant. To give the plant the best-growing conditions add natural solutions to last longer.
Pine needles, Epsom salt, or coffee grounds will make the best solution as they slowly release the acid as per soil needs. You can also use Liquid feed right in acidic contention to maintain a good soil acidity for the Tomato crops.
Tip 2: Watering Tomatoes daily in hot weather will benefit plant growth.
What is a Natural Soil Mix for Tomatoes?
The best soil mix for Tomatoes is a mix of coconut coir, perlite, peat moss, clay pebbles, vermiculate, worm casting, pumice, manure, and forest hummus. These amendments make the best nutrient-rich ingredient mix in the soil for the Tomato.
- Compost– Compost is a rich source of potassium. Compost is formed from waste recycling which is further used to improve the nutrients in the soil.
- Coconut coir– Best fibre source to lighten the soil. Coconut coir is taken from coconut and added to the soil to improve both aeration and drainage in the soil.
- Perlite– Perlite is made from volcanic glass. Provide and improve calcium in the soil. This natural source of calcium can be added to have good slow-release water stored in the soil.
- Peat moss– Containing all three essential nutrients, peat moss has high acidity in it. This is added to increase acidity in the soil for specific plants.
- Vermiculite- Storehouse of Potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Vermiculite is a mineral that is used to increase aeration without losing water and nutrients in the soil.
- Worm casting– Quick source of nitrogen to soil Worm casting is added to retain nutrients in the soil.
- Pumice– Formed from volcanoes when they erupted explosively. The liquid explosion is formed to pumice rock making the aeration for the soil.
- Humus– Rich in nitrogen. Humus is half completed or almost decayed organic material which makes the soil fertile.
Tip 3: Add a lot of fertilisers for Tomatoes in containers as they need more nutrients to grow.
DIY to make Soil for Tomato at Home(Guide)
To make your DIY soil for your Tomato,
Some tips to know before you start making your soil mix for plants. Since it needs soil that holds aeration as well as drainage. Collecting everything beforehand will be good.
- Collecting all the ingredients before making the soil.
- Take time to mix the ingredients.
- Learn other items like reading a pH tester, types of nutrients, and their uses.
Now you can start making the DIY with the below-given ingredients and follow up,
- Gear up with gloves to avoid dirt from the soil.
- Measuring cup or instrument to measure the ingredients.
- Bucket or vessel to make space to mix the soil.
- A small shovel/ Trowel to mix the soil.
- Dust mask.
There are plenty of ingredients one can use to get great soil for your Tomato. The plant’s need for a certain ingredient changes depending on its location and environment.
- Coarse sand
- Peat moss
- Coconut coir
- Pine bark
- Potting soil
Here are my trusted recipe to make your Tomato soil,
- 1 Part Sand
- 1 Part Coco coir
- 1 Part Peat moss
After collecting all the required ingredients and tools add the measured ingredients to the vessel with the help of a trowel and add all the components and blend it well so both are mixed.
Where to Buy Soil for Tomatoes?
Soil for Tomato can be bought in a nearby commercial store or online. In stores, you can get expert people in the field to explain and give soil according to the plant. Whereas online, you can make your choice based on the review, rating, and the right mix mentioned in the label. With whatever way of buying the soil, adding some soil conditioner will help for the betterment of the plant as well the soil.
In case of choosing a Commercial soil, select any brand Organic Potting mix of your choice.
Tip 4: Avoid using soil that contains pests, fungi, and diseases for your Potted Tomato plants.
How to Select the Right Pot for Tomato?
Picking the right pot for a Tomato is crucial because of its weight and nature. The right pot for a Tomato is categorised by the size and material of the pot.
The pot for the plant can be plastic, ceramic, or wood. But the best one for Tomato is Terracotta because of its porous and well-draining quality. This will be very helpful to avoid over-watering plants.
The Size of the Tomato can not be fixed. There is no perfect size pot for plants. Giving the plant a pot that is two sizes bigger than the plant will be good. Provide the tomato crop with a big pot cause they grow fast.
What is the Best Way to Plant a Tomato?
The First step is to choose the variety of the plant. Some plants grow best in small places and some need grounds or raised beds. Depending on that, there are ways to plant tomatoes. Let us discuss the Planting Potted tomato plant,
- Fill the pot or container halfway full with potting mix and fertiliser for the soil.
- Place the root bottom of the plant with ⅓ of the stalk into the soil. This way you can make sure the plant root structure is sturdy for growth.
Use the necessary protective gear and shovel while planting or repotting the Tomato plant.
Why is the Potting Soil too Strong for Tomatoes?
The Potting soil is too strong for tomatoes at the early stage of growth. At the early stage, the plant needs more nutrients to grow which can be added to the potting mix. But after growing a potting soil can be used along with nutrients in it. Tomatoes need soil that is right in nutrients and potting soil may not just be enough for them. Adding a water-soluble fertiliser or slow-release one will do the work. Potting can be used at every stage of the Tomato plant but using it with the right amendments will make the soil doable.
Tip 5: When using the Topsoil for your Potted Tomato plants, sterilise the soil before planting tomatoes.
What is Better for Planting Tomatoes: Compost or Potting soil?
Compost is better than Potting soil for planting Tomatoes. Compost is a valuable fertiliser that is a mixture of decomposed vegetation and waste. Unlike any other plants or crops, tomatoes grow directly in pure compost. This quality will encourage home gardeners to use compost rather than Potting soil.
On the other hand, Potting soil is also a good choice to grow tomatoes in Pots or Containers. The soil is lighter than garden soil and well-draining than compost. Even though some store-bought potting soil contains compost, they also have equal or more draining ingredients in it. Some varieties of a tomato plant may need more compost than others. So, both compost and potting can be used to grow Tomatoes but for planting Compost is an ideal choice.
My Verdict is that picking the right variety is equally important as selecting the right soil for the Potted Tomatoes. No matter which way of cultivation, they will succeed and yield abundant fruit if all of it is cultivated in the right soil for the plant.
Can I use Coffee Grounds for Tomatoes?
Yes, you can use Coffee grounds for Tomatoes as they are a good source of nitrogen for the plant.
Is it Better to Grow Tomatoes in Pots or on Land?
Tomatoes can be grown in both Pots and land but make sure they either give enough space for the plant to grow.