In order to grow the best organic tomatoes possible it is important that you use the correct potting mix to really get things started. This is going to make sure that the seeds or seedlings are getting all of the correct nutrients right from the outset and this is known to then make a difference to not only the quality of the plant that you then grow but also the crop of tomatoes that are then going to appear on the different plants.
However, how do you make the correct healthy potting mix? What do you need to do? Well, the answer is certainly a lot more straightforward than you think.
1. Why Healthy Potting Soil is so Important.
If we can begin by discussing just why healthy potting soil is so important to help you to better understand the need for you to get this part right.
A healthy potting soil will be light, able to cope with moisture without sticking together or drying out too fast, but at the same time it allows air to flow through it to the roots and provides the roots with a stable environment for them to work themselves into. You should also know that it must contain the correct mix of nutrients as those are going to work their way to the roots and really encourage better growth. In other words, there is more to it than just getting some kind of soil and throwing it into a container.
It is important to remember that growing tomato plants in containers is going to be unnatural for them and that does mean that you do not want to then create an additional sense of an unnatural environment due to the way in which it will inhibit their growth.
The entire concept of the potting soil is that it creates the perfect system for the roots to grow and, at the same time, it does not go ahead and introduce any unwanted microbes into the soil that could stop the plants from developing as they should. You need to remember that plants and their roots are actually quite delicate, so anything that disturbs or upsets them is only going to result in restricted growth, something that should always be avoided.
2. Reasons Why you Must Make your Own Potting Mix
So, you now have an idea as to why it is so important for the tomato plant that you have the correct potting mix, but we need to further explore the reasons as to why taking this approach is such a good idea.
First, you have to remember that this mix is not just normal soil as that will have a tendency to stick together and cause all kinds of issues. Most quality potting soils are actually quite misleading in their name as it does not actually include soil as such. Instead, this is going to be a delicate balance of various ‘ingredients’ that includes both organic and inorganic material. However, we will go more into this in the next section where we take you through the process of how to make your own.
By mixing your own potting soil it is going to save you money especially as the individual ingredients are not that expensive especially when you take into consideration the amount you are able to get for next to no money. Now, buying a ready-made potting soil is going to be expensive for even a small bag and then you feel as if you are restricted as to how many tomato plants you can grow at any given time. Taking this alternative approach is certainly going to be better for your pocket.
In addition, as you are looking at making your own potting mix it does also mean that you are fully aware of what is going into it so there is a certain sense of having some control over the soil and its quality. It is recommended by all professional growers that you should never try to save yourself some money with this type of mix by purchasing the cheapest and the reason for that is never knowing what is actually in it.
However, you instantly remove that problem when you are making it by yourself.
Finally, with more control over what is going into the mix also comes the ability for you to know that you are creating the perfect growing environment for the roots, but only if you follow the correct instructions. Roots are very delicate and fragile and if you think that throwing in some soil straight from your garden is going to be sufficient, then think again. Instead, by mixing your own soil it does mean that you are able to include the perfect amount of drainage material and to just get the balance correct so that the roots can flourish in the way that they need.
Roots need light soil. They need air to be able to get to them and the moisture to not remain stuck forever. Getting the correct potting soil mix will make sure that this happens resulting in better tomato plants that throw out more fruit.
3. How to Make the Potting Soil.
We have kind of spent time stressing the importance of this potting mix so there may be one or two nerves as to how you can then go ahead and make your own. The good news is that it is actually a lot easier to do than you may have expected but we admit that it does require you to spend some time just following the instructions by the letter.
Step 1:- Ingredients.
First, you need to know what you are putting into it and generally speaking we recommend the following. Some peat moss, some perlite, some vermiculite, and sand. They are known as inorganic materials and they are important as are the organic materials which include compost or garden loam.
Step 2:- The mix.
Next, you need to get all of your ingredients and know the correct mix amounts for the soil. You should have one part of moss or sand for the bulk along with one part of perlite or vermiculite for drainage and one part of the organic material.
Step 3: Bringing it together.
Get all of the ingredients and put them in a wheelbarrow so that you are able to mix them together but at this point keep them separate. Use either your hands or a garden trowel and you need to make sure that everything is well blended together.
Step 4: Dealing with moss.
You should take the moss and add it to water at a ratio of two parts of moss to one part of water. Allow it to soak (and you can use peat instead of moss if you prefer) until the water has gone.
Step 5: Add the other inorganic ingredients.
After soaking the moss you need to start mixing the other inorganic materials together.
Step 6: Organic materials.
Next, add the organic materials to the mix that you have started and blend everything together.
Step 7: Fertilizer.
If you are going to use the mix immediately, then add some fertilizer but make sure that it is a slow release as you do not want to overload this new mix with too many nutrients. Also, check that the fertilizer is suitable for tomatoes.
Step 8: Containers.
Finally, add the new mix to your containers and get planting those tomatoes.
4. Testing the Potting Mix.
Even though we just said that you should add the mix to your containers there is one other step that you might want to take into consideration before doing this and that is testing the mix.
You see, it is important that you have the correct balance in the mix as there is a bit more to it all than just throwing in some ingredients and hoping for the best. Instead, you should look at purchasing or using a greenhouse soil test kit and this is going to provide you with various pieces of information that will let you know if you have actually produced a quality mix in the first place.
What this kit does is it will assess the pH of the soil, the level of nitrogen in the soil, the level of ammonium, and the level of soluble salts. They will all play a role in determining the quality of the soil which is why you need to get them correct.
Furthermore, you should put some of the soil in a pot and then add water to see how quickly it drains. Keep an eye out for the water coming out of the drainage hole and then leave it for a day or two in the position where the tomatoes will be going to check how long it takes to dry out. If the soil feels too heavy, then it is going to stick together and hold onto the water leading to some problems. Too light, and it will dry out to quickly so this test is more important than you realize.
5. Easy Homemade Potting Soil Recipe.
Finally, here are some ideas of potential ‘recipes’ for homemade potting soil and we are not talking about anything too elaborate here either.
One possible mix is as follows:
1 bucket of peat moss.
1 bucket of perlite or vermiculite.
Half a bucket of cow manure or quality compost that has been screened for diseases.
2 cups of a very fine sand.
2 cups of a time release fertilizer.
This gives you a basic container mix and if you need to make more then you simply double all of the measurements as it is the quantity that makes the mix more than what is in it. There are other recipes that are out there that will include the likes of rock phosphate and even earthworm casings but they are slightly more elaborate and there is a chance that getting too complicated is only going to put people off trying to make their own mix.
So, there you go. Making a quality potting soil is going to make a massive difference to the size and strength of the tomato plants that you are then able to grow. As you can see, creating your own potting soil is going to be easy to do just as long as you follow the few simple steps that we have mentioned above. Get this correct and you will be richly rewarded and considering the time and effort that you are going to put into growing the tomatoes in the first place then surely this is something that is worth doing correctly from the outset?