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The Complete Beginner's E-Guide to Organic Gardening in NJ Zone 6 is now available for purchase. Learn more here.

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Controlling Weeds in Your Organic Garden
Chemical-Free Pest Control for Your NJ Organic Garden
Grow Better Tomatoes by Amending the Soil
"Winter Sowing Works" Amazon Kindle Book from Bohemian Reflections
Enjoy a Discounted Price on Our Newest E-Guide... Growing Herbs in NJ Zone 6
Determinate vs. Indeterminate Tomatoes
Growing Tomatoes from Seed
Buying Good Garden Soil in Hunterdon, NJ
What Type of Soil is Right for My Raised Garden Beds?
Growing Tomatoes for Sauce
NJ Tomato Growing: Organic Control of Aphids, Stink Bugs and Fruit Worms
Homemade, Home-Canned Salsa - Instructions and Recipe
NEW E-GUIDE! Preserving the Harvest: How to Can, Freeze, Pickle, Dehydrate and Cold-Store
Growing Garlic in NJ


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Grow Better Tomatoes by Amending the Soil

May 15 is coming and we're here in the Garden State! Do you plan to grow tomatoes this summer? It's so easy to just do the minimum, like pick up a couple of hastily-selected tomato plants from one of the big-box stores. But what if you decided to go all in with your tomato crop this year? You'd want to sow the highest quality tomato plants possible, of course.

Thinking ahead to tomato-harvesting season, what could you do with a wonderful selection of carefully cultivated tomato plants that bear succulent, meaty and tasty fruit?

Serve fantastic tomato salads every night, with healthy ingredients like avocado, olives, fresh mozzarella or feta if that's your fave. Brighten up salads with a splash of tangy vinegar or a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs for the final touch. What about sauces? If you had a bountiful tomato crop, oh, what a joy it would be to harvest bushels of tomatoes to make and can homemade sauce for the winter.

You may not have thought about this much, but soil amendments can be the key to growing your best-ever tomato crop here in NJ. What's the soil like where you live? Richy and loamy? Sandy? Red, with a higher clay content that doesn't hold water well? It takes just the right balance of nutrients to produce exceptional tomato plants. Soil, of course, is at the root of it all.

The basics of soil amendment

Improve the growing condition of your soil by either adding in missing nutrients or minimizing negative elements. Through this process of calculated addition or subtraction, you can create an ideal soil environment for your plants to thrive.

Some suggestions for doing this successfully:

Begin with a soil test. You can find a soil testing kit right at your local Home Depot, plant nursery or garden store. This is needed so you can test the pH of your garden soil. If the soil is too acidic or too alkaline, your tomato plants won't grow properly. With soil pH, a reading of 7 is neutral - halfway between acidic and alkaline. Tomatoes happen to prefer soil that's slightly acidic. So if your soil comes up somewhere between 6.0 and 6.8, that's perfect. Your tomato plants will need varying amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese to become healthy, vibrant and produce a good crop of fruit.

Amend the soil as necessary. If your soil is too acidic, limestone or lime (calcium carbonate) will raise the pH to keep your tomato plants happy. On the opposite end of the spectrum, organic mulch, sphagnum peat, elemental sulphur or aluminum sulfate will bring a too-high pH reading back down to the desired range.

Make your own compost. Your own kitchen contains some essential ingredients for creating the perfect garden soil amendments. Eggshells, banana peels, organic plant-based kitchen scraps and coffee grounds are excellent ways to add potassium, phosphorus, calcium and other vital nutrients to your soil. Eggshells, in particular, will increase the calcium levels in your soil which produces healthy tomato plants that bear good fruit. Be sure to rinse and dry the eggshells before adding them to your garden soil.

Consult a gardening expert. If you get confused about soil pH or aren't sure where to start, consult with your local county extension agent or Master Gardener before determining what amendments to use and in what quantities for your location.

Order our NJ Zone 6 Organic Gardening E-Guide and Encyclopedia of Veggies, Herbs and Companion Flowers

Gardening is easy... and it's also complicated. To become a pro, why not check out our Complete Beginner's E-Guide to Organic Gardening in NJ Zone 6. Now available in ebook format only, available for instant download via PayPal payment.



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Chemical-Free Pest Control for Your NJ Organic Garden

Grow Better Tomatoes by Amending the Soil

Growing Herbs in NJ Zone 6 Instant Download E-Guide

Determinate vs. Indeterminate Tomatoes

Growing Tomatoes from Seed

Buying Good Garden Soil in Hunterdon, NJ

What Type of Soil is Right for My Raised Garden Beds?

What Vegetables to Plant on May 15

Ode to the Turnip

Best Seed Catalogs

When and How to Start Prepping Your Garden Beds in New Jersey

When to Plant Early Spring Vegetables in NJ

Garden Planning in February? Yes! Get Ready for Spring Planting in NJ

Getting Your Raised Garden Beds Ready for Spring Planting

Is Rototilling Necessary? To Till or Not to Till Your NJ Garden Beds

Garden Planting Dates for NJ Zone 6

How to Plant Peas When There is Snow on the Ground

What to Do When You Miss Your Planting Date

Baking the Weed Seeds Out of Your Garden Beds

Planting Onions in Early Spring in NJ Zone 6

Broccoli Planting Instructions for NJ Zone 6

Sacrificial Carrot: How to Make Your NJ Carrot Crop Go the Distance

How to Grow Strawberries Organically

How to Plant Cucumbers in NJ Zone 6

Growing Herbs Successfully in NJ Zone 6

Spring Gardening in NJ: What to Plant on May 15?

Mid Spring Gardening Upkeep



Organic Composting Q&A

Mulch Q&A for Vegetable Gardens

Choosing a Fertilizer for Your Vegetable Garden

6 Quick Tips for Gardening Without the Use of Chemical Fertilizers or Pesticides



How Long Do Garden Seeds Last? Seed Viability Chart

How to Grow Vegetables from Seed

Growing Lettuce from Seed vs. Direct Sowing Lettuce

Growing Tomatoes from Seed