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tomatoes are looking bad

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  bnoles on 5/31/2013, 12:35 pm

jazzycat wrote:bnoles, removing the air bubbles? What does that mean? I brewed the tea, and then just poured it around the base of the plants. Do you mean just taking the air stones out of the bucket? thinking Mine are mulched with cedar chips. I thought cedar would help keep pests out. Not so much though.

Oh, I forgot to mention, when I spoke the gentleman from the County Extension Office, he also mentioned something about BT. So I guess I need to go read up on that and see if it's something I want to use, and how it will effect the animal population, like the frogs, bees, cats, etc.

Removing the air stones is what I meant... sometimes words don't come to me the way they used to before the meds What a Face I have never used cedar chips so I can't help you there.


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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  camprn on 5/31/2013, 12:42 pm

There are various ways to make compost tea. Making a comfrey tea concentrate or I personally subscribe to the shovelful of compost in a 5 gallon bucket, fill with water, stir and use in 24 hours.
Some folks like to aerate their brew......... that's too much work for me.

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  bnoles on 5/31/2013, 1:11 pm

camprn wrote:There are various ways to make compost tea. Making a comfrey tea concentrate or I personally subscribe to the shovelful of compost in a 5 gallon bucket, fill with water, stir and use in 24 hours.
Some folks like to aerate their brew......... that's too much work for me.

Hi camprn,

I like the sounds of your method, do you add anything other than compost? I have been throwing in some fish goo, sea weed, and molasses using the air stones. Do you think I could do the same and not use the air stones or would it go sour?

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  camprn on 5/31/2013, 1:15 pm

bnoles wrote:
camprn wrote:There are various ways to make compost tea. Making a comfrey tea concentrate or I personally subscribe to the shovelful of compost in a 5 gallon bucket, fill with water, stir and use in 24 hours.
Some folks like to aerate their brew......... that's too much work for me.

Hi camprn,

I like the sounds of your method, do you add anything other than compost? I have been throwing in some fish goo, seaweed, and molasses using the air stones. Do you think I could do the same and not use the air stones or would it go sour?
Nope, Typically I don't need to add anything besides the compost. I am a minimalist. If a wee bit of something works, I like that, and beside I don't like to knock myself out or give all my money away (for amendments) if I don't have to.

Compost tea won't go sour if you use it the next day.

Keeping it simple... Oh yeah! flower

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  bnoles on 5/31/2013, 1:25 pm

Thanks camprn, I think I'll go throw me a bucket together this evening and give it a go the "simple" way.

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  jazzycat on 5/31/2013, 1:30 pm

I put off making the tea because I thought it was going to be a hassle. But it was easy. I could kick myself for not doing it sooner. I feel like if I had, I might not be having some of these issues now.

I like using the air stones. According to some people it "wakes up" the microbes and fungi more and makes the tea better. I have no idea if this is correct or not, but it makes sense to me. I'll be brewing another batch in a few days, and this times I will brew a lot more. The last batch didn't go nearly as far as I expected it to.

So how much tea do you guys apply anyway? And do you just pour it around the base of plants, or what? Do you dilute it, or use it full strength? I have one 3'x12' bed, one 3'x10' bed, and two 3'x2' beds. How much would you use on each of these? Last time I brewed a half cup of compost tea in a 3 1/2 gallon bucket and then diluted it to half strength. I poured around 1 cup per plant, but I really didn't have enough to go around.

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  boffer on 5/31/2013, 3:06 pm

jazzycat wrote:...So how much tea do you guys apply anyway?...

I would love to see a well researched thread on compost tea. I believe that there is a lot of inaccurate information being passed around on the internet as fact.

Commercial farmers use compost tea to add living micro-organisms to their fields that are heavily fertilized with chemicals. If they don't, the soil becomes barren. For a field that hasn't been too abused with chemicals, the application rate is 5 gallons per acre.
Professionally, teas aren't used for their major nutrients content. (NPK)

Teas can be aerated and non-aerated, and different recipes can be used to fit the desired application.

I wonder if the use of compost tea for the micro-organisms is redundant when used on growing mediums of high compost content like MM.

Using teas as a foliar spray is another topic altogether.
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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  camprn on 5/31/2013, 3:16 pm

boffer wrote:
I wonder if the use of compost tea for the micro-organisms is redundant when used on growing mediums of high compost content like MM.

Using teas as a foliar spray is another topic altogether.
I would have to say it would not be redundant for 1st or 2nd year beds. When you get to the 3rd year there is virtually no MM left, which is perfectly fine. If the plants are not giving signs of being hungry, there is no real reason to feed them. That is the simplest way for me to put it.

