Fertilizing Tomatoes was Sungold splitting problems

gleneco1 at juno.com gleneco1 at juno.com
Sun Mar 17 02:12:36 EST 2002



> and they were planted with bone meal, blood meal and alfalfa meal 
> "in the
> hole" and fertilized with fish and kelp once or twice, which is 
> about all I
> ever do with tomatoes.

This looks to me almost like overkill when it comes to fertilizing
tomatoes especially with the high nitrogen ingredients blood meal,
alfalfa meal, and fish meal..  I have learned from experience that too
much nitrogen on a tomato crop is not a good idea.  I would like to share
a few of my stories.

Years ago I cleaned out the chaf from some hay racks where we had been
feeding alfalfa hay to a dairy herd and used it to mulch tomatoes and
potatoes.  We got phenominal vine growth on both crops that year but a
disappointing yield of tomatoes and potatoes both from a standpoint of
size of fruits and overall yield.  Two years ago I had a similar
experience when I spread a light application of "grow out" poultry litter
over all of my garden plots in the early spring.  I remember realizing as
I did it that this stuff was pretty hot with nitrogen so I ran the
tractor as fast as I could over the field with the lowest unload setting
on the spreader,  thinking that with a light application it would be ok
for the tomatoes.  Once again the tomatoes took off with an astoundingly
rapid vegetative growth with many plants eventually reaching over ten
feet in height.  Fruit set was delayed several weeks but then started
yielding ripe tomatoes like a house afire in mid August.  Then blight
moved in and spread like a house afire and by the end of the first week
in September it was all over.  Once again too much nitrogen apparently
set the stage with too much and too rapid vegetative growth, delayed
fruit set, and finally lowered blight resistence.  I ended up with
significant loss in production on both ends of the growing season.

> I do plan to fertilize more regularly this year and would be 
> interested to
> know how frequently you all do this 

I usually put several tablespoons of "Tomato Tone" (made by "Espoma") a
high organic granular fertilizer similar in appearance and content to
Garden Alive's "Tomatoes Alive" but less expensive, into the hole at
transplanting time and have been getting good results.  I occasionally
add a little more TT around fruit set or maybe a foliar seaweed
application at this time but this doesn't always get done.  I generally
think of the most important nutrient needs of tomatoes in the following
order:  Potash-Phoshorus-Calcium-Magnesium-Nitrogen-Boron-Sulfur.  I
usually have acess to aged cow manure which I consider to be a good
organic solonaceous crop fertilizer becouse of it's relatively low N
content and it's relatively high K(Potash) content.  Assuming that your
soil is already in a reasonably good level of fertility, I think it is
better to underfertilize than to overfertilize tomatoes and other crops
in it's family.  

> will probably use the soy meal 
> and
> bone meal "in the hole" this year but they will be planted into a 
> section
> that is planted with spring peas right now for cover.

I would go easy on the soy meal if you are planting into a cover of
spring peas.  N levels should be adequate.

"It was recommended that the grower increase his nutrient
concentration by almost 50% (from an EC of 24 to 34)" 

Could the person who made this statement clarify what he meant?

Marlin Burkholder APS
Shenandah Valley in Virginia

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