Growing Tomatoes in Containers or Raised Beds

Tomatoes are the most popular crop grown by home gardeners worldwide, and perhaps, the most difficult plant to achieve consistent results year over year.Tomatoes require a porous soil mixture that permits good drainage, allows good root growth and adequate oxygen in the root zone.
Balanced nutrition consisting of:
Major Nutrients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K)
Secondary Nutrients: Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), and Sulfur (S)
Micro nutrients or Trace Elements: Boron (B), Chlorine (CI), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), and Zinc (Zn)
The proper soil PH to enable our plants to extract the nutrients we have provided to the soil, according to experts, is around 6.0 to 6.8. With neutral PH at 7.0, then tomatoes prefer to grow in slightly acidic soil.
Often times, we achieve an excellent soil mix by adding all of our primary, secondary and micro nutrients. We care for our plants daily; yet still have spindly plants, watery fruits, and even experience blossom end rot, where we achieve beautiful fruits but they rot away on the blossom end. This is caused by the plants inability to take up Calcium.



(One successful container tomato grower in Nashville, TN USA.)

A closer look at Calcium (Ca):

Calcium is essential for many plant functions, including:
Proper cell division and elongation
Proper cell wall development to provide strong cell walls to resist disease
Nitrate uptake and metabolism to support plant and fruit growth
Enzyme activity to enable photosynthesis and development of plants sugars
Starch metabolism in plant leaves
With Calcium playing such a central role to our tomato crop, it's critical to understand how to make Calcium available to our plants.

A brief explanation:

Calcium is found in adequate quantities in most soils formed from limestone (Calcium Carbonate) or Gypsum (Calcium Sulphate). The difficulty is that 98% of the Calcium found in soils is not in a soluble form and cannot be taken up by plant roots. Additionally, as soil PH increases, insoluble Calcium may bind with Phosphorus, creating Ca-P compounds that are not readily available to plants.
In many cases, we are advised to add egg shells, lime, gypsum, or other forms of insoluble calcium to our plants with mixed results, particularly for pot-grown plants.
So, what is the answer to solving the Calcium conundrum in tomatoes:
Calcium Nitrate is a completely soluble form of Calcium and Nitrogen, which can be mixed with water and applied to the plant's root zone similar to other liquid fertilizers.
In emergencies, it can be mixed and applied as a foliar spray to provide a more immediate boost to the plants.
In its soluble form, the Calcium can be immediately taken up by the plant. The Nitrogen component is converted by microorganisms in the soil to ammonium. The ammonium then becomes the source of plant nitrogen for amino acid formation, and thus, all plant proteins.
Bottom line: add the forms of Calcium your prefer to the root zone, but help insure the results of your tomato crop, by utilizing a fertilizer that contains a soluble form of Calcium and Nitrogen throughout the growth of the plant.