Soil Test in Tomato Bed: Question

garystpaul(4)June 23, 2012

I've decided to do what I've never done but always intended to do, namely have my soil tested by the University of Minnesota agricultural extension dept. They have a home vegetable garden test for $15, which evaluates soil fertility (NPK), pH, and percentage of organic matter. For $5 extra, they'll also do a "soluble salt test," which analyzes for "problems due to excessive salts or fertilizer materials." Any of you with experience here: Do you think the soluble salts test would be worth doing?

I'm growing 90 tomatoes this year, 28 in-ground. It's soil from this bed I'll be sending in. The proximate reason for this is that, while healthy, these 28 plants seem to be lagging behind (based mainly on height) plants I gave to friends which have grown a good foot higher, though the fact that they were planted out 7 days earlier than mine may help to account for the difference. I grow tomatoes in this bed year after year, amending the soil with fresh compost each year (and this year with additional topsoil from raised beds elsewhere on my property). I don't really know if anything is "wrong," but I assume the soil test will help me assess that.

Thanks in advance for any advice or suggestions.


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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Do you think the soluble salts test would be worth doing?

There is the "might-as-well-get-it-done-at-the-same-time" school of thought. But personally, unless you have been using lots of MG-type high salt fertilizers OR lots of manures on the bed it isn't going to tell you much. If you have then it is well worth the money if only for the suggestions they give on how to reduce the salts.



    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 3:06PM
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Thanks, Dave, for the good advice. Any thoughts on why the in-grounders would be lagging behind those oithers (or, for that matter, my other ones in containers)?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 12:20PM
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microclimate of other tomato growing location
reflected heat from building, foundation, fence?

15 minutes away my dad's garden plants always produce sooner than mine despite planting times

my slower growth is due to cooler temps and some shade from surrounding fir trees

bonus is tomato companion plants continue to produce all summer long and lettuce stays sweet when I succession plant in the shade of other plants

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:33AM
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Gary. I have 22 plants in the garden and 3 in pots on my deck. The ones on the deck are in a mixture of ProMix, Manure/humus and garden topsoil. The ones on the deck grew much faster than the ones in the ground and are still ahead. The down side: The ones in pots need to be watered almost every day.
John A

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:50AM
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Thanks, Corrine and John; appreciate the input.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 3:41PM
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My ground tomatoes are far ahead of the containers in size, although the container tomatoes are fruiting earlier. I suspect it's due to pot size limitations. All in all though, I expect far more fruit from the ground, but the early havest the containers give you is nice.

Now peppers are different. They produce both earlier and more prolific in pots all around. At least in my zone.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 4:05PM
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Maybe its just something as simple as the a difference in the fertilizers your using. My neighbor put his plants in the ground about the same time as me but a lot of his plants are about 8' while mine are around 6'. He is using a 13-13-13 fertilizer he had and didn't want to buy any (he's kinda cheap) and I am using a 6-12-12. The higher nitrogen helps the plant grow but doesn't help with setting the fruit. While his are considerably taller he has picked maybe 20# while I have just passed 100#.

I did the soil test for vegetables before planting and amended the soil the way they recommended and I am very pleased with the results so far.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 12:34AM
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