Potted plant with organic soil and fertilizer

GrowTheWorld(8)May 6, 2012

Hello everyone,

First time post, long time reader (did I really just say that), well I guess I made a pretty cardinal mistake as far as I have read concerning potted plants. I bought some heirloom tomato plants in small pots locally and have transferred them to small pots filled with Espoma Organic Potting Mix. The potting mix boasts plenty of Ectomycorrhizal fungi (7 different species) as well as 45-55% Sphagnum Peat moss, peat humus, perlite, and dolomitic limestone (quoting from bag). I also mixed in some Epsoma Tomato-tone organic fertilizer (3-4-6, Ca-5%, Mg-1%, S-3%) which also had 916 colony forming units of different bacteria. I also have them in 3.5 gallon pots covered in pine straw. I water them once or twice a week (depending on the hot Alabama weather) with water I have left outside overnight for a few days. If it rains then they get that instead. My concern, after I have read all this wonderful information on this site, is that I have did my plants a woeful disservice. Don't get me wrong, they are growing very lush, green, and strong. They have also started to put out the wonderful yellow flowers as a precursor to fruiting. But I am concerned because I believe that I will not get any tomatoes due to my mistake of using organic ferts and soil in a potted environment? I am concerned that they might not be getting the proper nutrients to give good fruits. I really really want to abstain from using miracle-gro or other inorganic fertilizers. Are they doomed or should I continue with them the way they are going? I was considering adding more of the organic fertilizer to the top of the soil then adding a little soil on top and go about it like that? Thanks for reading my long post and any directions or experience would be greatly appreciated. Thank You

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I have grown in pots and Earthboxes for the past several years. For the most part, I have a soiless mix, mostly peat, some pine bark chips and perlite and some type of container mix. I use ogranic ferts all the time because I reuse my mix and dont want it to get overly salty. My tomatoes taste fine and I get plenty of them. Would organic ferts work better in the dirt? Undoubtedly. I can only tell you what is working and has worked for me. Judging by the apparent health of your tomatoes, it is also working for you.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 2:03PM
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I heard that to much Nitrogen will cause a plant to be lush & fruitless.
I have never seen this happen.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 9:29PM
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It certainly can happen and I know folks who have grown humongous tomato plants with zero fruit. Probably more likely with big applications of chemical Nitrogen.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 3:38PM
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The concerns about using organic ferts in a container environment is the typical lack of microorganisms in regular potting soil necessary to digest and process the fertilizers. There will be some present but generally not in the quantities necessary for the organic fertilizer to be used/metabolized efficiently. So one runs a risk of the container grown plants NOT receiving the nutrient needs they require. That's why the suggestion is for a liquid or water soluble fertilizer for container plants, however there are few organic ferts that are the slightest bit water soluble and they tend to offer less than a full range of nutrients.

In this case, non-organic fertilizers tend to be a lot more efficient at delivering the goods :-)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 4:55PM
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Agree 100% with gardengal48. Well said.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 2:06AM
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prestons_garden(9B SZ 22 HZ 6 SoCal)

It all depends how complicated you make it. Organics fertilizers can do very well in containers, just some thought has to go into it.
Most people do not want to spend much time learning to be productive in organics. So they reach for an inexpensive alternative that has very fast results and works.
All I"m saying is it can be done both ways and I don"t have time to prove one over the other.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 9:35PM
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Ron, please explain to me 'zactly how organic ferts get mineralized in a container potting soil that lacks any significant populations of the soil organisms to accomplish that feat. Or, what organic fertilizers you've encountered that are sufficiently water soluble to bypass the microbes yet still provide a full range of both macro and micro nutrients.

Organics fertilizers can do very well in containers, just some thought has to go into it. I'd amend that to read "organic fertilizers can do OK in containers" but to get the best performance from your plants without jumping through major hoops you might want to consider something that accomplishes that task more efficiently.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 5:18PM
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prestons_garden(9B SZ 22 HZ 6 SoCal)

gardengal48, Try doing a research on Neptunes Fish and Seaweed Fertilizer.

I don't have a lot of time right now to explain the different types of organic fertilizers and how they make the nutrients available to plants.

Do the footwork and educate yourself, read.

Here is a Boysenberry grown with ALL ORGANICS in a container. :-)

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 11:28AM
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need micro organisms ? use aerated compost tea......bingo bango instant bacteria

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 9:08PM
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