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Ask a Gardener - Tomato Soil

June 8, 2015

 

What is the best soil to plant tomato plants in Colorado? 
- Patricia

 

Patricia,
Soil preparation is so important in any gardening project, especially growing tomatoes and veggies.  The healthier your soil is, the healthier your plants and the bigger your harvest will be.    

 

One of the first things to consider is the soil’s pH level, its acidity or alkalinity.  You can test this with a simple home test kit.  The pH scale runs from 0 to 14.  Soil with high pH (7.5 – 14) is said to be alkaline, while soil with a low pH (0 – 6.5) is said to be acidic.  Generally, our soils tend to be more on the alkaline side of things.   This affects the availability of nutrients and the activity of microorganisms is the soil, which can in turn affect how certain plants grow.  Tomatoes prefer soil that is slightly acidic, with a pH of around 6 to 6.8.  However, they will tolerate a pH of up 7.5.  


Soil density and composition are also important.  Tomatoes like a light, well-drained soil.  The perfect soil will stick together when you squeeze it in a fist and then easily crumble away when you open your hand.  Most of our Colorado soils contain clay, which is heavy and sticks together.  Clay can restrict water and air circulation to tomatoes roots, which can lead to problems like Blossom End Rot.

So, tomatoes like light, acidic soil and we have heavy, alkaline soil.  What’s a gardener to do?  The best way to improve your soil for tomatoes is to mix in organic compost.  This will improve the physical properties of the soil while also introducing beneficial organic material.    There are many different types of compost available, or you can make, but we recommend Colorado’s Choice B.O.S.S. (Bio Organic Soil Supplement) B.O.S.S. is a mixture of organic compost and peat moss.  The compost will improve the physical and nutritional composition of the soil and the peat moss can help lower the soil pH.  B.O.S.S also contains mychorriaze; beneficial microorganisms that help plants absorb more nutrients and water from the soil.  

Dig up your garden soil about one to one and half feet deep and mix in B.O.S.S. about half and half with your existing soil. 

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