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Old May 7, 2017   #1
Container Guy
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Default Will Garden Tone work for tomatoes

Hi! I'm trying to find an organic fertilizer for my SWC's.

Problem:
I want to avoid and correct blossom drop. Vegetable tone is available inexpensively in small bags here and could be used on my other vegetables, but Tomato Tone would have to be special ordered in a large bag. Will Vegetable Tone work without other additions, or should I bite the bullet and buy Tomato Tone? Alternatively, is there another organic fertilizer that would be better?

Backstory:
I am growing organic tomatoes in DIY self watering containers in zone 9B in a screened in porch. I have a ~4' tall Roma plant and a 8 younger, medium-sized Super Sweet 100's in 3.5 gal containers (3 gal soil, .5 gal reservoir). They are all in a 1:1 mix of Miracle grow organic raised bed soil (0.09-0.08-0.09 with 0.02 Ca) and Lambert organic potting mix (lots of peat moss and some perlite, no fertilizer content listed). The Roma seedling was planted in late February and has blossomed a for about 4 weeks, but only set 3 fruits. The other blossoms have dropped. The SS100 seedlings were transplanted a month ago and the largest have just started setting blossoms.

Goal:
I'm going to repot two of my SS100's in to a shared 27 gal DIY SWC and want to fertilize to avoid blossom drop. I'm also going to be repotting some smaller seedlings into 3.5 gal SWC's and fertilize for the same reason. If possible, I'd like to add some of the fertilizer in the Roma container to try to fix the blossom drop that is already occurring, but don't want to hurt the fruit that is set.

Any recommendations, suggestions, or advice would be very much appreciated! Thank you!
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Old May 8, 2017   #2
RayR
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If I understand this correctly, you haven't used any fertilizer yet in your containers?
The lack of fertility alone could account for blossom drop. there are other causes also that may add to the problem in your climate. See here

I'll give you my take on fertilizing organically in a container. I mostly use standard containers for peppers and other stuff, but have also used them for tomato. I have only one SWC and I have grown tomatoes successfully in that. I never use the reservoir for anything but water, no fertilizer there.
You can use Garden-Tone for tomatoes, I've actually have used all the Espoma Tones without any issues- Tomato-Tone, Garden-Tone, Plant-Tone, even Holly-Tone. I have the same problem this year again, can't find any 18lb bags of Tomato-Tone locally, so I'll be using Plant-Tone which I have. No big deal.

1.) Dry organic fertilizer - mix it thoroughly into the potting soil at recommended rates or a little more won't hurt anything. Dry organic fertilizers are not exactly instant food for your plant, but work over the season as soil microbes do the job of making plant available nutrients available to your plants.

2.) Soil Biology - Soil life is the key to organics, for plant nutrition as well as other factors that makes for a healthy organically grown plant that produces. A lot potting soils don't come with a wide variety of soil bacteria and fungi to do the work of nutrient cycling. Actually you don't know what's in there most of the time or if they have the best species of organisms that benefit the plant The Espoma fertilizers are inoculated with spores of 3 workhorse Bacillus species which is a good start. That's good but not good enough for me. I always inoculate my seedlings and containers with mycorrhizal fungi, Trichoderma and a whole host of other beneficial bacteria. They come together in one package, they're cheap to buy and they make a big difference.

3.) Liquid Organic Fertilizers - I don't consider it an option for container growing organically especially in the beginning vegetative stages. Liquid Fish hydrolysate or Fish emulsion with or without kelp are commonly available, there are others though. They provide a more more instant source of nutrition for the plant and the microbes. I supplement that when watering every week of so during the season. Always water in top down with liquid organics right into the root zone.

That's all a basic organic growing program for me in containers.
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Old May 8, 2017   #3
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I've used a huge bag of Garden Tone (brown bag) for the past two years at planting but I grow mostly inground. After about 5 or 6 weeks they need a little more of a bloom boost and they get liquid fertilizer.

