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.
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.
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 :-(
Then I see:
"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.
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
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.
Please post replies to newsgroup.
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
Please post replies to newsgroup.
Jim Carlock 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!
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 ;->
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.
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!
in article email@example.com,
Dominic-Luc Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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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