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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #1
SueCT
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Default Does EVERYONE fertilize their tomatoes?

Had a soil test done a few years ago. Been confused ever since. I was told at the time by Univ. Of CT that I had too much organic matter and all nutrients were too high. They suggested too much compost or overuse of fertilizers. I had been using a lot of purchased compost, adding some each year. But tomatoes seemed to do quite well. Always looking for even better results, I added some plain purchased soil the next year because I supposedly had too high a percentage of organic matter to soil. Tomatoes went down hill. The next year I added a locally produced soil/compost combination that they call "super soil" that others have used with good results locally. Tomatoes did better again. Not as good as before the soil test, but definitely better. I have not been fertilizing. Plants tend to get kinda pale after being planted, but then green up as they grow, so maybe it is the cool soil or night temps in spring and not the soil. Since I can never have enough tomatoes, would fertilizing likely increase production? I used to fertilize a couple times or three times a year, sometimes only once depending on my level of laziness and how hot it was that year.

Do you just assume that the plants need it, do you get regular soil tests, wait until you see signs of nutrient problems, or only use compost because you feel fertilizer isn't necessary in well amended soil? I don't want to waste money or pollute the soil with excess fertilizer, but I need to maximize the productivity of each plant if possible because I don't have a large garden.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #2
mjc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SueCT View Post
Had a soil test done a few years ago. Been confused ever since. I was told at the time by Univ. Of CT that I had too much organic matter and all nutrients were too high.
Somebody was smoking something...there is no such thing as too much organic matter.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #3
Redbaron
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjc View Post
Somebody was smoking something...there is no such thing as too much organic matter.
I would tend to agree. I certainly never saw too much organic matter before. I start my seedlings in a vermiculite mix, but once they get repotted I use a 50/50 blend of peat and compost. That's almost 100% organic matter and tomatoes love it.

And to answer your OP, No, typically I do not fertilize beyond the original set out into the field where I do use ferts to "mud them in".(mostly compost tea)
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #4
Worth1
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I'm not going to let some egg head in a lab tell me what my soil and garden needs to that extent.
These guys are painting by the numbers as far as I am concerned.

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #5
Redbaron
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Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
I'm not going to let some egg head in a lab tell me what my soil and garden needs to that extent.
These guys are painting by the numbers as far as I am concerned.

Worth
There is an exception though. One of the soil scientists at the USDA came up with his own new soil test protocol specifically to deal with the inconsistencies of the old "chemistry set" tests. The Haney test.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #6
gdaddybill
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Default Just read the garden

Fifteen years ago when I was in Extension the nitrogen recommendation was a guess job based on the fertilization schedule you reported. This was for the basic test and there were more elaborate techniques if you could get them. In all honesty for the home gardener learning to read your plants is your best bet. pH of course is easy to test for and personally I use 12-14 cu yds of mushroom compost per year. I'm buried in tomatoes, eggplants and peppers right now!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg tomatoes after rain3HWM.jpg (309.6 KB, 243 views)
File Type: jpg Tomato & Naked Seeded pumpkin harvest3V_2017WM.jpg (348.3 KB, 244 views)

Last edited by gdaddybill; 2 Weeks Ago at 09:44 AM. Reason: add photos
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #7
Worth1
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I used to live next to the San Saba county extension agent.
He was a very smart guy and taught me a lot when I was 28.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #8
b54red
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For many years I only added some fertilizer when preparing the beds along with lots of compost and organic matter like manures. As the season went on I did notice after the first good rush of fruit that the plants tended to slow down a lot so I started fertilizing at that point and it definitely helped production and plant health. I decided to experiment and with two beds prepared the same I treated one normally and the other I tried fertilizing every 10 days or so. The production from the bed getting the nearly weekly feeding was much better. I was using Miracle Grow at the time. When I found Texas Tomato Food and started feeding with it every week to 10 days I got a significant jump in not just healthier plants but far more fruit set and far more production for a longer time.

I start out giving the young tomato seedlings a lower than recommended dose of Texas Tomato Food fertilizer up til the time they start blooming then I give them the full one TBS to the gallon ratio every week to 10 days. My production and fruit set has been phenomenal since. I now use this method with most of my vegetables but with most other than tomatoes I use the Vegetable formula fertilizer from Urban Farms and the results have been really amazing.

Bill
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #9
Cole_Robbie
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I too had to laugh at the "soil too rich" comment. Somehow I suspect the fertilizer companies had a hand in shaping those guidelines. What they mean is, your soil is too rich to sell you any chemical fertilizers.

