First time gardener. What to use and when to fertilize tomatoes?

Seamus_VA(7a VA)June 6, 2005

I added manure when I transplanted the plants to the garden. I read that I shouldn't fertilize again until the plants start putting out fruit. They are starting to flower so that probably isn't too far off. What should I use as organic fertilizer? I started making a compost tea to soak into the soil and I think I can get some cow manure from my lake house this weekend. Is that all I need?

It's important that I keep plants healthy and producing b/c if problems arise I know my Dad will start using Miracle Gro.

Thanks, Seamus

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squeeze(z8 BC)

easy on the manure - tomatoes don't want toooo much nitrogen or they'll be beautiful bushy green plants w/ no fruit - if you have a decent soil you might need very little after the initial manure addition, but when there's actually fruit formed and sizing up, if the plant doesn't look quite happy and healthy, you might try a little liquid fish fertilizer or liquid seaweed - the compost tea might be good too

other useful 'organic' fert for tomatoes is bone meal for the P and calcium, and greensand or woodash for potassium, but manure usually has enuff potassium
good luck w/ dad! :)

Bill

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 5:01PM
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steve2416

Seamus,
I'm trying to imagine why anyone would fertilize tomatoes! Last year, they sprouted out of my mulches. They took over the garden - weighing down gladiolas, peanuts, corn, okra. The only thing they didn't overwhelm was the melons,'lopes, and pumpkins, and that was because the melons(etc) outran them.
I consider tomatoes in the category of a tasty weed, similar to Egyptian walking onions. Remember the adage: Be carefull what you wish for; you may get it.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 5:02PM
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Seamus_VA(7a VA)

Thanks for the responses. I think you saved me from myself. I think I'll stick to pulling any weeds that pop up and making sure there's enough water when it gets really hot. The soil seems pretty good. The bed was an untended flower bed and I found lots of worms when I moved the plants to clear the bed. I added compost before planting.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 11:58PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Get the soil enriched with lots of organic matter the fall before and then all you need do the year you grow tomatoes is mulch heavily so the soil stays evenly moist and is well drained. It does sound as though your soil has been well prepared (the presence of lots of worms) but a little too much Nitrogen, or an imbalance that will encourage the plants to uptake too much N, will give you lush, green growth with no fruits.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 6:41AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I added manure when I transplanted the plants to the garden. I read that I shouldn't fertilize again until the plants start putting out fruit.

Fertilize again? I would argue that you haven't fertilized yet. I consider manure to have an overall negative effect on a garden, because it adds disease causing microbes to the soil. Even compost is not considered a fertilizer because it is so low in protein. If you want to fertilize the tomatoes use a real organic fertilizer. If you want to save some money and make your own, go to the pantry and get some corn meal, wheat flour, or coffee grounds and sprinkle a handful under each plant every month. If you have a dog, cat, rabbit, or hamster, dry pet food is great, too. These grain based protein sources take 3 full weeks to have an effect on the plants, so don't look for overnight changes.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 2:48AM
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maupin(z6 So. IL)

I agree with Steve and Kim. Tomatoes grew wild for millenia before they were cultivated by man. They are strong and tough. Amend the soil in the fall with organic matter, keep them mulched and appropriately watered (not too much, and especially not before picking fruit), and let the soil feed the plant.

My soil is so rich with compost (I have the sore back to prove it) that every watering is like root fertilizing with compost tea. Lay off the nitrogen unless you want big, pretty, weak, unproductive plants.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 5:54PM
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