How to Apply Lime to Tomato Plants

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Determining the need for lime in your tomato patch is as simple as taking a soil test. Adding lime is even easier. Garden-grade lime is rich in calcium and magnesium which is essential for tomato fruit development. Avoid blossom-end rot and other common conditions by following these easy steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden grade dolomite lime
  • Soil test kit
  • Rake or shovel
  • Gloves
  • Purchase a soil test kit at the local garden center or general merchandise outlet. In fall or early spring, test the soil according to manufacturer's directions. Take note of the calcium and pH levels of your soil.

  • Determine if you need lime. Tomatoes prosper in soil with a slightly acidic pH level between 6 and 6.8. Lime will raise the pH level of soil. If your soil tests lower than 6, add lime to bring it up. If the test shows a deficiency in calcium, add lime to increase it.

  • Add lime to the soil before setting plants out in spring. To raise the pH by one unit, use about 1/2 lb. of lime to each 10 square feet of garden area by lightly dusting it over the surface, then incorporate it deeply with a rake, shovel or gloved hands. Calcium and pH levels will increase slowly with each addition.

  • Watch the fruit production over the season. If blossom-end rot occurs, calcium uptake may be hindered by an inconsistent watering schedule or the soil is still not balanced. Maintain a uniform supply of water during the entire growing season to stave off preventable disease. Too much water can drown the roots and also cause problems. Take another soil test in fall after tomato season is through and add lime as needed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Excess nitrogen causes a mass of leaf production, but few fruits.
  • Choose plants that are suitable for your region. Usually, local garden centers will provide just the right selection that will adapt.
  • Water at the base of the plants to the depth of 1 inch whenever the soil is dry. Water early in the day before the heat sets in. Too much moisture on the leaves attracts pathogens.

References

  • "The Gardener's Home Companion;" Betty Mackey; 1991
  • "The Encyclopedia of Natural Insect & Disease Control;" Roger B. Yepsen, Jr.; 1984
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