Question from Fred:
We are a bit confused about what to plant our Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes in. I have a 10 gallon container and need to know whether to use potting soil or potting mix and whether the brand is important. Also, if I use potting soil what kind of fertilizer (or tomato food) should we use.
Answer from Pat:
Dear Fred, You perhaps attended my talk where I said to fill raised beds with topsoil not potting soil. This is correct. A raised bed is like a terrace and should be filled with topsoil which should be amended with organic soil amendments and fertilizer prior to planting every time you plant in order to maintain a good humus content. In other words you should treat a raised bed just like garden soil.
A 10 gallon container is different. This is a container, a pot in other words. In this case, plant in good quality potting soil. Potting soil is a man-made mix especially concocted for growing plants in containers. Garden soil as a general rule is not a good thing for filling containers. I hesitate to name brands since they change from time to time, but I can suggest this. Go to a good nursery and purchase a potting soil there. Do NOT purchase a sterilized potting soil. Sterilized potting soil has no active nutrition in it. Very often this product doesn’t even drain well.
After planting your tomatoes, keep them watered more frequently than you would if they were growing in the ground and fertilize them regularly with an organic fertilizer recommended for tomatoes. Liquid fertilizers work well if you can find an organic fertilizer recommended for tomatoes. If you decide on fish emulsion instead, then also spray the foliage with 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts mixed into a quart of water in a small hand-held sprayer. (Laundry-dampening type household sprayer.) Spray all over the leaves once or twice a week apart in the early morning or evening when the plant begins flowering. This will provide magnesium.
Also, make sure flowers are pollinated by wind, or if there is no wind shake the plants lightly in the middle of the day or bang the stakes with a hammer in the middle of the day. Tomato flowers are self-pollinated by wind, banging the stakes with a hammer does a great job of vibrating the flowers just right so the pollen falls of the male stamens and attaches to the female stigma.—Voila!—self-pollinated tomato flower that will not drop off the plant. (Cool temperatures can cause flowers to drop off early in the season. Fix that with tomato blossom spray.)
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