I also use whatever is on sale from the previous year. It all seems to work so no need imho to special order. Truthfully I spent a fortune my first few years but it was more for me believing I had would have a superior advantage than for the plants. No more brag rights here. Get the smaller sale bags and give it a try.

- Lisa
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Old May 8, 2017   #4
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Here's link to Espoma Organic Plant Foods https://www.espoma.com/products/organic-plant-foods/

I've read in many threads that a lot of people like using these products. I personally have not seen anything useful about Tomato Tone, Garden Tone, and Plant Tone in our gardens.
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Old May 8, 2017   #5
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Thanks for the advice. I guess my follow up question is if I add fertilizer (TT, GT, or fish emulsion) after the Roma's have 3 fruits set, will it cause harm to the fruit?

@Ray-
Thanks for the link. No, I have not added any fertilizer other than what was in the pre-mixed soil. From that article and my other research, I think that heat or lack of nutrients is the most likely cause. I can't control the heat, but I think that I still need to address the lack of nutrients as the most likely cause.

You've said you've used the various Tones with tomatoes, have you used the Tomato Tone on other plants like bell peppers? I'm growing mostly tomatoes and a few peppers; I'd be fine ordering TT if it was usable on my other plants as well.

What is the purpose of the fist emulsion? If I have bone meal in the soil and a fertilizer like Tomato Tone or Vegetable Tone that contains nitrogen, what does the fish emulsion do?

@Lisa-
I appreciate the words of experience, I'm hoping to avoid buying unnecessary fertilizer if I can. What liquid fertilizer do you use to supplement the GT?

@Salt-
I think my plants definitely need more nutrients, as they have such a limited volume of dirt. When you say you haven't seen anything useful, do you have a different fertilizer you use?
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Old May 8, 2017   #6
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Quote:
@Ray-
Thanks for the link. No, I have not added any fertilizer other than what was in the pre-mixed soil. From that article and my other research, I think that heat or lack of nutrients is the most likely cause. I can't control the heat, but I think that I still need to address the lack of nutrients as the most likely cause.
Any starter fertilizer in the pre-mixed soil will not satisfy the needs of a fast growing mature fruiting plant.

Quote:
You've said you've used the various Tones with tomatoes, have you used the Tomato Tone on other plants like bell peppers? I'm growing mostly tomatoes and a few peppers; I'd be fine ordering TT if it was usable on my other plants as well.
Yes TT works fine on peppers and other plants too.

Quote:
What is the purpose of the fist emulsion? If I have bone meal in the soil and a fertilizer like Tomato Tone or Vegetable Tone that contains nitrogen, what does the fish emulsion do?
It's basically a fast source of plant nutrients.

Fist Emulsion is a byproduct of industry, It is the fluid left over using heat to separate and remove the oils and fish meal. Since it's cooked down the proteins and amino acids are denatured but retains NPK and micronutrtents.

Fish Hydrolysate is enzymatically digested fish carcasses left over from fish processing or whole junk fish that are not useful as food. It's a cold process that liquefies the fish parts and retains the oils, proteins and amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and all. The available nitrogen percentage is lower in the NPK analysis than emulsion because it's not as concentrated by cooking down.

Both types need to be stabilized at a low PH to prevent microbes from growing in the bottle and putrefying the stuff, Phosphoric acid is mostly used as a preservative for this which also adds to the plant available phosphorous content.

