Feeding the Tomatoes
Happy Summer! The garden is busy soaking up the sunshiny rays and enjoying the daily showers that have been granted us these past few weeks.
The tomatoes have made it past the worst of the early blight, probably since I am spraying them weekly with a fungicide and removing infected leaves daily. I have it down to a manageable state, and for that I am thankful. Although rain is great for their roots, it's awful for blight, so when I do have to water, I lug the watering can up to the garden to keep water from splashing onto their leaves. No more overhead watering for me, which is a bummer, because I love listening to the rhythmic patter of the sprinkler in the morning. The forecast is sunny and dry this week, so I'll be building up some arm muscles with all that water lugging.
I love the fuzzy beginnings of tomatoes.
And those cute little green babies. They seem to take forever to ripen, but once they start, we'll be full up on tomatoes for the rest of the Summer!
When it comes to feeding tomatoes, I like to use two organic products; a granular fertilizer produced by Garden Tone, and a liquid fish fertilizer. Tomatoes are heavy feeders, and I have found that this combination works to keep them happy and vigorous. I prefer organic fertilizers, because not only are they all-natural, but they contain micronutrients and trace elements not found in their chemical counterparts.
The Garden Tone fertilizer is readily available at stores like Lowe's and is quite affordable for being organic. I sprinkle 1/3 cup around each tomato once a month and gently work it into the soil with a garden claw. I always water the plants immediately after fertilizing so the nutrients soak into the soil. This is a mild fertilizer, so don't worry about burning the plants.
You might have to search a little harder locally to find fish fertilizer. I get mine from a "Mom and Pop" seed store out in "the country." Buy it by the gallon, and don't get it from a specialty plant store, or you're going to overpay. Jesse Israel is charging $12 for a quart, whereas I can get a gallon for $20 at the seed store. That gallon will easily last me the entire growing season. Fish fertilizer is pretty darn stinky, but as you use it, the smell becomes endearing. Well, it has for me at least, but I like the smell of manure too, so maybe I'm weird in that regard. Norman (our Pug) goes crazy for fish fertilizer and tries to lick the bottle whenever I am using it. I guess he likes stinky things too! I use it every three weeks at a rate of about 1/4 cup to two gallons of water. This feeds about eight plants, depending on how generous I am feeling that day.
I will also crush up egg shells as we use up all the eggs in a carton and work them gently into the soil around the tomatoes, preferably when the plants are just starting to set fruit. Egg shells provide calcium to the soil, which prevents blossom end rot. The Garden Tone fertilizer contains calcium, but I like to give the plants a little extra boost.
It's not all that much work - just two feedings per month. I wish the weeds were as easy to deal with!