I'm sure I also suffer from the same problem. I have drip irrigation and an injector, but even adding just a little chem ferts burns the heck out of my plants. Dark soil and compost contain humic acid, which accelerates nutrient uptake. This is a real problem....for the fertilizer company.

Here's a pic of one of my dwarf plants from last year. It looks like an ad trying to sell fertilizer, but the plant did not have anything other than good soil:
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File Type: jpg 0620161932-0022222222222.jpg (129.4 KB, 237 views)
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #10
SueCT
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Thank you, everyone. I had started reading the thread about the Texas Tomaato Food a couple of times, yesterday read about the first 3-5 pages, lol, but its 11 pages long now! So I just ordered some. I am going to try it and see what happens. I am sure I won't use it all this season, so I just need to remember to bring it in the house and not leave in the garage all winter so it will still be good next year.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #11
SueCT
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That is amazing, Cole Robbie, and I would be so excited to get that! I am a long way. I do get good production from some varieties more than others, and they change from year to year, but not like that.

Interesting video, Redbaron, I watched it all. Really geared for farmers, but makes some good points about how little we still know about soil and how it works with plants and how little we have progressed over the decades.

Beautiful pictures, Gdaddybill!
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #12
gorbelly
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Looks like you got an incompetent person to interpret your results and give you advice. It happens.

I fertilize my tomatoes weekly at a diluted rate with TTF. I get more production and happier plants. I also use it, with the addition of fish emulsion for extra N, on my squash, eggplants, and peppers. I'm happy with the results--more fruit set, more blooms, fewer aborted fruits and flowers than when I wasn't using fertilizers or was only using organic granular fertilizers like Tomato Tone.

A pet peeve of mine is people who sneer at fertilizer use or spread false information such as "fertilizer destroys the soil" or "plants get addicted to fertilizer" or "fertilizer destroys the environment". It's all about wise and correct use of the available tools.

I also use compost (municipal compost, my own vermicompost, and Black Kow) and grow cover crops (favas, tillage radishes, winter peas, oats) and add that biomatter back into my soil, along with plenty of leaves and other additional organic matter during the off months. I create microhabitats for beneficial predators and wildlife to work with them to manage pests. I only use organic fungicides, preferring biological ones, and I only use pesticides (organic, preferably highly host-specific and biological) on the very rare occasions I get a plague of small but destructive pests (mites, thrips) that can't be easily dispatched through hand-picking or a blast with the hose. Most of the time, I leave most pests alone and let them do minor damage in order to maintain an active predator/prey balance in my garden. People like me are not, as so many purist garden Nazis on the Internet accuse me of being, lazy people who disrespect nature looking for an easy out with synthetic fertilizers or whatever.

But I still see a marked benefit from using fertilizer regularly. Reality is often inconvenient for both ideology and theory.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #13
oakley
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I may be a bit cooler than you being up in the Catskill Mountains but we all have some
challenges in the NEast. Temps all over the place. One good thing consistent is nice
weekly rain, not too much. Every season is different for sure, but my tomatoes seem
to do really well every year, some better than others but never a total bust.

I have raised beds kept clean. Amending a bit in the early Spring with compost, worm
poo. Double dig in some peat as well as TomatoTone. (no longer in each planting hole
as a critter took a liking last year and dug some plants up). Straw mulch, cover for the
winter...

I use Neptune and TTF but light a week or so after planting, then again around fruit set
but no set formula...usually after some rain so it goes deep. I'm pretty stingy with the
feeding.
Even experimenting in different beds over the years, production is what it is and no
real noticeable difference. I have a stable of favorites that do well, mostly hearts.
SunGold and CubanYellowGrape, and now GGWT are standouts. Nothing in the 'early'
category of hybrids do well at all.

I just grow many and satisfied with a full freezer lasting all winter...

Envious of Southern growers stash....yet with a full summer season often lasting into
early October, it is not that short after all. Might even match that production.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #14
RayR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redbaron View Post
There is an exception though. One of the soil scientists at the USDA came up with his own new soil test protocol specifically to deal with the inconsistencies of the old "chemistry set" tests. The Haney test.
I love Rick Haney's presentations on YouTube, very educational.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #15
BigVanVader
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Well while not a bad thing, to much organic matter has been shown to lower yields. This couple (who were soil biologist or something before farming) use no till and found that beyond 6-8% you get diminishing returns & in some cases to production is lower. Singing Frogs Farm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAn5YxL1PbM&t=2780s
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