After a few years and when you get to know your plants and your growing year, you may anticipate the needs of certain plants that are in particular heavy feeders.
Another good reason to keep a garden journal.

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  jazzycat on 5/31/2013, 4:17 pm

camprn I keep a journal but it's mostly with pictures. I think I need to start writing in it more. I believe it will be very valuable to me next year.

boffer, I got most of the information about compost tea from John Kohler, and because I don't have an actual compost pile yet, I buy the tea blend from Boogie Brew. I really those guys. Smile

So if farmers are using the tea 5 gallons per acre, maybe I am using about the right amount. Maybe I could even use less. I'm going to us it as a foliar spray next time, along with putting it in the soil.

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  plantoid on 5/31/2013, 4:26 pm

Boffer,
Re your last post here.
Teas.. the bacteria that breaks down the matter in the soils / beds they will " build " the soil / bed and also decay according to the weather and the bed make up.
So I don't think you've any worries unless you're flooding the area daily with buckets of tea and even then I feel it would will show up as rotting plants in the first instance.
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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  llama momma on 5/31/2013, 4:37 pm

jazzycat wrote: I did use a LOT of worm castings.)

You can over use worm castings and stunt plant growth. Just thought I'd throw that in the mix too!!
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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  jazzycat on 6/7/2013, 9:45 pm

llama momma wrote:
jazzycat wrote: I did use a LOT of worm castings.)

You can over use worm castings and stunt plant growth. Just thought I'd throw that in the mix too!!

hmmmm... how much is too much? I used it as one of my compost blends. I used less than everything else, but not by a lot.

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  sanderson on 6/8/2013, 12:15 am

Jazzycat, Sanderson here. Earlier in this thread, I described what I did to try to save some of my tomatoes that were in large pots. They are definitely improving. New growths are looking normal. Also, earlier this week, I added playground bark, plain old chipped up virgin forest trees. Light colored. I hope you get your back to health.
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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  jazzycat on 6/8/2013, 2:11 am

bnoles wrote:Hi Jazzy,

I have all of my tomatoes in self watering 5 gallon buckets and on a automatic self watering system. I top water about twice a week and also give them a cup full of compost tea every week to 10 days. I have no pest or plant issues of any nature and they have grown almost twice my expectations and are loaded with fruits. I keep all the lower leaves and branches trimmed for air circulation. I am thinking of giving them a calcium snack which will keep them healthy and ward off any chance of BER.

I don't feel that I am doing anything too special, but thought I would offer up my routine so you have something to compare to.

Good luck and I hope you can correct the problem soon.


Just went back and reread the thread. How do you give the plants a "calcium snack?" Do epsom salts help with calcium? Finely ground up egg shells? Tums?

I saw your garden, which ROCKS, btw, and I was wondering, how exactly do you set up self-watering buckets to a timer? (I'm assuming you use a timer, because you said they're automatic.)

The plants seem to be doing a little better, since I've been giving them compost tea. I think the last two days of rain might also be helping, even though they were getting plenty of water. (I think rainwater is good for them.) The ph is off though. I need to figure out how to lower it some.

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  jazzycat on 6/8/2013, 2:12 am

sanderson wrote:Jazzycat, Sanderson here. Earlier in this thread, I described what I did to try to save some of my tomatoes that were in large pots. They are definitely improving. New growths are looking normal. Also, earlier this week, I added playground bark, plain old chipped up virgin forest trees. Light colored. I hope you get your back to health.

Thanks sanderson. Smile I'm glad to hear your plants are better.

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  bnoles on 6/8/2013, 6:15 am

jazzycat wrote:
bnoles wrote:Hi Jazzy,

I have all of my tomatoes in self watering 5 gallon buckets and on a automatic self watering system. I top water about twice a week and also give them a cup full of compost tea every week to 10 days. I have no pest or plant issues of any nature and they have grown almost twice my expectations and are loaded with fruits. I keep all the lower leaves and branches trimmed for air circulation. I am thinking of giving them a calcium snack which will keep them healthy and ward off any chance of BER.

I don't feel that I am doing anything too special, but thought I would offer up my routine so you have something to compare to.

Good luck and I hope you can correct the problem soon.


Just went back and reread the thread. How do you give the plants a "calcium snack?" Do epsom salts help with calcium? Finely ground up egg shells? Tums?

I saw your garden, which ROCKS, btw, and I was wondering, how exactly do you set up self-watering buckets to a timer? (I'm assuming you use a timer, because you said they're automatic.)