Bone meal is primarily calcium phosphate. Soft Rock Phosphate is also primarily calcium phosphate. Most phosphorous in natural soils is also tied up as insoluble calcium phosphate. Phosphorous is a highly reactive element and doesn't exist in natural soils in soluble plant available form. That's where microbes come in, Mycorrhizal fungi are particularly good at breaking down calcium phosphate and delivering phosphate directly into the plant roots.
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Old May 8, 2017   #7
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With self watering from the bottom, there's a certain 'risk' that the fertilizer doesn't get decomposed, since it's not buried deep enough where the moisture is. Not sure how deep you put it or anything, just an idea. Are the plants looking good? By good I mean nice green colour, and quite importantly broad long leaves?
And then the second is microelements. The soilless stuff for containers doesn't have any minerals really. The organic fertilizer should have some but maybe not enough. In my (top watering) more or less organic containers I use organic fertilizer but I add some magnesium sulfate, calcium nitrate, iron chelate, borax, copper sulfate, zinc sulfate, some molybdenum salt I forget, and manganese something. Of course, add in very very small quantities, every month or so (also in the right proportions, the Mg and Ca should be a lot more than the others). I makes a big difference compared to just the fertilizer, especially for taste.
I still have problems at about 4th-fifth flower branches after the plant is loaded, probably an automated watering would help, to keep the roots from overgrowing and reducing the absorption efficiency.
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Old May 8, 2017   #8
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Garden tone is the wrong one to use in my opinion.
Use plant tone or even tree tone.
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Old May 8, 2017   #9
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Salt I think the nematodes had an effect on your results.

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Old May 8, 2017   #10
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I know the nematodes are why I didn't get good results.

@Salt-
I think my plants definitely need more nutrients, as they have such a limited volume of dirt. When you say you haven't seen anything useful, do you have a different fertilizer you use?

Yes, I like Alaska Fish Fertilizer 5-1-1 http://homeguides.sfgate.com/use-ala...511-98629.html

I have also used 10-10-10, but that's not organic.
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Old May 8, 2017   #11
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I grow mostly in containers as well. Garden tone has always performed great for me. I second salt's recommendation for the fish fertilizer. I also use worm castings and occasionally epsom salts. I add a bit of lime for tomatoes only . Fortunately I have never had a problem to speak of with blossom end rot.
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Old May 8, 2017   #12
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Oops thank you for the link, Robert. it was Plant Tone that I used liberally and universally . I have been using Garden Tone as well, including this year on tomato seedlings and early season crops.

- Lisa

Any soluble fertilizer on hand or on sale goes in. I have stopped buying small bottles of "better' stuff from amazon for $15 for larger scale use. I have used the Lily Miller blue stuff with micro nutrients for the past two years, but my growing partner has also dumped the wal-mart non- miracle grow box in to his water tank too.

- Lisa

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Old May 8, 2017   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Container Guy View Post



Backstory:

I am growing organic tomatoes in DIY self watering containers in zone 9B in a screened in porch. I have a ~4' tall Roma plant and a 8 younger, medium-sized Super Sweet 100's in 3.5 gal containers (3 gal soil, .5 gal reservoir). They are all in a 1:1 mix of Miracle grow organic raised bed soil (0.09-0.08-0.09 with 0.02 Ca) and Lambert organic potting mix (lots of peat moss and some perlite, no fertilizer content listed). The Roma seedling was planted in late February and has blossomed a for about 4 weeks, but only set 3 fruits. The other blossoms have dropped. The SS100 seedlings were transplanted a month ago and the largest have just started setting blossoms.


Back tracking to your back story -- as the plants aren't accessible to pollinators, are you helping with this at all? If not, it's very possible that your blossom drop problem is due to lack of pollination. Some people shake blossoms, others use a cheap electric toothbrush to vibrate them.
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Old May 9, 2017   #14
Container Guy
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I found a local source for Tomato Tone, and went with a large bag of it now that I know it's usable on my peppers as well. I'm going to use it when repotting my SS100's, and try to work a little in to the soil of my Romas. If I don't see an improvement, I'll give the fish emulsion a try. Thank you all for your information.

We've been having lots high winds shaking my plants, so I thought that would be pollinating them. I also tried rubbing some of the flowers gently together. When I read about sonicating, I wondered about trying it with an electric toothbrush, but decided it probably wouldn't do anything that the wind couldn't. Interesting to hear that other people have actually tried it. I'll give it a shot with half of the current flowers to keep my variables isolated.
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