brandon558
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What to add when planting tomatoes

I was reading an article yesterday that had some interesting info. I am no expert and have had 4 gardens so far. I can grow a tomato but not impressive plants like many of you do. I mix horse manure compost in the garden, till it up, add some 8-8-8 when the plants start to grow. What all can i do to have healthy, high yielding plants this year?

Back to the article i was reading, they dig a 2' hole, put fish heads/ tails, egg shells, a head ache tablet that supposely helps the plants immune system, some Meal worm powder i believe it was, and then they place the plant on top of all of that, add some dirt and plant the plant fairly deep with only the top out of the ground. They swear by it and grow very nice tomatoes. Now i know you don't have to go to that extreme to grow nice tomatoes but was curious what you all have found that works to grow bigger and better yielding tomatoes.

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feldon30
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Re: What to add when planting tomatoes

Hmm let's see we've got all the old wive's tales.

* fish heads -- neighborhood cats will dig them up
* egg shells -- tomato plants need calcium, but there's usually plenty in the soil. dolomitic lime + mulch + proper watering techniques will stop BER. egg shells alone won't.
* aspirin -- not sure what this is supposed to do (immune system?) but it doesn't work
* meal worm powder -- ok that's a new one

I think it's one of those cases of post hoc ergo propter hoc (after it, therefore because of it). A grower has good soil, adds compost, proper fertilizer, and then adds these red herring items, has good results, and then concludes that it was the fish head, egg shells, and aspirin that did it, rather than everything else he or she did.

I add TomatoTone, Happy Frog, or other organic fertilizer with fertilizer numbers like 4-7-10, 3-4-6, just something with a low first number (Nitrogen) and high last two numbers (Phosphorous and Potassium). Too much nitrogen in something like 14-14-14 will give you big bushy plants and little if any fruit.

* Nitrogen gives you big bushy green foliage
* Phosphorous gives you strong roots.
* Potassium gives you more flowers and healthy fruit production.

I apply enough fertilizer at grow out to last at least 2 months, spread thoroughly throughout the cubic foot where the tomato roots will be. I also add plenty of composted manure (cow, sheep, rabbit) and dolomitic lime (prevents BER).

When plants are loading up with fruit, I start fertilizing with organic liquid fertilizer once a week. I used to love HastaGro 6-12-6 but have had a hard time finding it. You could try compost tea or something else. Point is, when plants are loading up with fruit, they need lots of food to keep producing.
The Unconventional Tomato -- Comprehensive Seed Starting Guide, Garden Photos, and more!

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gixxerific
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Re: What to add when planting tomatoes

Brandon sounds like you got it covered. My main "fertilizer" is manure, compost. I really don't go out of my way to fertilize. When I do I normally just put whatever I can find that is organic and the right mix. But as I said I don't fertilize much and have beautiful plants.

Mother nature doesn't add store bought fertilizer, just saying.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: What to add when planting tomatoes

yup, all I add is compost.
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brandon558
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Re: What to add when planting tomatoes

Thanks for the info....

I think over the last few years i have been fertilizing a bit too much. Possibly watering too.

As far as the tomato tone, and other organic fertilizers...how often should i feed my plants?

Also i know it all depends on how much rain you recieve but how much water do the plants need per week?

Feldon- i may try that HastaGro 6-12-6....ebay and amazon has plenty.

THanks

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rainbowgardener
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Re: What to add when planting tomatoes

There's some choices involved. With lots of water and fertilizer, you can pump up your plants and fruits, so they are bigger, but they will be less flavorful (think about grocery store tomatoes :? ). So are you growing your plants to try and set some kind of neighborhood record for how big you can get them or are you growing them because you love the flavor of homegrown tomatoes? If the latter, then cut down on the watering and fertilizing. (Think about the people who compete for growing giant pumpkins and watermelons. They can create 200 pound monsters, but they are inedible and are thrown away. Such a waste.)

Unfortunately, no one can tell you how much. It depends on your weather (hotter, drier weather, the plants will need more water), your soil (sandier soils dry out a lot faster and need more added nutrients as well as water), whether you are growing in the ground or in raised beds or container (progressively more water and nutrients needed), the sun exposure (more hours of direct sun a day means more water needed), etc. You just need to learn to monitor your plants closely and get a feel for what they need. Check your soil a few inches down and see if it is still damp there.
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feldon30
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Re: What to add when planting tomatoes

I hope one year I get my soil to the point where compost alone is enough to get good production. I certainly favor improving the SOIL and then the plants get what they need, rather than ignoring the soil and feeding the plants directly.

The main reasons why I am using an organic fertilizer like TomatoTone or Happy Frog is all the micronutrients they add (magnesium, etc.) as well as several strains of beneficial mycorrizae bacteria.
The Unconventional Tomato -- Comprehensive Seed Starting Guide, Garden Photos, and more!

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gixxerific
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Re: What to add when planting tomatoes

My favorite thing to add is love. My soil does the rest.

lexusnexus
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Re: What to add when planting tomatoes

As my lovely partner would say, "They're just tomatoes." When I get ready to plant my tomatoes I dig the hole, mix any additives with that dirt, add a small amount of slow release fertilizer to the soil mix, plant the tomato, put the plant support structure in place, then water it. If it needs watering during the growing season, I water. Beyond that, I eat my juicy, sweet tomatoes when they ripen. And, yes, I pinch back the suckers on indeterminate tomatoes. I've never grown determinates.
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