newbyplantlover
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Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:11 pm
Location: LA area

The best kind of soil for tomatoes?

Hello -

I am going to attempt to grow tomatoes in a container.

The container that I have is a half whiskey barrel. I picked it up from my brother-in-law, who wasn't using the one that was left with his new house. It did have dirt in it when I picked it up. The dirt appears to have been potting soil of some kind, as I can see the styrofoam flecks in it an so forth. Unfortunately, I have no idea as to how old the dirt is, and therefore how possibly depleted it is.

In addition to this, I live in MN. The naturally occurring soil up here is black. Perfect for farmland and so forth (which there is a lot of). The soil is very loose and loamy.

My question is: what kind of soil is best for growing tomatoes?

I am interested in growing organically, so any fertilizers or plant food I would like to be organic in nature. Is the dirt that was in the container safe for planting in - possibly adding some manure or compost to it? How about the naturally occurring dirt? I imagine it's good for planting in, but I don't know what the specific nutritional needs of tomatoes are, and what kind of soil I should be looking for.

Keep in mind that I am a 'newby.' I have never custom-mixed soils before, and I'm a little intimidated by that prospect. However, I'd like good soil for my tomatoes, so I'll try to listen well regardless. :)

Thanks for any helpful advice you can give!
Plants are just so happy.

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rainbowgardener
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

tomatoes in MN

I'm mostly going to let our soil experts around here answer your real question, just to say for tomatoes in containers you want very enriched soil. Some of your good topsoil, with a mixture of compost, composted manure, bonemeal (tomatoes need calcium, doesn't hurt to throw some eggshell in too), some vermiculite or something to lighten it and keep it aerated...

But what I was struck by was you saying "I am going to attempt ..." implying that you haven't started any yet. In MN you have first frost dates anywhere between mid-Sept and early Oct, depending on where you are. If you wanted to have much tomato harvest you needed to have tomatoes in the ground a month ago... If you go to a nursery and get good big tomato plants with baby tomatoes already on them, basically other people have been growing it for you all this time, it will make up some for a late start.

newbyplantlover
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Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:11 pm
Location: LA area

rainbow gardener -

Thank you for all the helpful advice! A month ago was before the last frost, though ... last frost here is the third week of May. I'll definitely be keeping that question in mind though. I have seedlings right now, but they're just on their second set of leaves. Huh. Thanks for the reply!
Plants are just so happy.

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rainbowgardener
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
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growing tomatoes in a short season

Your little tomato babies will barely have ripe tomatoes before your frost comes. Check out nursery grown ones and if you can (or next year if you start from seed) look for quicker maturing ones like Early Girl and Quik Pik. Homegrown tomatoes are wonderful, but they do take awhile. Here in zone 6, I start my tomato seeds indoors about Valentine's day, plant them outdoors early to mid April (at which point they are over a foot tall with sturdy stems and the first blossoms) and eat my first tomatoes late June. That means 4 months from planting seeds to eating tomatoes. So in a climate where your outdoor growing season is only about 4 months, a lot of it has to be done indoors.

newbyplantlover
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Posts: 85
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:11 pm
Location: LA area

Thanks again, rainbow

I'll definitely have to keep that in mind for next year. Am still contemplating what I should do this year. My seedlings are Campari, which I can't purchase in a nursery, so ... I'll have to decide what I should do. Thanks again!
Plants are just so happy.



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