Tomatoes, Which of 4 Possible Available Soils?

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I'm in the Baltimore, Maryland, USA area, around 40 N. latitude. A nearby garden shop is selling quantities of soils, 3 Cu. Yd's. minimum order. Beside a variety of flowering plants my wife is interested in re-potting (we do have a small quantity of potting soil), I'd like to grow some tomatoes, maybe green peppers, not a large number, not sure what else. We did have a mostly tomato garden years ago, now taken over for water gardens and flowering plants. I just want to throw a raised soil (mix?) in one sunny area to grow the tomatoes, peppers, whatever.
Question is what soils might be most useful - I can order them in separated "batches", to be mixed or not as I chose. The soils available at the shop are mushroom, compost (leaf), topsoil, and garden soil (I think has some sand content)- pretty vague terms I know - order of the above is cheapest to most expensive. Googling for tomatoes/soils has made my head spin - sounds like any of the above would be OK depending on what I find the soils acidity might be, since I know I need a slightly acid medium, possibly with some handfuls of limestone thrown in. Any comments from you folks would be appreciated.
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Go with the mushroom & till it in well.

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I would try to keep my soil at a pH of 6 to 7. Don't put lime on it unless you want to raise the pH above that. Just remember that if you get the pH too high the only thing you will be able to grow is weeds. Add sulpher or compose to keep the ph down. Blueberries, for example, need the pH around 5 - 5.5 to do their best. Maybe the others can give you better information.
Dwayne

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Dwayne wrote:

Thanks - I'd only use lime after checking the pH (If I can find a kit I can trust) to provide calcium (and magnesium?) enough to prevent blossom end rot. I do see, at http://www.americanmushroom.org/compost.htm , the statement that the soil pH is (around?) 6.8, but that they recommend a 50/50 mix with it and "soil". I'm afraid to Google too much, possibly causing explosive brain farts from information overload :-(
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Dan Wenz wrote:

Then I see:
http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/blueberrybulletin/2003/bb-v19n21.pdf "The 8.2 soil was due to the use of mushroom soil incorporated into the planting hole.". So, with no further ado or Googling, a pH test is needed for me to be sure.
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Just watched a show earlier today about tomatoes. So before I forget what I watched... 1) Start tomatoes out in peat pots. 1a) Stick a bamboo support stick into the place for planting. 2) When the stems are about 9" high trim some of the lower stems off the plant. They indicated that tomatoes have an ability to grow roots off of any part of their stem. 3) Dig a 6" or 7" deep hole, the peat pots are only like 3" high. 4) Throw half a handful of lime into the hole. 5) Put the peat pot into the hole. 6) Start filling the hole with soil. An extra three or so inches of the tomato will be buried so it'll stand maybe 6 to 7" out of the soil now. 7) Add a water line along the top of the soil which alows watering only the roots and provides a slow constant supply of water. I don't know what the line was called, perhaps someone else can help me out here. It seems to provide a constant drip I imagine. 8) Add some composted soil to the top to cover the line and create a small hill. 9) Add a wire cage around the top of the plant for it to grow up. 10) Water well the first day.
They mentioned a purpose for the lime, and they indicated that you don't want the lime to come in direct contact with the roots, so it's placed in first and covered with some soil, before putting the peat pot into the hole.
-- Jim Carlock Please post replies to newsgroup.
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Jim Carlock wrote:

i believe they were talking about "dolomitic limestone" this provides calcium for the maters so they don't suffer from blossom-end rot
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Thanks much. You wouldn't know what the drip line might be called? It was a black hose (about an inch in diameter) and they mentioned it provided a slow steady supply of water throughout the day to the roots.
-- Jim Carlock Please post replies to newsgroup.
Jim Carlock wrote:

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Soaker hose or drip irrigation.
--
Susan N.

