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Old 02-08-2008, 09:20 AM   #11
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Last year I found a decent spot in my yard where the tomatoes thrived. I planted the romas and Early girls right next to eachother, but did not do anything to the soil. The Early Girls were great.

This year, I was going to build an 'actual' veggie garden since I found the right area. What would you recommend I till in to the soil?

BTW - The reason it took so long was because I fell 2 large trees in my yard to get some sunlight in.
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Old 02-08-2008, 10:20 AM   #12
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you should really get the soil tested, at least for pH, and N-P-K levels.

but without analysis, at least do the clumping test. turn your soil, then grab a handful. if it sticks together in a ball, your soil has too much clay. if it falls apart completely, it's too sandy.

in either case, i would spread a good inch or two of peat moss across the garden and till it in.

a lot of people say to add lime, but that takes a while to become useable, so it's best done in the fall.
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Old 02-08-2008, 10:31 AM   #13
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We've got extremely sandy soil in my area. Last year when we made the newer garden, we took it down 12 inches, filled it back up with half black dirt and half compost and tilled it all together. It worked pretty well, needs more compost I think, and time.
I also read the you can sprinkle some eggshells in the hole when you plant the tomatoes, for calcium. I've been saving them all winter, and eating alot of omlettes!
This summer I hope to re-start the compost pile, the eggshells will then go there.
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Old 02-09-2008, 11:44 AM   #14
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We have tons of clay here (just a river apart suziquzie but such different soil!) so we dumped lots of sand into our garden spot along with manure. It was a new, old spot so this year we are working on leveling it after we saw where it sank and rose after settling after tilling and water all summer. I have also been saving coffee grounds all winter ... hopefully it all helps!

I would love to try some heirloom tomatoes but we'll see. Not a lot of luck with our romas either jeekinz. One trick we found that really worked well was to hang our cherry tomatoes. I planted 3 plants in hanging baskets off of our shed. They kept producing long after my neighbors who had them in the ground and staked. I got the idea from a wild plant we had while living in Oregon. This little cherry tomato plant started growing in the corner of our yard and we just left it. It sprawled all over the corner and up the fence. We thought hanging in a basket was a similar "experience" for the plant - freedom to just be without the aches and pains of cages or staking.
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Old 02-11-2008, 12:07 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jeekinz View Post
This year, I was going to build an 'actual' veggie garden since I found the right area. What would you recommend I till in to the soil?
DH always gets a truckload of manure to till into our veggie and herb gardens.
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Old 02-11-2008, 11:06 PM   #16
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JM and Suzi should have just swapped soil with each other, LOL.

The best tomatoes we grew were when we lived in Evanston. It used to be sand dunes there and later was covered with soil. You could still see the rise and fall in the landscape indicating where the dunes had piled up. Turned out great veggies, but while it was nice and sandy it wasn't overly sandy either but rather just about the right mixture of black dirt and sand.
When we moved here to Cicero, we added sand in some places to improve the soil there, but the thing that has proven the best for our soil has been the prairie plants. They took some of the worst clayish soil and turned it into rich black dirt.
Which is why I am so eager to start taking parts of it back and expand the veggie and herb gardens!
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Old 02-14-2008, 04:40 PM   #17
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We have a clay soil also. My romas are always my best tomatoes. We have added compost to our soil, as well as manure for years. Whenever I start a new bed, I have a hard time believing how bad the dirt is before it has been amended. The tomatoes I grow seem to benefit from being moved to different areas of the garden every year. Left in the same place they never do as well.
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Old 02-15-2008, 09:53 AM   #18
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We have a clay soil also. My romas are always my best tomatoes. We have added compost to our soil, as well as manure for years. Whenever I start a new bed, I have a hard time believing how bad the dirt is before it has been amended. The tomatoes I grow seem to benefit from being moved to different areas of the garden every year. Left in the same place they never do as well.
I heard they pull all the nutrients from the surrounding soil, so it's better to move around.
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Old 02-15-2008, 10:27 AM   #19
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I heard they pull all the nutrients from the surrounding soil, so it's better to move around.
Well, that's why they need amending every year, with manure or compost or fertilizer. The reason for rotating them around the garden is to prevent disease-causing organisms from the previous year from infecting new plants.

Crop Rotation in the Vegetable Garden
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