If you’re planning to grow tomatoes, you’ll most likely receive a ton of different tips on how to get the best harvest. One particular piece of advice is to amend your soil before planting tomatoes. Why?
The idea behind amending your soil is to provide your plants with the nutrients they need for a better crop of fruits. This is a practice vital for gardeners with smaller plots, or for those whose properties make it challenging to rotate their planting beds.
But what are the best soil amendments for tomatoes to use for better planting? Read on to learn what to use as soil amendments, as well as a quick guide on how to amend your soil in preparation for your tomato plants.
Soil Amendments For Tomatoes
Tomato plants are deep-rooted heavy feeders, thriving in highly-organic soils. Because of this, you need to prepare its grounds well with nutrients, so your plants will be sustained throughout its growing season. That way, the soil will optimize your plants’ growth and how it develops fruit.
There are various “recipes” when improving your soil with organic matter, and these are some of the popular and effective ones:
1. Fish Heads
Fish heads are great to boost your tomato plants’ ingredients. You can even add a kelp meal to this soil amendment option for more nutrients.
If you have no fish heads, you can opt for frozen fish fillets, which also work fine. Use one fish head era handful of fish fillets with kelp meal for results. You can use fish heads or fillets from the supermarket freezer section, which works excellently.
2. Crushed Eggshells
Crushed eggshells can add calcium to your soil and spread to tomato plants. This would prevent the blossom end rot.
Before placing it to your soil, make sure you rinse your eggshells and keep them in a bowl in your fridge, or protected outdoor spaces. When you’re able to use the eggshells, crush them using your hands or a potato masher, throwing in a few handfuls in every hole.
3. Bone Meal
Bone meal is another great option, as it promotes stronger roots growth with more abundant blooms. When using bone meal, you can just add one handful in every hole. You can find bonemeal sold in stores.
4. Compost or manure
Composted manure would provide a slow release of nutrients through the growing season, while compost provides basic nutrients, improving the soil structure. This will help improve soil drainage while still retaining some moisture.
Add up to three handfuls of compost and composted manure in every hole. It will work for tomatoes and many other plants.
5. Other Excellent Soil Amendments For Tomatoes
Besides what was mentioned above, there are various other soil amendments for tomatoes you can use.
For instance, you can use aluminum sulfate, elemental sulfur, organic mulches, or sphagnum peat if you’d like to lower the alkalinity levels of your soil.
When you want to raise the pH to lessen its acidity levels, you can use limestone or lime. However, avoid using too much lime to prevent worsening your soil quality.
For adding more nutrients, you can opt to use banana peels, organic plant-based kitchen scraps, or even coffee grounds. These would add calcium, phosphorous, potassium, among other natural vitamins and nutrients to your soil for better growth.
How to Amend Soil For Tomatoes
Now that you know about the effective soil amendments for tomatoes, the next question is: How can you use them for amending soil to ensure your tomato plants have a healthy environment? Follow these simple steps and tips:
- Make sure you amend the soil during the fall before you plant, which helps keep your plants well-fed the entire season.
- Start by digging a hole that’s about two feet wide, pouring water into it. Wait for about two hours for the water to drain.
- If the water doesn’t drain within two hours, loosen your soil to a depth of around 12 inches. Then, add three inches of your compost, three inches of garden soil, and three inches of decomposed pine bark to your top layer of clay soil. You may add other amendments as you wish for better nutrition, basing on the list above.
- Till the soil and amendments until everything is well-blended. Afterward, test your soil’s pH levels using a home pH tester, collecting the pH data from eight areas of your planting site.
- Next, add about 40 pounds of dolomite lime for every 250 sq. ft. of acidic soil, or 15 pounds of sulfur for every 250 sq. ft. of alkaline soil using a drop spreader. If you have no drop spreader, add five pounds of lime for every 100 sq. ft. As mentioned, you may add other amendments as needed or preferred.
- Apply four inches of compost on top of your soil, tilling it to about ten inches deep. Till around 100 pounds of compost for beds that are eight feet long and over two feet wide.
- Prepare fertilizer or create your fertilizer by mixing one pound each of cottonseed meal, feather meal, hoof and horn meal, and kelp meal in one large container. Then, add two pounds of bone meal and stir your fertilizer properly using a wooden spoon. This is good for a garden bed measuring eight feet long and over two feet wide.
- Spread your fertilizer mix on your planting site, tilling it until it’s about eight inches deep. And you’re done!
If you want to learn more tips about amending your soil well, check out this informative video:
Wrapping It Up
There are various options to choose from when amending soil, and it may take some trial and error before you see the results you want, as well as what works best for you. Regardless, it will all be well worth the time and investment with your tomato yield improving in the long run!
I hope that this guide on soil amendments for tomatoes helped you out! Utilize any of these steps and options to prepare your soil for successful planting and harvest now.