Good tomatoes need the best soil to grow. Along with the proper nutrients that matter, plants need to have the right kind of soil texture.
The pH level of the soil matters a lot when it comes to the plantation of tomato plants. If you want to see a healthy plant with a better harvest, you need to get the soil’s pH level accurately.
But what kind of soil do tomato plants like? Tomato plants grow best in acidic soil. If the soil’s pH level is 6 – 6.5, it is the best soil condition for the tomato plants to grow.
But if you provide too much of an acidic environment to the tomato plant, the soil’s nutrients become less available. It slows down the growth process of the tomato plant.
Apart from the soil’s pH level, there are other factors that one needs to consider to grow the best quality tomato.
Certain kinds of soil additives can help to lower down or raise the pH level of the soil.
For reference, the neutral pH level of the soil is marked at 7. The tomatoes can grow in soil that marks outside the ideal pH range needed for tomatoes.
But to make the growth healthier, one must choose a soil that has an ideal pH range. Unacceptable levels of pH in the soil can affect the growth of the tomato plant.
Tomato is generally said to be an acid-loving plant. It thrives in acidic soil conditions. If the soil has little alkaline, then you will get an unhealthy harvest. Some of the tomato plants require a lower pH level than others. The acidic soil comes with a pH level below 7.
Let’s see some of the ways how the pH level of the soil affects the growth of the tomato plant.
Soil pH affecting the growth of the plant
If the soil consists of a lower pH level, then the soil tends to become acidic. A tomato plant requires an acidic environment, but if you provide a high acidic soil, it slows down the growth of the tomato plant. It can reduce the harvest of the plant. It happens because of nutrient deficiencies.
When the soil is too basic, it somehow causes problems due to the deficiency of proper nutrients. Symptoms during this condition include the rotting of the plant at the end of the blossom. Sometimes it also slows down the growth of the plant. The acidic condition of the soil reduces the ability of the plants to absorb proper nutrients from the soil.
According to the research, tomato plants tend to grow well in soil with a pH level of 5.7. Plants that grow in the soil with a pH of 4.2 yield better fruits. However, if the plant is grown with a soil condition with a pH of 6.2, it does not provide a good yield.
Hence, it is suggested that one can use various soil amendments to improve the soil’s pH level according to the needs of the tomato plant.
When the soil’s pH level rises above 6.5, the soil starts losing its iron content. It affects the growth of the plants in the most negative way. When the soil has a pH level of 4 to 5, it makes the three important nutrients less available. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are important for the growth of tomato plants. But when the soil is alkaline, these nutrients become negligible.
Along with these 3 nutrients, the tomato plant also requires magnesium for its best growth. Calcium becomes equally important for the plant to retain its health. If the soil lacks calcium, then the tomato plant will have blossom rotting.
Ways to adjust soil pH
You will find a variety of ways to adjust the soil’s pH level for the best growth of your tomato plant. Using the soil amendments will help move the soil’s pH level in the right direction—however, it adds proper nutrients to your soil as per your requirement.
But before you decide on changing the pH level of the soil, you must take a small test that determines the pH level.
The soil test will help you to know about the level of nutrients present in the soil. It will also tell you about the soil’s pH level; once you get the result of the soil test, you can estimate whether you need to add anything to your soil or not. The soil’s pH level ranging from 6 to 6.5 is the best for growing the tomato plant.
The first thing that you can do is to add compost. It is one of the best ways that helps to maintain the quality of the soil.
If you can add compost to your garden every year, it will provide you with the best kind of soil. Compost helps to increase the level of nutrients in the soil that further helps the plant to survive.
Along with that, the compost also adds organic material to your garden soil. Due to the organic material, one can get the various benefits of bacteria and earthworms in the garden. These biological species improve the structure of the soil and help the soil to drain in a better way. It even helps the soil to retain more water.
You can make your compost with the help of kitchen wastes. Just add falling leaves, vegetables, and fruits scraps, coffee grounds, or grass clippings into the soil to get the best result.
Raising and lowering the pH level of the soil
If you have soil with a low pH level, you will have to incorporate additives into the soil to raise the pH level. Some of the common soil amendments that you can use to raise the pH level include:
In other words, you need to use calcium carbonate. You can find this element in various objects, including antacids tablets or chalk. It counters the acidic level in the soil while increasing the pH. It is a source of calcium for plants.
- Dolomitic lime
It is similar to that of lime. The dolomitic lime consists of magnesium. It provides calcium to your soil. These are the two important nutrients that the tomato plant requires for its growth.
You can add calcium sources to the soil by composting eggshells, bone meals, or clamshells. If you can drown them into a fine powder and then apply it to the soil, it will give you faster results.
- Wood Ash
It consists of a lot of calcium. It will have a similar effect to that of line. Make sure that you do not use wood ashes that are treated with any chemicals. To lower down the pH level of the soil, you need to use various additives. There are few ways by which you can raise the acidity level in the soil. Here are some of the ways.
The elemental sulfur helps to lower down the pH level of the soil. It works slowly and tends to take a lot of time to show its full effect. Sulfur is one of the nutrients that your plant needs. Hence if you add sulfur to the soil, it emits the deficiency of sulfur in your soil.
Aluminum sulfate or iron sulfate lowers down the pH level of the soil. They work faster than that any pure elemental sulfur. However, if you tend to use too many sulfates in the soil, it can excessively increase the amount of aluminum and iron. It can cause various other problems to your tomato plant. Hence you need to be careful with the kind of dosage that you put into the soil.
- Ammonia-based fertilizers
Fertilizers including ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate will lower the pH level of the soil vigorously. They worked so fast that the quick change in the soil could burn down the plants. So, you need to be careful while you amend the soil with ammonia-based fertilizer.
Keep the soil pH ready
Luckily you get the right pH level of your soil you need to maintain the pH range. You can also add some amendments to the soil that helps to preserve the nutrients and the pH level of the soil. Here are some of the things that help to maintain the soil pH level.
Gypsum is commonly known as calcium sulfate. One can use this in construction. Moreover, you can use this in the garden to keep the pH level of the salt intact. Gypsum helps to add both sulfur and calcium to your soil. But it does not change the pH level of the soil.
- Epsom salt
You can add Epsom salt to the soil to increase the quantity of magnesium in the soil. Along with that, the Epsom salt helps to increase the level of sulfur for your tomato plant.
You can dissolve the Epsom salt in water and then spray it on the leaves of the plant. The salt would not change the soil’s pH level but make it ideal for the growth of the tomato plant.
When you know the various techniques of preparing the soil for your tomato plant, you can apply these and have a great harvest period.