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Home made potting medium for Tomatoes in Earthboxes

Posted by alina_1 6/7, MD (My Page) on
Thu, May 10, 12 at 16:21

Hi everyone,

After a failure to grow Tomatoes in the garden last year (critters ate everything), I decided to try Earthboxes. I have some patio space and deer, rabbits, and squirrels seem to not like to have their breakfast too close to the home.

I ordered a couple of Earthbox kits. The kits include Coir - enough to fill the entire container. I think that using just Coir alone would be too lean for tomatoes...

Here what I have:

  • Fine pine bark mulch

  • Organic garden soil

  • Perlite

  • Tomato-tone fertilizer

  • Coir (coconut?) fiber that came with Earthboxes

Do you think I can mix these ingredients to get a good potting medium? If so, what proportions I should use? Should I add aspirin tablets?

I would really appreciate any useful info/advice.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Home made potting medium for Tomatoes in Earthboxes

I have grown tomatoes in EBs for several years. Recently, they came out with the coir in some of their kits and it has not been well received. General reaction from gardeners is to use it with potting mix. You mention soil. Never use a product which contains compost or manures. Soiless potting mix is what you want. I have some of the coir kits myself and just mix some of it in with my regular mix. I would not add more than, maybe 25% coir. My regular mix is about 50% peat moss 35% potting mix, the rest pine bark fines and perlite. I use 3 cups of tomatotone in a strip. You do not need to "build soild" in an Earthbox as you might in the ground. You are simply providing a growing medium to hold the roots so they may absorb moisure and ferts provided. Do not add asprin, eggshells or any such thing. Add 2 cups of dolomite lime or if you cant find that add Epsoma garden lime available at Home Depot. Good luck. I love my Earthboxes!

RE: Home made potting medium for Tomatoes in Earthboxes

That is a response I hoped for :)
Thank you for the detailed description. I am an experienced gardener, but not with tomatoes.

I saw Epsoma lime in our HD. It is advertised as an additive for changing Hydrangea color. I was wondering whether it would be a good substitute for dolomite. I guess, this lime is exactly what you meant, right?

Can you tell me what are your favorite tomatoes for growing in Earthboxes? I already bought all varieties basing on Tomatoes forum recommendation, but I would also like to know your opinion. Do you plant two tomatoes in each of your Earthboxes?

Thanks again!

RE: Home made potting medium for Tomatoes in Earthboxes

Not positive about the lime as I actually purchase labeled dolomite lime at my nursery. I saw Epsoma Garden Lime at HD last week and checked to see that it had Magnesium and Calcium which is what you are looking for. Check Epsoma on line and they will have a full description of their products. I pretty much only grow tomatoes and love them all, well, almost. I do plant two in an EB and I live in a hot SoCal climate so they drink up the water fast in summer. I typically grow heirloom indeterminates although I am trying various smaller, determinates lately. I really like a tomato called Druzba, also like Jaune Flamme, Prudens Purple. I have read on Daves site that somebody has had good success with both Box Car Willie and Mule Team in an Earthbox so I am trying both of those this year. In my experience, it is a lot easier to grow toms in an EB. Biggest mistake people seem to make is getting the wrong growing medium. Most important is that it wicks and to wick, it needs to have lots of peat moss. First year I grew in straight peat moss because I thought that was correct LOL. They still grew!!! Good luck!

RE: Home made potting medium for Tomatoes in Earthboxes

Thank you!
For some reason, I can't find the fact sheet for that Epsoma Lime. I guess, this new organic one would work - it is not hydrated and they recommend to use it on ornamental plants and on vegetables. It is also slow-releasing.
I would probably use that Coir I already have instead of peat - it is supposed to wick and has very similar qualities.

Thank you again! That was really helpful!

RE: Home made potting medium for Tomatoes in Earthboxes

Yes, thats what I saw and I think it has mag and cal which is what you are looking for.

RE: Home made potting medium for Tomatoes in Earthboxes

I bought that Epsoma Organic lime yesterday. It is exactly what should be used with tomatoes - dolomitic, non-hydrated lime. Both calcium and magnesium are there and it is slow releasing.
I thought I'd mention this here in the case someone else is reading this thread.

RE: Home made potting medium for Tomatoes in Earthboxes

Perfect - thanks!

RE: Home made potting medium for Tomatoes in Earthboxes

I have been using Earthbox containers for four years. I find a high percentage of my tomatoes had BER. I have tried changing fertilizers but have used Dolemite from EB in every box. Has anyone tried a water soluble mineral mix at planting? I normally dampen the potting soil from the top dowm at planting until overflow and then water into the tubes from then on. I am still experiencing BER. Any ideas?

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