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Soil for tomatoes, prepared at home in compliance with agrotechnical standards, has an advantage over the ready-made mixture from the store, since manufacturers do not always approach the issue of the composition of specialized soil with full responsibility. The optimum acidity of the soil should be no more than 6.7 pH, however, during the formation of soil and mass in industry, this indicator often has serious errors.
What kind of soil do tomatoes like?
It is not enough to take ordinary garden soil, mix in it, in arbitrary quantities, nutrients, and then wait for healthy and fertile plants to grow in this unthinkable substrate. So that the seeds do not have to spend additional energy to break through to the surface of the soil, and the young shoots have enough energy to meet the development time, the soil mixture must be well balanced and meet the following standards:
- organic matter in the soil for sowing should be much less than other micronutrients, otherwise the entire force of tomato seedlings will be spent on building up the green mass to the detriment of fruiting;
- the soil for tomato seedlings, before entering the sowing containers, is decontaminated so that, in conditions of constant humidity, it does not provoke the growth of fungal infections or the invasion of insects;
- tomato seeds are planted only in loose, "breathing" soils;
- not allowed for planting seeds of soil with a high level of acidity.
If you plan to form the composition of the soil mixture with your own hands, it is better to stock up on earth in the fall and then process it against insects and harmful microorganisms.
Optimal components for soil mixtures
Soil for tomato seedlings includes basic elements that are invariably present in any filling, additional ones, represented by a large number of names of nutrients and loosening substances, as well as auxiliary ones - various deoxidizers and stabilizers that improve the properties of the components.
When the question arises of what soil to take as a basis, many gardeners take land right on their site.
But due to the low level of nutritional value and the strong saturation of such soil for seedlings with traces of fertilizers of all past years, this base does not carry much benefit for the tomato. They love sod or leafy tomatoes, which go equally well in greenhouses and in seedling boxes. Such a soil for tomato seedlings is considered ideal, only you need to make sure that the soil material is not collected near trees that enrich the soil with tannins - you cannot plant seedlings in such an aggressive environment.
Peat is an indispensable component of the earth for tomato seedlings. It provides a balanced moisture exchange and has a high air permeability, but it cannot be added to the soil for tomato seedlings in pure form, since peat instantly forms an acidic environment. Dolomite flour, lime, chalk will help bring the acid balance of the soil to a neutral state. After mixing the additives, the soil for tomato seedlings is sifted so that lumps of peat do not get entangled in the roots of the seedlings.
Coarse, washed river sand is the main baking powder for both home and hand-made soil. Before using sand in the soil for tomato seedlings, it is calcined in a pan or doused with boiling water, and then dried in the oven. In some cases, the sand is replaced with perlite.
Humus is also the basis of the soil composition, but its origin should not be associated with the presence of animal waste. Only a thoroughly rotted substrate of leaves, weeds, branches is suitable. Before the introduction of the component into the soil, humus is removed from large lumps and sieved.
Sometimes, instead of sand and even peat, sawdust, needles from coniferous trees, boiled with boiling water are added to the soil for tomato seedlings. Coconut substrate is used less often, but its basic components in the soil should not be completely replaced.
Secrets of preparing specialized soil
It is impossible to say which of the recipes for preparing the right soil is better for seedlings, and which is worse. Each region is unique in the composition of its soil, therefore, what has a positive effect on tomato seedlings in the Moscow region may negatively affect the seedling of Irkutsk and vice versa. The only consolidated point of the guide, which will equally apply to all regions of the country at the same time, is the nuances of preparing the soil for planting in order to preserve the best properties of all components.
The preparation of the necessary material must be carried out in September-October. At the same time, manipulations can be made to sift and disinfect soil components. It is also better to buy ready-made soil during this period, since it is not a fact that it will be on sale in early spring.
Long before the sowing period, care must be taken to ensure that the seedlings are not in danger of infection with a fungus or death from the activity of insect larvae that may be present in the soil. Trouble can be prevented only by completely destroying the harmful microflora of the soil. There are several ways to do this without damaging the nutrient medium of the soil:
- the best way to disinfect soil is not "roasting", but processing the soil in a water bath, which lasts 1.5-2 hours;
- the second gentle way is to freeze the finished mixture, or only the soil, which is achieved by removing bags of soil for the whole winter in an unheated room (garage, shed, balcony)
- preparative soil disinfection with iodine (4 drops of iodine per bucket of water) or 1% manganese solutions.
1-2 weeks before the introduction of planting material into the soil, the already treated and sifted soil mixture is well spilled with a special agent containing colonies of beneficial bacteria to increase the nutritional value of the substrate.
What soil do tomatoes need
About a week before planting tomato seeds for seedlings, the soil is sorted out again well, sifted through a large sieve and begins to creative work - drawing up a soil mixture. It is necessary to select a soil that meets the needs of the region in advance.
Below is a quick checklist showing the required proportions of the soil components.
- River sand, two types of peat (lowland and top) - 1 part of each ingredient;
- Humus and sod soil - 3 parts each, perlite (1/2 part) and river sand (4 parts);
- Upper peat (10 parts), river sand (5 parts), ash (1 part);
- Sawdust (10 parts), river sand (5 parts), ash (1 part) and for every 10 kg of the mixture - 2 teaspoons of any nitrogen feeding;
- Pine, deciduous needles (10 parts), sand (5 parts), ash (1 part).
Peat, by default, creates an acidic pH environment in the soil that is not suitable for growing tomatoes, however, it is difficult to abandon this component, due to its high value for tomato seedlings. In advance, you need to take care of lowering the acid level of the soil to which peat has been added, mixing available deoxidizers into the finished composition.
For depleted, poor soil, dolomite flour is suitable, since it itself is already a self-sufficient fertilizer. Compositions in which fatty chernozem is present respond well to chalk or lime neutralizers.
What land is not suitable for tomatoes
If ordinary black soil is taken as the basis of the soil mixture, one cannot choose one that covers areas near large construction projects, factories, cattle farms or highways. The presence of clay in the soil for tomato seedlings will make it heavy and viscous, which will make it almost impossible to form an even, healthy seedling.
Any organic matter in the soil for tomato seedlings, especially not completely decayed and still aggressive, can destroy the seed material even before germination is indicated. This is due to the release of particularly high temperatures by bacteria, which ensure the decomposition of the product in a short time.
Often, using purchased soil, gardeners do not pay attention to the life of the finished mixture, and in vain. The peat present in the soil, even if its initial characteristics were good, over time begins to actively release heat, which dehydrates the seeds. In addition to checking the expiration date on the package of soil, it will be useful to look at the seams of the cellophane packaging at the time of the divergence of the adhesions - such a mixture will also be considered spoiled.