Decado
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Best Fertilizer Mix?

What's the best type of fertilizer mix for tomatoes? I mean in terms of 10-10-10 or 12-4-8, etc.

TZ -OH6
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10-10-10 etc works well, but if you can get someting with a little bit less nitrogen it is supposedly better (e.g. 7-10-10... the ratio in Miracle-Grow Tomato formula is 18-18-21).


Another way to go is to dig in granular 10-10-10 into the whole garden, then water in new transplants with a high phosphorus bloom booster fertilizer first thing (because the plant takes in most of its phosphorus when it is very young) and then after the first fruits set apply a high nitrogen fertilizer. This is the way the tomato farmers do it (the nitrogen application after first fruit set).


...but can you deal with 10-12 ft tall tomato plants?

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I heard the total opposite is true. Use high nitrogen fertilizer early on to promote green growth and then switch to high phosphorous fertilizer upon bloom to encourage more fruits and flowers. If you're growth area is large, use higher numbered fertilizers. I think that for indoor plants or smaller crops outdoors, fertilizers with high numbers isn't necessary. For that, stick with something like a 6-4-4 at vegetative stage, then 2-8-4 at blooming stage.
Last edited by ChefRob on Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TZ -OH6
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Radioactive tracer studies have shown that most of the phosphorus found in tomato fruits is taken up very early. And, tomato farmers usually wait until after fruit set to add nitrogen so that it does not inhibit flowering nd thus reduce yields. Nitrogen is usually pretty high in spring soil because it has been released by winter killed microbes, and the soil is too cold for living microbial populations to act on it. The plants are small and relatively widely spaced at this time so they are not nitrogen limited. The plants are much larger once the fruit starts to grow, and soil nitrogen starts to decline from plant and microbial uptake.

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I'm not saying your way doesn't work, but you will have better results if you do it a little differently. If you reduce the amount of nitrogen upon bloom, there will be enough residual nitrogen to maintain your crop. By decreasing nitrogen and adding more phosphorous at bloom, it will trigger the plant to stop focusing on leaf production and start focusing on bloom/fruit production.

In vegetable crops, excessive nitrogen levels induces delayed maturity and increases several disorders that diminish postharvest quality. These disorders can effect flavor and cause soft rot, gray walls, or internal browning in tomatoes. Flavor is lost in high nitrogen soils because it directly causes reduced vitamin C levels and decreases in sugar content.

If you're feeding your tomatoes a lot of nitrogen, they may look healthy, but excess nitrogen does not increase fruit size, production, or soluble solids content. Furthermore, too much nitrogen induces poor red color development. Look in any book on the topic and you will find the same information.
Last edited by ChefRob on Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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to fertilize ... or not

So I'll take the opposing view from both of you. My tomato plants were looking a little ragged and end of the season-ish. They had started to get some fungus, so I had cut all that off and done the milk treatment (worked beautifully! all the new growth looks very healthy) and they got kind of beat up by rampaging raccoons. So I did a top dressing of compost, trowelled it in a little, watered it in. They are perking right up, with new tomatoes growing pretty fast.

Best thing for tomatoes is a very rich organic soil and they can take what they need out of it... Whether I will get many more tomatoes depends on the weather. It's only Sept 1 and we are having October weather already, too cold to favor much ripening of tomatoes.

Oh well, did what I could.

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Re: to fertilize ... or not

Okay, that's not really an opposing view since you're talking about how to perk up ragged tomatoes; I never let them get to that point. If you start your tomatoes from seed and you want to ensure optimum flavor, texture, size and quality, (so they won't ever reach the point of being ragged) then you should fertilize as I previously mentioned. That's the difference of harvesting normal-sized tomatoes with mediocre flavor from enormous tomatoes with excellent flavor.

And we weren't really talking about compost. We were discussing when to apply high nitrogen and/or high phosphorous fertilizers. I agree that it depends on a variety of factors, including the weather, but I'm currently attempting to grow them indoors so that won't be much of a factor for me anymore.
Last edited by ChefRob on Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: to fertilize ... or not

Okay, that's not really an opposing view since you're talking about how to perk up ragged tomatoes; I never let them get to that point You must indeed be a great gardener if you have figured out a way for your tomatoes never to be affected by fungus in a very rainy season, never be attacked by raccoons (if you've read any of my other posts the tomatoes are inside a deer netting cage, the raccoons UNTIED the twist ties holding it together at the top), never to be affected by adverse weather conditions! Oh wait you have, you are now starting to grow yours indoors.. If you start your tomatoes from seed and you want to ensure optimum flavor, texture, size and quality, (so they won't ever reach the point of being ragged) then you should fertilize as I previously mentioned. That's the difference of harvesting normal-sized tomatoes with mediocre flavor from enormous tomatoes with excellent flavor. I quite concede that you all with the synthetic fertilizer probably harvested more and bigger tomatoes than I did this year, with the issues above. I would put mine up against any one's in a taste test! At least any one growing similar varieties.

