There are two methods for improving your soil for growing tomatoes or any other vegetable:
1. In the spring when the soil is dry enough to work you can add various soil amendments that collectively will benefit your tomatoes
2. Every time you plant a tomato, or any vegetable for that matter, you can add certain amendments to benefit the growth of your tomato plants
Amend Soil In Spring Before Planting
It is easier to work with your soil if you have raised beds, especially boxed raised beds. The procedure:
1. Loosen the soil with a U-bar Digger, spading fork, or hand grubbing tool.
2. Spread the amendments you have chosen in an even layer over the soil.
3. Work the amendments into the soil with a garden rake.
Popular and effective options to add to your garden’s soil include:
• Commercial Organic Matter - Compost/ sphagnum peat moss/ Fafard aged pine bark soil conditioner, composted manure
•Organic Matter From Kitchen - Coffee grounds/ finely crushed egg shells, blended garbage used in sheet composting.
•Mycorrhizal fungi and Bacillus subtilis bacteria or any other beneficial bacteria
•Kelp –acts as a hormone / adds micro-nutrients
•Fertilizers – Only slow release organic granular fertilizer
Amend Every Time You Plant A Seedling
If you did not attend to the soil in which you plan to grow tomatoes and other vegetables already, planting time is the perfect opportunity to improve the soil in your garden.
So, whenever you dig a hole to plant a seedling you can amend and loosen the soil either by removing the soil from the hole or just loosening the soil first before you insert your trowel. There are three amendments that we use every time we set a seedling into the garden – compost, Mychorriza, and beneficial bacteria. A tablespoon of each is sufficient.
What Does Compost Do?
Good quality compost adds humic acid and enzymes that break down minerals, also referred to as micronutrients, into a liquid form that plants can use. The humic acid in compost helps produce a gelatinous substance that binds minerals and organic material together turning chunky soil into that gorgeous soft crumbly stuff that can bring can a gardener like me to tears.
It’s also home to many beneficial organisms that become part of the soil food web, the underground community that returns Natures detritus to the soil. Without this incredible underground food chain man would have been buried in his own trash eons ago.
What Are Mychorriza?
Because I want to get the most out of my garden I also add Mychorriza, a beneficial fungi that attaches itself to the roots of a plant and helps it get moisture and nutrients from the soil. I use the product Thrive for this job. I drench the soil with Thrive.
Mycorrhizal fungi have occurred naturally in the soil for 400 million years. They form a close symbiotic relationship with plant roots. They are called mycorrhizae (from the Greek “mukés”, meaning fungus, and “rhiza,” meaning roots).
However, in most soils that have been disturbed by residential construction, or intensive cropping practices with applications of fertilizers containing pesticides and other chemical products, the mycorrhizae content has considerably diminished, and has become insufficient to significantly enhance plant growth.
When mycorrhizal fungi colonize the plant’s root system, they create a network that increases the plant’s capacity to absorb more water and nutrients such as phosphorus, copper and zinc. This process in turn enhances growth and favors rapid development of roots and plants.
What Are Beneficial Microbes?
To increase the beneficial microbe count I also mix in a teaspoon of microbial material in the form of Plant Growth Activator from Organica. Organica Plant Growth Activator is specifically formulated to promote the establishment and enhance the viability of annuals, bulbs, perennials and turf.
This unique natural product contain beneficial soil microorganisms and natural plant extracts that function synergistically to improve soil biology and promote healthy plant growth. Promoting and maintaining healthy soil biology is the key to successful gardening at any level.
There are lots of products on the market today that contain these beneficial organisms, so we need to spend some time in our local garden centers checking out what’s new