Facts About Soil and Preparing Soil for Tomatoes

Facts about soil that are needed to know when preparing soil for planting.

Once the location has been selected, there should be a close water supply and ample sunlight to start a garden. Ideal soil should be light in weight, rich in color and texture with evenly balanced pieces of organic material throughout.

Facts about soil conditioning, drainage, PH and nutrient balances are key to setting up a garden with strong prevention practices. Many garden ailments can be prevented at this phase of creating a tomato garden.

Now it's time to get the dirty facts about soil!

If this is a new garden location there should be some existing top soil. Top soil could be anywhere from 2 inches to one foot deep. Don't assume this is the make up of the garden's soil. Lying beneath could be a sand, mud or clay consistency base soil. Mixing the top soil into the base is necessary for determining the proper Ph and nutrient balance for the garden.

Depending on the size of the plot, use either a powered roto tiller or a pointed garden hoe to mix things up. Generally it is best to turn the soil to a depth of one to two feet. So, dig deep when turning the soil. If the soil is a hard clay type, a pitch fork is a good choice for starting to turn the soil. A healthy tomato plant's root system can penetrate approximatley two to three feet deep.

There are a few reasons to prepare the soil in this manner. Look at the condition of the soil at it's deepest point. Whether there is rock, sand or mud, it will be important to know for drainage purposes.

Here's some very important facts about soil regarding tomatoes as well as other garden vegetables and herbs. They almost all prefer a rich, loamy soil. Sandy soil conditioning usually involves adding organic materials for nutrient and water holding ability. Clay type soil usually needs organic materials as well, but for different reasons. The organic material will keep the clay type soil from compacting, allowing root growth and drainage.

Understanding how well the area perks or drains is another of the key facts about soil that is very important. Standing water in the root system can be devastating to a garden.

Before planting can begin it's time to find out what kind of dirt this is. Dirt is dirt, right? Not exactly.

First is PH. Ph is the balance between something being acidic and alkaline. For example water and pure silica sand are neutral, neither acidic nor alkaline. Plants like their soil slightly acidic. Tomatoes as well as most vegetables, flowers and herbs require a PH of between 6.0 and 7.0.

Narrow that down to 6.5 to 6.8 for the ideal tomato soil Ph. If soil isn't in the ideal PH range, there are methods for raising or lowering soil PH.

How is soil PH determined? An inexpensive soil test kit should be available at a local garden center or on the internet. Most kits test both Ph and key nutrient balances as well.

Knowing the soil's nutrient balance is one of the facts about soil, equally as important as PH balance.

The three nutrients considered for soil balance are Nitrogen, Phosporus and Potash. N. P. K are the symbols used to represent each.

Visit a garden center and look at fertilizers for lawn and garden. Most show three numbers either in bold type, located on the front of the packaging or on the ingredient label as percentages.

The numbers can be all over the place, seemingly with no rhyme or reason. Numbers like; 20-10-5, 5-10-10, 5-5-5 and so on. These numbers represent the balance of the three nutrients in percentages.

Confusing? After spending years of trying to understand the thinking behind these numbers, it seems the companies producing these fertilizers are confused as well. Some are aimed at specifically raising or lowering nutrients. Others tout their product as the perfect balance for Tomatoes or whatever other lawn or plant life they are targeting.

Look at the fertilizer products on the shelf and you will find numbers as varied as shown above. These numbers are aimed at National or Regional customers.

Fertilizers designed for New Hampshire may not perform as well in New Mexico. Fertilizers used by gardners in one area may not be the correct balance for the soil in everyone's garden.

The solution is learning the balance of the soil in your garden. Do this by testing the balances and determine the facts about soil and how to adjust accordingly. Fertilizers come in either dry or liquid forms. Dry outsell liquids substantiously. A large portion are lawn products. Liquids have become increasingly popular. There is another way to enrich the soils nutrients with an added bonus. Composting.

Want to see a couple of real life examples of working the Soil?
These are good chemical and fertilizer free methods of preparing Soil.

Start over with a couple tons of dirt!

The soil that grew 20' tomato plants

Composting is piling up organic materials and letting them decay naturally. Many gardeners have highly evolved recipes with specific ingredients. Here's one of the best kept Compost Secrets.

Others use the "throw in whatever organic material you've got" method of adding materials. Compost piles are pretty easy to setup.

There are elaborate compost systems that can be purchased, but many gardeners build simple homemade versions that work fine.

A compost pile is usually placed in an out of the way area on the property. The reasons are; it's the only spot that has nothing growing, visually unappealing and the smell, one of the not so nice facts about soil, on a hot day can get strong. After all, it is essentially a garbage dump.

There are some maintenance issues involved. Close contact is required when turning over and incorporating the wonderful pot pourri. It sounds awful but as gardens go it is one of the better boosts a gardener can give plants. How about raising some red wrigglers to help out? That's right! Worms.

Here's a few ways to incorporate these little fertilizer machines into a compost pile and / or garden.

Buy a mess of them and place them strategicly throughout the garden and compost pile.

The next level in the world of worms, be it a little more involved, is the path to the finest fertilizer in all of gardening.

Worm/compost condos, as I call them, are complete worming compost systems, developed to raise worms. The byproduct is fertilizer of the highest quality. Having a naturally organic product that causes no chemical plant burn, is a great blossom booster, provides general plant nutrition and root developement.

Another plus is having more than enough worms to place into the garden and some left over for a little fishing. There is one more way to enjoy the benefits of worms without the hassle of handling those wiggly little fertilizer machines.

Vermipods are great for delivering natural fertilizer to a garden without the mess. Vermipods look like little round discs, but are worms cocoons enclosed in rich soil. The vermipods are capable of containing up to twenty worms each. Throwing them around the garden is another way to aereate and fertilize without all the mess.

A couple of other soils are used outside the garden.

Potting soil and seeding soil are available at garden centers everywhere. Potting soil is the mainstay of patio gardeners with no other soil options.

Seeding soil is for, as it says, seeding plants. This soil formula was developed to give seeds the platform needed to get them off to a strong start before being transplanted to the garden.

Becoming part of the soil may be our fate eventually, but if you'd like tempt fate at a Tomato Festival for the insane, they will be popping up across the country this summer! Find one near you!

Get ready! get set! go!

With all this talk about the facts about soil, is it possible that balancing soil's properties can improve the tomatoes flavor? The answer is yes! Tomato soil for flavor.

Want to start a garden using custom Dirt (soil)? Find step by step Soil, landscaping and gardening information in our Victory Garden Project Series

Looking for great tomato Recipes? Check the Everything Tomatoes Recipe List