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General discussion regarding the techniques and methods used to successfully grow tomato plants in containers.

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Old July 4, 2016   #1
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Default How do you add organic fertilizer to your containers?

This might seem like an odd title, but actually I find it problematic adding organic fertilizers (like pellets, manure based, etc), let's say midseason.
The problem is like this: I find the effect of organic fertilizer to be oddly local (not like how imagined, that it will drift with top watering). When I add some fertilizer, mixing it on the surface, quickly in like 2 weeks lots of roots will form on the surface looking for that food, and then they kinda block any subsequent application, because there is no more loose mix left to do the same again. Also, often, due to extreme heat on the balcony those roots will be burned from the surface, affecting the capacity of the plants to absorb said fertilizer.
So my question is how to make the fertilizer go deeper after plants are big. Just make holes through the roots without pity? How do you do it?
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Old July 4, 2016   #2
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This is something I am facing right now, as some plants are showing signs of fatigue and need some strong food to continue their mission.. I have been giving them organic nutrients by sticks / pellets (around the container along the rim), and also via watering ... (seaweed & chicken manure fert)
Some containers no longer allow for side dressing (I can't dig any 'holes' any more), but I think it's OK just to sprinkle the granules lightly around the roots and water: tha plant can absorb nutrients with every watering as the fert slowly melts into the soil.

I've noticed that local effect... The answer is, I guess, to spread the fert evenly around the plant in different locations. It's a challenge to remember where I stuck that spike, but perhaps the leaf color gives a clue?

(Currently using Neudorff Tomato & Berry feed and some Finnish organic brands, both sugar beet and chicken based)
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Old July 4, 2016   #3
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Sign me up for this thread! Zipcode I've had the same problem in the past with roots going for that surface kick. Have a few problems with the container soil this season (seriously big troubles) and I did have to dig stuff right down into the roots but they were smaller then... now I want to do more but surface alone won't cut it.
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Old July 4, 2016   #4
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I just stick with a weekly feeding of a liquid fertilizer for my containers (grow bags). It's the best way I've found to keep them sufficiently fed, and a hose end sprayer makes the job much easier.

The only granular feeding they now get is right before our two week mid-June vacation as it will release slowly.
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Old July 4, 2016   #5
Ed of Somis
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Funny this post appears now! Yesterday I put some ferts in a gallon jar with water to break down over night (granules and pellets). I will pour the solution on my plants today. I think this will distribute the nutrients throughout the root zone better...and it will have a quicker benefit. The down side is difficult to do the math and figure out ratios and amounts to use.
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Old July 23, 2016   #6
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why not use a dry organic food like Tomato Tone & calculate the amount per container & mix in the medium evenly before transplanting at the start of the season? You can then add a liquid Kelp at given intervals throughout the season.
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Old July 23, 2016   #7
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I amended my potting mix with Espoma Tomato Tone (which I haven't seen in my last two big box trips) and put a good handful in the plant holes for my plants. I then went to Miracle Grow tomato mix (good, but obviously not organic). After reading and researching, I decided Texas Tomato Food was good stuff.

I took the plunge and ordered some Texas Tomato Food - holy cow! My zucchini is growing insane, same with eggplant and hot peppers. Tomatoes that had been sitting green forever on a plant finally blushed (was probably just Ms. Nature paying off), and the blooms on all my tomatoes are crazy plentiful - too bad my MS heat and humidity are giving me problems. I hope that with a weekly TTF watering that the tomatoes will hold on until the temps cool down a bit.

So, I can't say enough great things so far about TTF - is it possible that you could use composted manure and make a tea for yours? I am considering buying 25 pounds of composted horse manure and a 50 gallon drum next year to give that a go.
"Ain't nothin' in the world that I like better than bacon and lettuce, and home-grown tomatoes."
- Guy Clark (RIP), "Home-Grown Tomatoes"
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Old July 24, 2016   #8
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It's a wierd scene for me this year, with everything arriving in the wrong order and late. Wrong mix for containers, late and a LOT of it. No funds for alternatives at the time. The only amendment I had at the time of planting was bone meal and a scanty bit of kelp. Afterwards we went and got kelp, someone brought me a pickup load of nicely composted horse manure, I got a big bag of chicken manure pellets 5-4-3 and had several buckets of shrimp shell gifted to me as well. So all of the things I would have used before planting came afterwards.
I had a small amount of perlite and compost that I mixed and dug as deeply around the roots as i could when the plants started having vascular distress problems. And made some kelp drinks for them. After that I top dressed with a mixture of the composted horse manure (full of worms!) and crushed kelp. That seems to have helped some with the compaction issue by acting as a mulch. About ten days ago I scratched some of the chicken manure pellets into the top and also watered with some dilute molasses for extra K. They seem to be loving it and flowering and setting nicely, but exactly as mentioned, soon enough these little white roots appeared on the surface in patches, everywhere the chicken stuff was scratched.
Soo... I'm going to try to melt down the chicken stuff in water, add some dissolved molasses for extra K, and try watering it down into the deeps, maybe apply liquid ferts followed by water?
I also thought about using a skewer to poke some holes and then apply ferts into that? Not sure if the dry manure would burn roots, maybe apply wet into the holes?

Maybe I should do both, make it a proper experiment.

I'm glad tomatoes don't last for years... all I have to do is coax a crop out of them this summer by constant disaster management. Worry about next year later.
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Old July 24, 2016   #9
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Crab + alfalfa meal + tomato tone mixed in initially, then subsequent teas.

When I see them tired after 2-3+ mos, I grab some manure, dol lime, worm castings, more tomato tone + crab + alfalfa, mix it up and then add two handfuls to each stand-alone 5 gal container. At this point the soil has shrunk and there is space to add more potting mix and mulch. So I remove some of the old mulch, add more potting mix, add the rejuvenating cocktail, top it off with mulch, and then water it in thoroughly. They perk up overnight. The "new" area gets infiltrated with roots quickly, so it's more or less a one shot deal.

For my tubes I use the same regimen, only 1 handful instead, in a strip.
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Old July 24, 2016   #10
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Originally Posted by nniemiec View Post
why not use a dry organic food like Tomato Tone & calculate the amount per container & mix in the medium evenly before transplanting at the start of the season?
That's what i do and then add TT a couple of times through the season. Not saying it's the best though.

How do you get anything liquid to stick around? I'm having to water ALOT lately, things are in surivival mode and not really growing due to heat.

It might be best for me to put a saucer under some of these containers and bottom feed.

I wonder if I stuck a gallon pail out in the full sun how long it would make it before it went bone dry. It be HOT.

In years past, containers rebound really well in the fall (esp. peppers) when the weather gets tolerable again.

I'll be watching this thread to see what kind of ideas you container gurus have to say.

I think it is also best to talk about what kind of merchandise we are talking about. Obv. tropicals, fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, flowers - may provide different method for each, IDK.

Just some lame ideas and thoughts....... carry on.
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Old July 24, 2016   #11
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I use pond water from a defunct koi pond that has a lot of duckweed. I also brew compost tea. Seems to work well so far on seedlings and my citrus trees.
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Old November 9, 2016   #12
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I have being wondering the same thing with my SIP bucket's....cheers....
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Old November 10, 2016   #13
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I don't garden in containers but some of my Organic Gardening Community Forum friends make compost or worm casting "tea" to water their plants. They just place compost, manure or worm castings in water and let it steep. When the water looks dark, they water their plants with it.
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