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Tomato Root Length - Soil

Posted by hdogg Utah (My Page) on
Tue, May 20, 08 at 13:52

Hi-

I planted 3 types of tomatoes, big boy, goliath, and celebrity....

what is the typical root length, how deep does the soil need to be loose? what types of fertlizer? should i mix it with the dirt?


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RE: Tomato Root Length - Soil

what is the typical root length, how deep does the soil need to be loose? what types of fertlizer? should i mix it with the dirt?

*****

Root length and how far down the soil needs to be loose are really two separate issues and I think that will become clear once you read the link I've posted below.

As to fertilizers, the first decision you have to make is whether you prefer an organic or inorganic type fertilizer and then folks can better answer you.

Some will reply that the first thing is to improve the soil every year so that no fertilizing is needed, but I wouldn't say that all "improved" soils are able to furnish everything the plants needs in the way of nutrients.

But improvinmg the soil is always a goal if one has the time to do so.

So, will it be organic or inorganic fertilizers you're looking for?

Carolyn

Here is a link that might be useful: tomato root length


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RE: Tomato Root Length - Soil

awesome article!!! inorganic fertilizers -- the kind you buy from the store.. pellets/miracle grow


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RE: Tomato Root Length - Soil

I'm using 10-10-10 but I have light, well drained soil and the nitrogen will wash out fast after the plants get started. In more retentive soils I'd go with 5-10-5.


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RE: Tomato Root Length - Soil

Carolyn, thanks for the article, but now I know that I am not as smart as I think I am. After a couple of quick readings I still an not sure concerning the relationship of root length and how far down the soil needs to be loose.

From that article:
"Deeper plowing than usual aids in securing a more deeply penetrating root system. Plants with deeply penetrating roots are most assured of an even moisture supply"

I assume that plowing is usually relatively deep and deeper than usual must be really deep.

From Fig 17 there is evidence that the majority of the roots were located in the first foot, but with many roots several feet down.

You wrote:
"Root length and how far down the soil needs to be loose are really two separate issues and I think that will become clear once you read the link I've posted below."

Sorry for being so thick, but what is your take on why loose soil depth and root length are separate issues? It would seem from the quote above that the article encourages deep plowing to accommodate deep roots.

I do note that the roots spread long and wide from the plant, therefore the soil should be made loose in a very wide circle around the plant. Charles Wilber (tomato record holder) goes a little further than most in that respect. He lays 8 flakes of hay around the tomato to keep the soil moist to the very surface and adds compost under the hay, encouraging the tomato roots to spread across the top of the moist soil.

Thanking you in advance for your input,
Gary


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RE: Tomato Root Length - Soil

You wrote:
"Root length and how far down the soil needs to be loose are really two separate issues and I think that will become clear once you read the link I've posted below."

Sorry for being so thick, but what is your take on why loose soil depth and root length are separate issues? It would seem from the quote above that the article encourages deep plowing to accommodate deep roots

*****

Note that the article was published in 1927. Most of the basic traits of the tomato life cycle were intensely studied in the 20's and 30's.

Plowing was different back then in terms of how deeply that could be done.

But the reason I said what I did is b'c you saw that mature tomato plants could have roots down to 3-4 ft and no one is going to dig a hole that deep to plant a tomato plant. YOu also saw how far the roots spread out laterally and I can't think of anyone who would also dig down and loosen soil out that far.

Modern plows go down about two feet and that's good enough for fibrous rooted plants that result from transplanting.

Make sense? ( smile)

Carolyn


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RE: Tomato Root Length - Soil

If you plan to grow on a residential lot you might want to dig a test hole a couple of feet deep just to see what the soil stratification is like. Here, the deep clay soil excavated for the basement was spread over the lot and then covered with topsoil and sodded so that we have about 6-8 inches of good dirt over top of several inches to a foot of clay/rock, which is over a couple of feet of good topsoil. If the clay layer is not penetrated and broken up with deep digging at least once the roots can't get down to the soil beneath and need a lot of water in the summer.


You might be interested in the doing a search for the "double digging" method of garden prep. If you do decide to hand dig a double dug garden I suggest, rather than digging a series of parallel row trenches and hauling the pile of dirt from the first strip to the far end of the plot to fill the last strip, dig a single trench in a U or W etc. so that the end finishes up near to the beginning where you have piled the dirt.

good luck with your plants


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