And we weren't really talking about compost. We were discussing when to apply high nitrogen and/or high phosphorous fertilizers. I agree that it depends on a variety of factors, including the weather, but I'm currently attempting to grow them indoors so that won't be much of a factor for me anymore.[/quote] I understand you weren't talking about compost and I wasn't disagreeing in the sense of suggesting I'm right and some one else is wrong. There's as many ways to do this stuff as there are gardeners and mostly we all produce great tomatoes! I was just trying to suggest that outside the discussion of when to add what synthetics, there is a whole different range of possibilities.

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You sound a little heated...Don't take it personal. I'm only trying to explain to the author what has worked for me.

1) Rain and raccoons have never been a problem for me since my outdoor greenhouse has prevented them. It's not totally encapsulated so it still is affected by weather, but by the time it gets too cold, I consider the growing season over; I don't try to pep up ragged tomatoes in 35 degree weather.

2) Whoever said anything about synthetic fertilizer? All I mentioned was proper N-P-K rates. Also, I'm a chef and I feature my tomatoes in my cuisine so I know a thing or two about flavor; and trust me, they have an insane amount of flavor. What varieties do you grow?

3) I'm certain you produce great tomatoes and I never questioned your individual capability. I simply stated that if the author of this post followed proper N-P-K rates, they would notice a huge difference in quality. If you scroll up and read you will see that I describe the negative impacts high nitrogen fertilizers can have on tomatoes.
Last edited by ChefRob on Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:07 pm, edited 17 times in total.

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applestar
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Ooh! Please post photos of your tomatoes and their variety names in [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17247&highlight=]this[/url] thread. Any comments about their characteristics would be most welcome. :wink:

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Hey rainbowgardener, take a look at your August 9th post on this thread --> https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17247&highlight=

In your second paragraph, last two sentences, you contradict yourself if you compare what you wrote in this thread by stating,
rainbowgardener wrote:Look for a tomato fertilizer that is 5-10-10 or even higher on the P-K end (the tens, where the 5 is Nitrogen). Too much nitrogen will inhibit fruiting.
Last edited by ChefRob on Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

JONA878
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Our old standard mix was in a couple of stages. First stage would be low Nitrogen until the fruit was setting well.
Then the Amm.Nit. could be raised or lowered according to the plants health and vigour.
Once you get the hang of it the rewards are great as you have far more control over the plants state of growth.
A good base fert. was applied pre-planting then watering would always contain the mixes below.


1.
1.5 lb Potassium Nitrate. ( 14% N ; 44% K2O )
Dissolve in a gallon of warm water.
Then dilution of 1:200.
2.
1.5lb Potassium Nitrate
11 onz Ammonium Nitrate. ( 35% N )
Dissolve as above.
Then dilution of 1:200


It pays to make up a concentrate mix of a gallon or so then dilute into a watering can each feeding. So it's only about an egg cup full per 3gall can of water.
Any sign of Mag. deficiancy can be treated quickly by adding some Mag. Sulphate.( Epsom Salts.)

Jona.
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Diane
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JONA878 wrote:
Any sign of Mag. deficiancy can be treated quickly by adding some Mag. Sulphate.( Epsom Salts.)

Jona.
Some of my plants have this problem. It might be because of the constant rain we had.
I wonder since salt is bad for the soil, is epsom salt not the same?
How much can I use and not cause problems?
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JONA878
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Hi Diane.
If you have been having so much rain then there will be no problem with salt levels.
They only occur where the soil has very little moisture uther than the water and feed applied by the grower.
Then the constant application of feed lets the salt levels rise until they are leached away by heavy watering of some sort.

Jona.
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ChefRob
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Diane wrote:How much can I use and not cause problems?
For Tomatoes: 1 tablespoon per foot of plant height per plant; apply every two weeks.

There are some organic fertilizers out there that have good amounts of magnesium sulfate. They are a great alternative to plain Epsom salt because they're usually enriched with other nutrients as well.

For more info on Epsom salt, type "epsomsaltcouncil" in a search engine.

