To start, especially tomatoes, 4 things!
- First, throw a big handful of bone meal in your planting hole and mix it in with your soil. Bone meal is high in Phosphorous (for blooming) and takes 6 to 8 weeks before it starts working – perfect timing! It is also high in calcium, which helps prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes. Water regularly or it won’t help. Fine ground bone meal releases quicker, coarse ground lasts longer.
- Second, throw in a handful of nonfat powdered milk! It’s also high in calcium, that your plant can uptake right away, but more importantly, it is a natural germicide, and boosts your plant’s immune system!!!
- And what about tossing in some worm castings? They have special plant-growth hormones in the humic acids of the castings.
- This is indirect, but makes sense. Sprinkle mycorrhizal fungi ON the roots of your transplants when you plant them! To live, the fungi need the sugars the roots give. The fungi, in turn, make a wonderful web of filaments, mycelium, that work in harmony with your plant, increasing its uptake of nutrients and water, reducing transplant shock, and helps with disease and pathogen suppression! One of the great things mycorrhiza does is assist Phosphorus uptake. Of the NPK on fertilizers, P is Phosphorus that helps roots and flowers grow and develop. Buy them fresh at Island Seed & Feed. Ask them, they will weigh out whatever amount you want. A quarter pound would be $4.99 (2-24-11/Matt). Mycorrhiza & Farmers video
When your plants start blooming
- Sidedress them with seabird quano (NOT bat guano) that is high in phosphorus, stimulates blooms, more blooms! More blooms, more tomatoes!
- Foliar drench or spray with Epsom Salt mix – 1 Tablespoon/watering can. Fastest way to feed plant, and often the most efficient, is to foliar feed it. Epsom Salt, right from your grocery store or pharmacy, is high in magnesium sulfate. Peppers love it too. It really gives your plants a boost, and fruits are bigger, peppers are thicker walled. I drench all my Solanaceaes – toms, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, tomatillos – with Epsom salt. Some say apply 1 tablespoon of granules around each transplant, or spray a solution of 1 tablespoon Epsom salt per gallon of water at transplanting, first flowering, and fruit set.
Fish/kelp mixes are for light feeding, are well balanced, but stinky, even when the fish emulsion is deodorized. If you want a more potent mix, use the hydrolyzed powder. Maxicrop is great stuff!
Along the way, if leaves start yellowing, green ‘em up quick with emergency doctoring! Bloodmeal! It’s very high in quickly usable Nitrogen (N). Dig it lightly into the top soil, water well. Be aware, it and fish/kelp mixes are stinky and bring predators.
Give everybody a little manure, dig into the top 6” of soil, but only on two sides of your plant. We want most of the near-the-surface roots to be undisturbed. Steer manure is cheap. Chicken stores in less space per what it can do, but it can be hot (burn your plants’ roots), so go lightly with it. Lettuces like manures. Compost is good stuff but sometimes not strong enough on N. Sometimes you can get FREE compost from the city.
Again, indirect, but organic mulch not only keeps your soil cool, moist and weed free, but feeds your soil as it decomposes. Apply coarse mulch that decomposes slowly so it doesn’t use up your plants’ Nitrogen in the decomposition process.
Well fed and maintained plants are more disease and pest resistant, are lusty and productive – they pay back with abundant larger tasty fruits and potent seeds for the next generation!
“Earth turns to Gold in the hands of the Wise” Rumi