"Moral indignation is in most cases two percent moral, 48 percent indignation,
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STEPHEN PEEK wrote:

yes, I'd go with mushroom too. For next year, get some manure delivered for the tomatoes.
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simy1 wrote:

Thanks, with 8 grandkids the manure part shouldn't be a problem :-) I also know several old farts who might help the process along!
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Dan Wenz wrote:

you could make this real simple and just plant the dern maters :) if you make your first bit of gardening that much work then what's the point? do a little research to keep it fun then just plant, grow then EAT!
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Joe wrote:

Not my first try (I'm 71!), but the first try in area never dugup which is VERY poorly drained HEAVY (chunks of real kiddie-type clay) clay soil, since the original garden of many tomatoes (Is that "e" supposed to be there!?) is long gone (started around 1967). I intend to raise a bed well above the ground level - that and the wife's need for more gardening soil has fueled the want for more soil. Some have recommended mushroom soil, but that appears to have a too high pH for 'matoes, so it'll require mixing with other amendments. With a long-unused chemistry major in my head, I have this costly desire to play with things like pH (Boy, I could sure use a professional pH meter :-)) and various soil mixes, but would rather have some anecdotal input, which has taken place, thanks to all. Now if I could just chop down that oak tree just south of the proposed tomatoery ;->
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Dan,
I welcome sharing thoughts with you regarding chemistry. My background is more medical direction, but am always happy to entertain chemistry discussions.
Warning: I am not plant expert. Soil chemistry seems to be very well evolved science (many books), although, there is a lack of basic instruments in most plant supply shops, such as pH meters. They do not even sell litmus paper, usually. Following the recent threads on tomatoes, which parallel my tomatillo project, you would think soil pH meters would be more common in plant shops. By comparison, plant shops have an endless supply of thermometers, an item easily found pretty much everywhere.
I am curious, not being much of an expert in gardening, what cool tricks gardeners have devised to measure soil pH? Dyes from many flowers could be used, for instance.
Dominic-Luc Webb
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Dominic-Luc Webb wrote:

I have some litmus paper here, but too course a range for what I want to measure. Fooey on buying a pH meter, though I did come close to it several years ago - new gadgets are almost always welcome here. One would need a system of testing, if litmus paper were to be used, for the soil - so much dirt (Using the old wine measurement balance) and so much water, etc. I don't know how good the usual soil test kits are, will Google that post-vacation. I could do that whilst eating some of the local grown fresh tomatoes :-)
I intend to send a sample of soils I'm interested in using to the State Agricultural Extension Agent for a pH determination and also ask what (relatively) low cost choices might be available for pH measurements, maybe using the same test kits we use for hot tub pH measurements. Any more activity will have to wait until after vacation time, 6/11 - 27, including Googling, which is starting to hurt my head, as I've also been searching for a good flashgun to replace my glued together gun which must be over 30 years old by now. Time to spend thinking about what to pack, camera(s) and film, etc.
Until then, happy growing!
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in article snipped-for-privacy@uno.canit.se, Dominic-Luc Webb at snipped-for-privacy@canit.se wrote on 5/30/05 7:28 AM:

I have a pH meter for my hydroponics. I am about to give up on it because the electrodes do not last long enough to cover their high expense. When I have gone through my supply of electrodes, I will rely upon pH paper.
In regard to paper, I find the Hydrion paper to be almost useles because the printing for color matching is so atrocious as to be almost useless. there are other papers of higher qiuality, and cost, using multiple indicator dyes, that I will use. I can get 300 strips for the price of one electrode.
One problem with pH tedstiong of soil is that you count on the buffering to maintain the pH as the soil is mixed with water. I do not understand that process at all.
There are gadgets you can buy in garden stores that purport to measure pH. I have my doubts.
Bill
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Agreed.... I think when we talk about pH in the soil, it is akin to a differential equation in which you have a dynamic process. The pH at any given moment depends on the amount of water, because the water will dictate the nutrients that are bound to soil particles or in solution. I would expect this to vary with rainful and evaporation. Maybe the pros specify pH in terms of parameters like water potential and cc's of water per liter of soil, or some such. pH by itself without further specifications seems an inadequate characterization.
I have thus far measured pH by collecting a soil sample and running tap water through the soil. I collect the flow-through and I look what has happened to the pH of the water before and after it was added to the soil. I only add enough water to get sufficient volume to measure with a lab pH meter. We can say from a liter of soil I add enough water to collect 20 ml. It is helpful, in a separate experiment, to weigh the soil before and after draining to measure the maximum water it can hold.
Dominic
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Dan Wenz wrote:

Sure it is, Just ask Dan Quail. He even uses the "e" with the singular.
Steve
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Dan Wenz wrote:

understood, so when you gonna plant them dern maters ??? ;)
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Joe wrote: >

Going to shove into the nearest hunk of diggable dirt and continue the "research" effort upon our return from vacationing from June 11 to the 27th :-) When we first moved into the present home lo those many years ago when we and the earth were young, almost every hole we dug for young trees required a pick and shovel operation - not my idea of fun!
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