Tomatoes are absolutely delicious when grown correctly. However, with the wrong soil, they can turn out lifeless and sour. Not all soils are equal. In fact the soil is one of the most important things that determines the health and flavor of your tomatoes.
Our top recommendation is…
Growing tomatoes is not hard. They are hardy fruits that will grow in many different environments. However, if you want the healthiest and tastiest tomato possible, you will want to raise it in optimal conditions. You want the best soil, fertilizer, sun, and watering schedule. With all these factors in place you will have a beautiful and tasty tomato.
Buying the best soil possible can be tough because so many brands fill their soil with fillers that are cheap. The top soils on the market are not always found in local gardening shops. Please see our top recommendations as well as a mini guide for raising tomatoes below.
Here are the best soils that we recommend for tomatoes
Comparing Our Top 3 Recommendations for Tomato Soils
The Best Tomato Soils
These are the best soils for tomatoes. They us quality components that bring the perfect balance of aeration, proper drainage, and nutrients. Keep reading more about each one of them below.
Best Soils for Tomatoes
This potting soil from FoxFarm is specifically formulated to contain all the essential nutrients that plants such as tomatoes need to thrive. The soil also contains beneficial microbes and mycorrhizal fungi, both of which help to enhance the nutrient levels in the soil and aid in the growth of strong roots. In addition, this potting soil was designed to maintain a balanced pH. Tomatoes grown in this soil often grow more quickly and produce more fruit.
This organic potting soil contains bat guano, earthworm castings, crab meal, and pacific northwest sea-going fish, all of which pack the soil with the nutrients plants need in order to grow and thrive. The mix also contains sandy loam, forest humus, and sphagnum peat moss, which help to lock in moisture while also providing excellent drainage. The resulting soil mix is very light, which helps to keep the plant aerated and reduces the risk of root rot or root binding. In addition, the pH of this soil is designed to remain between about 6.3 and 6.8.
This organic potting mix from Burpee is made with coconut coir, which helps to retain moisture without becoming overly damp. This not only helps to reduce the risk of root rot, but it also ensures that gardeners will need to water less frequently. In addition, the growing mix is made with Burpee slow-release plant food, which helps plants grow more quickly by providing nutrients for up to three months. Tomatoes planted in this soil are often much hardier and generally have a better flavor.
This organic soil contains a perfectly balanced blend of coco coir, Canadian peat moss, perlite, blood meal, kelp meal, neem meal, guano, cottonseed meal, humic acid, lime, beneficial bacteria, and a range of other natural ingredients. Most of these ingredients are designed to significantly boost the nutrient level of the soil and can help plants thrive for months. The perlite and similar ingredients help to keep the soil aerated, while the lime maintains a balanced pH level. Overall, plants potted in this soil often have stronger stems and root systems and produce more delicious vegetables.
This potting mix from Espoma is completely organic and contains natural humus, perlite, and sphagnum peat moss. This combination creates a lightweight soil that aids in preventing root rot but also ensures great water retention, so there’s little risk of plants drying out. The mix is also fortified with Myco-tone, alfalfa meal, feather meal, earthworm castings, and kelp meal, all of which boost the nutrient levels in the soil. Gardeners who use this soil will find that their tomatoes have stronger root systems and are healthier overall.
Why You Need the Best Soil for Your Tomatoes
Tomatoes are notoriously easy to grow. However, there is a huge difference between good crop and excellent crop. I’m sure you’ve experienced an excellent tomato – imagine biting into a tomato that has a firm, yet fragile skin that splits open easily in your mouth and explodes with flavor and juice. It feels like it dissolves as you eat it and it fills your mouth with an intense and refreshing flavor.
If you want excellent tomato crop as well as yields then you will want to use the best soil and fertilizer possible for your tomatoes. The soil in which your tomato greatly impacts the ultimate taste. Furthermore, by using the right soil, you will eliminate most of the possible growing challenges that people have with tomatoes. Let’s review the soils that work best for tomatoes.
