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Tomatoes: A not-so-scientific growing experiment (post 1)

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

Nothing says summer to me like a fresh BLT or caprese salad so I got excited about growing some fresh tomatoes at our composting facility. Throw in a topsoil / compost experiment(ish) at the same time for a little bit of extra fun, and I give you my not-so-scientific growing experiment.

I’m planting twelve Big Boy tomato plants individually in 20-gallon fabric pots. Each grow pot will be filled with different ratios of a local loamy topsoil and our certified compost, ranging from 100% topsoil to 20% topsoil and 80% compost, changing the amount of topsoil and compost by 10% each time. For the last three pots--there were 12 fabric pots that needed to be put to good use!—I’m going to double down on three mixes: 1) 50% topsoil with 50% compost; 2) 60% topsoil with 40% compost, and 3) 70% topsoil with 30% compost.

What I’m expecting to see:

  1. The tomato plants in little (10%) to no compost will do relatively poorly, not growing as tall or yielding as many tomatoes because their soil will have limited nutrients, organic matter, and won’t retain moisture well during the hottest summer days.

  2. Tomato plants in topsoil/compost mixes above 60% will come in second. They’ll have plenty of nutrients and organic matter but the soil may not dry out in between waterings and/or get enough moisture six to eight inches down.

  3. The tomato plants in topsoil/compost mixes with 30%-50% compost will do the best.

I’m setting up automatic watering at 5:45 am for 8 minutes, at least to start. Since watering is one of the most important things to get right for tomatoes, I’m expecting that I will have to adjust the watering duration once I see how it does.

About us

Freestate Farms makes premium landscaping products—compost, topsoil, and mulch—by recycling food and yard waste in Manassas, VA. Our composts, topsoil, and mulches are specially designed to increase the health and productivity of local soils, and with our focus on sustainable practices, this lets the environment and your garden grow good, together. We sell bulk compost, bagged compost, bulk natural mulches, bulk dyed mulches, bagged dyed mulches, and bulk topsoil.


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