This is the time of summer when container grown tomato plants will start to go yellow and look really sad if they aren’t getting enough of the nutrients and minerals they need to be healthy and produce delicious fruit. Folks who grow the Tumbler tomato plants I sell in the spring ask me about what I do to provide the plants with the nourishment they need, so……
……here’s what I do:
I start by mixing up a potting soil (in my wheelbarrow) that’s made of SeaSoil potting mix (from Home Hardware on Mayne Island) some of my compost and some shredded coco coir (for water retention). I fill my growing container with the potting soil mix and then I add about a cup full of complete organic fertilizer and mix it all up and moisten. Then I make a hole and plant the seedling in the hole with some earthworm castings…water…top up with potting soil and lightly press down the soil…that will give the little plant a good start!
Complete organic fertilizer is a mixture of natural ingredients that supply a combination of nitrogen, phosporous and potassium, plus a few other goodies that plants like. I buy these ingredients in bulk and store them in metal bins in the garden. In this photo: bags of alfalfa meal, kelp meal, soft rock phosphate. If you live on Mayne Island and go into Victoria from time to time, 2 good sources of ingredients are Buckerfield’s on Keating Cross and Borden Mercantile near Quadra and Mackenzie. Many farm supply stores carry these ingredients.
The basic recipe I follow:
for nitrogen: 4 parts seed meal (canola, alfalfa)
for phosphorous: 1/2 part soft rock phosphate or bone meal
for potassium: 1/2 part kelp meal or sometimes a mix of kelp meal and greensand
for calcium: 1/2 part dolomite lime and wood ash combined
I often add a little extra bone meal to the mix when making this for tomatoes because I read somewhere that phosphorous encourages the plant to produce more flowers and so therefore more fruit…and I’ve noticed, it really seems to work!
I find that the complete organic fertilizer breaks down in time to continue providing nourishment to the plant after the compost in the pot has been depleted, usually beginning of July. As the plant starts to set and ripen lots of fruit, sometime in July, I like to start watering it with a seaweed tea. This has worked wonderfully for me and my tumbler tomato plants produce loads and loads of delicious red jewels.
There are liquid seaweed concentrates available to buy and I basically make a tea with them by mixing a small amount with water in a watering can….these are 2 that I use….Home Hardware’s garden centre on Mayne is now carrying some of these.
But eventually, I’d like to make my own concentrates for watering and feeding.
These are some old wine barrels we’ve set up to collect rain water from a shed roof. I’m planning to steep all sorts of good things in them to create some lovely homemade feeds for my container plants while I water them….I hope to make concentrates of nettles, comfrey, seaweed, horsetail, manure, compost, etc…but that is another story for another day….now I must be off to water my Tumblers with kelp infusion and harvest some more for dinner!