Types of Soil for Tomatoes
Tomatoes can grow in a multitude of soils—sandy soily, silty soil, loamy soil, and clay. Types of soils are classified by the amount of sand, clay and silt they have in them. Depending on the amount of each in your soil will determine how much water it can retain.
Tomatoes do best with loamy soils. Loamy soil contains about 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay.
Sand particles are the largest of the three. They do no retain water well, but their large size helps to create small spaces in the soil that promote aeration to your tomato’s roots
Clay particles are very fine. The pack tightly together. As you can imagine, this leaves little room for aeration. However, clay is a nutrient-rich component of soil
Silt has medium sized particles. Being the middle of the pack means that it falls somewhere between sand and clay. It holds onto nutrients better than sand and retains water better than sand. At the same time, it is easier to work with than clay soils and does not pack together as much.
What is loam?
Loam is a fertile soil of clay and sand containing humus. Loam soils generally can hold more nutrients, moisture, and humus than sandy soils. They also have better drainage and more aeration than clay-rich soils.
Technically, loam is a soil that contains sand, silt, and clay. Even though this seems easy enough to make, adding sand to your clay soil or vice versa will not create loam. Loamy soil is loose and falls apart in your hand. It also drains well and has great aeration. This is primarily due to the organic matter within the soil.
To turn your soil into loam, you will need to constantly work organic matter into your soil every year. The decomposing organic matter is what makes the loam drain well. The decomposing matter also draws beneficial organisms.
The soils above all fall under the category of loamy soil. Unless you will be planting fields and fields of tomatoes, it will probably be much easier for you (and you will obtain better results) just to buy loamy soil instead of trying to make it yourself.
Relatively Neutral Soil pH
pH is a scale to measure how acidic or basic a substance is. The scale ranges from 0 to 14 with a lower pH number representing a more acidic substance and a higher pH number representing a more basic number.
Tomatoes prefer a relatively neutral soil pH of 6.2-7.0. To be exact, this soil would be ever so slightly acidic, but overall is relatively neutral. Anything too much more acidic or basic will not result in the best growth for your tomatoes. All of the soils listed above have pH’s that fall within this range.
Pick a Sunny Spot to Plant Your Tomatoes
Tomatoes prefer full sun and are also healthier when they are areas that have good air circulation. Try not to plant your tomato plants too close together.
When you are actually planting your seedling, plant it deep. In fact, plant it very deep. Cover your seedling up so that two sets of leaves are showing. By doing this, you will ensure a larger root system, which will allow your plant to be more vigorous and hardy.
In the planting hole, consider adding 1-2 tablespoons of dolomite limestone. This will help fight rot in your emerging fruit. Cover the plant and water it thoroughly with a diluted fertilizer mix. This will get your tomato plant off to a great start.
Tomato plants like deep watering. I suggest using a soaker hose to allow the water to soak deep into the soil without getting the foliage wet. If you get the foliage wet, it puts your tomato plants at a higher risk for developing diseases. These soaker hoses can direct water straight into the soil around your plant and makes your watering job relatively easy.
Don’t over water, as over watering can lead to just as many issues such as root rot. There is no exact science when it comes to watering your tomato plants. It depends on the climate of your area (how hot or dry it is). You can water and monitor the soil for dryness. Depending on where you live, you may water once daily to 1-3x per week. Ideally, water in the early morning so that the sun can dry out the soil a little bit throughout the daytime.
Optional – Add Mulch
As your plant gets taller, you can consider adding mulch. The point of this mulch is to prevent soil pathogens from creeping up onto the foliage of your tomato plant. Place the mulch a couple inches from your stem and layer it so that it is 2-3 inches tall. You can also place your mulch directly over your soaker hose if you are using one.
Again, I recommend buying the FoxFarm’s Potting Soil. Don’t make the mistake of buy any average soil. You will end up with unimpressive tomatoes. Growing tomatoes with the proper soil and techniques will help you get the best and most delicious tomatoes possible.