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Diane
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Thank you Jona and ChefRob.
A dumb question but I have to ask. :oops:
So each plant should get the whole gallon whenever it says, one tablespoon per gallon of water? Whether it's fertilizer, epsom salts or some other additive?
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JONA878
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The concentrate mix is used at one egg cup per can full of water anytime that you give the plants a water.
You water as normal whenever the plants need it.
It's just that as the mixture is so diluted at this rate you can use it daily without worry of over doing it.

Jona.
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tedln
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This has been an interesting thread on the subject of the proper fertilizer and when to apply it on tomatoes. I think it is difficult to compare how a home gardener should fertilize to how a commercial farmer fertilizes.

A farmer typically grows determinate tomatoes. It is his intention to get his plants to grow fast early, bloom early, set fruit, slow plant growth, grow fruit, semi ripen fruit, and harvest in a very narrow time frame. The farmer also wants tomatoes with comparable size, marketable appearance, and usually has little concern with flavor.

Home gardeners typically plant mostly indeterminate tomatoes in order to spread the harvest over a longer time frame. We first want early fast plant growth, early and continuous blooming, good fruit set, and excellent taste or flavor.

I don't think you can achieve both goals with the same feeding schedule or fertilizer.

I have always used 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 applied early for fast growth when the soil is warming in the spring. I then watch bloom production and fruit set as well as foliage color to determine when next to fertilize. I don't want to encourage plant growth without bloom set by over fertilizing. I am going to attempt to accomplish the same thing next year with the use of only compost and aerated compost tea. I would like to not use commercial fertilizer if possible. I will be able to compare next years growth and production rate to this years.

Ted
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Gerrie
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I don't ferrtilize much at all and get a good, if late crop of various types of tomatoes. I use rabbit poop made into a tea, when I do fertilize and have on occasion used seabird poop made into a tea. Too much fertilizer of any type and I get huge plants and few tomatoes. One thing I do find neccessary is to plant flowers nearby for the bees. Pollination is an important part for me. Where we live the summers are hot and dry usually. This summer was hotter than usual and watering was more in demand but normally we use a drip system twice a day on a timer and when I add rabbit poop tea, I usually shut the system off for that particular run. I did try burying a bananna skin near a plant thet wasn't doing much of anything and it is doing well now, lots of tomatoes-thanks to whoever suggested it a while ago! :D
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tedln wrote:A farmer typically grows determinate tomatoes. Home gardeners typically plant mostly indeterminate tomatoes
I don't think this is accurate. Farmers rely on both types to hedge their bets, but they mostly plant indeterminates. Indeterminates grow to tall and wild to be realistically accommodated in containers, especially with little space in the home. Determinates have set growth and can more easily be controlled.

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stella1751
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Just thought I'd jump in here and agree with Tedlin's statement that
A farmer typically grows determinate tomatoes. Home gardeners typically plant mostly indeterminate tomatoes.
I'm basing my opinion on the following statement from Wikipedia:
Determinate types are preferred by commercial growers who wish to harvest a whole field at one time, or home growers interested in canning.
I suppose expensive "hot-house" tomatoes would be an exception to the rule. However, when you think about the least-expensive varieties available at your local supermarket, such as Romas, and the individual care required by each indeterminate plant, it makes sense that commercial growers would find it more economical to grow determinates 8)
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

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Commerical growers who supply supermarkets with their bland produce...maybe. But this doesn't apply to the many farmers that sell their tasty heirloom produce at local farmer's markets. Surely they wouldn't harvest their entire field at the same time.

tedln
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Chef,

Your right. When I referenced commercial tomato growers, I should have specified large scale growers. They typically plant, fertilize, weed, and harvest mechanically. They need all the tomatoes at the same stage of ripeness and the same size at the same time. Thus the need to plant determinate tomatoes. Most large scale growers can't afford the hand labor required to plant, maintain, and harvest indeterminate tomatoes. They market their product to some grocery chains, juicers, and pulpers like Campbell soup company by the ton.

The smaller commercial boutique growers serve a different market like restaurants, roadside stands, farmers markets, and basically local clientele. They grow determinate, indeterminate, and many varieties of heirloom tomatoes.

When I referenced home gardeners, I was mostly referencing raised bed and row gardeners. I wasn't referencing container gardeners. The container gardeners typically have a fertilizing and watering program totally different than the raised bed and row gardens.

Ted
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ChefRob
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No worries :) I was just confused with was you originally stated so thank you for clearing that up.

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