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

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Old June 11, 2018   #1
Salsacharley's Avatar
Join Date: May 2013
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 1,885
Default The Standard of Perfection

I've been following AMmark's posts and seeing his unfathomable success in growing tomatoes for the past few years and it finally dawned on me to compare what I'm doing to what he's doing...thanks to his generous sharing of his growing details. At first I just thought I'd try this or that like he does to see how it worked for me. Well, I had mediocre success being a copycat with no attention to details. Somewhere he mentioned his PH and other chemical guidelines and how closely he monitors them. Shoot! I knew I had akaline water with a pretty high PH but I never measured it. When Mark said he had many PC pens it occurred to me that I ought to at least have one and check out where I am compared to him. Well I got a PH pen last year but didn't even know how to calibrate it. After seeing his latest crop I went to a local hydro store and learned how to calibrate mine in hopes of getting closer to his results. I grow outdoors in containers and in the ground and in raised beds. I realize I will never have the marvelous quality or production he has, but if I achieved half of what he does I would be king of the crop around my parts.

Turns out my local city water has a PH of 7.4. Since I'm not hydroponic I'm still not messing with EC or other things besides the chlorine and chloramine at this time. I only now started dechlorinating my water and adjusting my PH to the 6.0 range. Interestingly, Worth suggested some tablespoons of vinegar to lower PH so I compared how much vinegar it takes to lower PH compared to phosphoric acid. One tablespoon of white vinegar lowers PH as much as 1/2 teaspoon of Phosphoric acid. I adjusted a 2 gal watering can from 7.4 PH to 5.9 with one tablespoon of vinegar. That's pretty cool. I really don't know if there are other effects from vinegar compared to phosphoric acid. I'll find out as I compare them in my plant treatments. Now that I have a Standard of Perfection to compare my details to I will continue to strive to achieve what Mark does. I hope to be sending leaves for analysis as he does, but I'm not quite there yet.

These are the kinds of details and effort it takes to excel and I'm only now realizing how much more I have to do to get excellent results. I am extremely grateful to AKmark and Tomatoville for making this info available.

I'm testing the 4-18-38, CANO3, and MGSO4, with 6.0 PH and dechlorinated water on a Sweet Ozark Orange tomato plant, and a Numex Lemon Spice pepper and a Rocotillo pepper plant to see what difference that makes compared to my other plants getting Tomato-tone and aquarium water. I use some Flora Nova Grow on them, too. We'll see what happens.

Here's a shot of the three test plants at this point, all recovering from severe hail damage.
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File Type: jpg 061118 lemon spice.jpg (324.7 KB, 88 views)
File Type: jpg 061118 rocotillo.jpg (365.2 KB, 88 views)
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Old June 11, 2018   #2
PureHarvest's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Mid-Atlantic right on the line of Zone 7a and 7b
Posts: 1,295

You can use the tomato formula for peppers and cukes, but they need more N than tomatoes.
Here is how HG handles that without you having to buy their pepper or cuke formula:

"Yes, you can grow other plants with the Chem-Gro tomato formula 4-18-38. Certain plants like cucumbers or peppers need a little more nitrogen. So, you will need to supplement those plants with extra nitrogen. Here is what we recommend:

Dilute 1 teaspoon (1 tsp) of Calcium Nitrate (CaNO3) in 1 gallon of water. Each plant will get 1 cup of that solution 1 time per week.
This is done in addition to your daily watering with water mixed with the 4-18-38 according to the proper mixing rates for your age of plants."

I have my cukes on the same injector system as my tomatoes, but do the above once a week. I have picked 30 cucumbers in the last 2 weeks from 12 plants. And the plants are loaded with various sized fruit from top to bottom still. I'm doing the umbrella style trellising system. Plants are almost to the wire.
Next year I will probably cut the number in plants by half...
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Old June 11, 2018   #3
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Wasilla Alaska
Posts: 1,843

Your plant looks good. I would buy an EC meter, then all the guessing is gone, you will know precisely what your plants are being fed.

We just share info, and most of us still have a lot to learn too.
Good luck, keep the updates coming.
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Old June 11, 2018   #4
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Romania/Germany , z 4-6
Posts: 1,156

Seems good. You should be able to estimate the EC without a meter. 1g/l usually gives around 1.2-1.4 extra ec, and 2g/l around 2.5. For young plants you want to stay somewhat low, under 1g/l I would say.
Maybe there is online an analysis of your tap water. That would help to see the starting EC, by the amount of phosphoric acid (60%?) it seems not to be too high. For your water I would have used something with less nitrate, probaly a 60% ammonium would have been better to keep the pH more stable in the media.
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