The plants seem to be doing a little better, since I've been giving them compost tea. I think the last two days of rain might also be helping, even though they were getting plenty of water. (I think rainwater is good for them.) The ph is off though. I need to figure out how to lower it some.

Hi Jazzy,

Here is a link to a video that explains the automatic watering system I use.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIqssok6iXI

A "calcium snack" is CaNO3 also known as calcium nitrate and is used to boost the calcium and ward off BER. It can be used by mixing a small amount in your watering can to top water with. Not sure of it is considered "organic" though. I am not sure if epson salts contain calcium or not, but I do not think they do.

Most important is to keep the tomatoes well watered, they require lots and lots of water especially when the heat gets up and it is important to keep the water consistent, in other words, do not let them dry out and then try to flood them to make up. Water well every day and even twice per day if needed. This is the reason I like the automatic watering method for this purpose.

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  llama momma on 6/8/2013, 7:35 am

jazzycat wrote:
llama momma wrote:
jazzycat wrote: I did use a LOT of worm castings.)

You can over use worm castings and stunt plant growth. Just thought I'd throw that in the mix too!!

hmmmm... how much is too much? I used it as one of my compost blends. I used less than everything else, but not by a lot.

Re: You say, "how much is too much?" According to the classic book on worms, Worms Eat My Garbage, an extreme example is growing plants in pure castings. That was too much, it stunted plants and believed to be from the high salt content of castings. Since you are mixing it into your compost that's great but it is worth noting from the book that studies show just 5% worm castings has been shown to improve plant growth. I'd like to know myself what is the breaking point where it harms plants. There is probable no easy answer as I bet the salt tolerance level for plants differ too.

I haven't found exact amounts to use on plants. If anyone has please respond!

This is the first time using castings on transplants, decided to use about 2 tablespoons per transplant and see what happens. Also trying out worm tea. I believe 100% in my compost alone but curious to see if there is any notable difference with added castings.
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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  jazzycat on 6/9/2013, 12:04 am

Wow. llama momma, I wish I had known that, because those worm castings are expensive, and I could've cut way down on them and saved a ton of money! Shocked

bnoles, I don't think epsom salts have calcium in them, but don't they have magnesium and sulfur? I thought those all worked synergistically, hence, the question. I suppose powdered milk, along with epsom salts might be good. Or not. I have used epsom salts once, about a 10 days ago, and compost tea (twice) over about the same amount of time, and there does seem to be some improvement.

Tomorrow I'm going to just go buy some kind of fertilizer, possibly one specifically for tomatoes. Any suggestions as to what I should use? I was going to just use fish emulsion, but that's mostly nitrogen, so if I use that, I feel like I should combine it with something. It will probably be several days before I can go to the extension office, if I need to.

I'm seriously thinking of going back to college specifically to take some courses in plant physiology and biology. I'm so regretting not taking the Master Gardeners class back in January.

Thanks for the input. I really appreciate it. Smile

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  llama momma on 6/9/2013, 6:14 am

jazzycat wrote:
I'm seriously thinking of going back to college specifically to take some courses in plant physiology and biology. I'm so regretting not taking the Master Gardeners class back in January.

I just completed the Master Gardener classes. So many topics are covered Jazzycat, if you get another chance, you would learn a lot of broad introductory knowledge ranging from trees, lawns, veggies, diseases, biology, pests, etc.

To go deeply into a single topic like vegetables, you may want to consider college level courses specifically in vegetable production/vegetable science areas in addition to plant physiology and biology too. I took a few college elective classes in those areas. The problem was the time frame - learning detailed info 35 yrs. ago then try to dredge up old memory banks for current use....not so easy.

My only beef with the Master Gardener classes is it was only 8 weeks long, very short for so many topics covered, yet soo much was learned by everyone in the class. Another plus, after classes are over, it opens the door for many learning opportunities to concentrate on a particular interest and build knowledge.
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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  Turan on 6/9/2013, 2:51 pm

I have used espoma's tomato-tone with reasonable results. It is an organic blend.

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Post  Yardslave on 6/9/2013, 8:06 pm

Jazzycat,
I know that the worm tea will boost a plant's resistance to diseases , so have at it! I would also take a tablespoon of Epsom salts and mix it in a gallon of water, water the leaves and give the plant 1/2 of the gallon. The Epsom salts will green up the plants ultra-fast, because it helps boost photosynthesis. Lots of gardeners can confuse the yellow leaves as an iron deficiency and will give the plant iron- and the plant doesn't respond.

If you are worried about calcium deficiency (does the fruit have a black bottom on it?) the fastest way I know of getting calcium to the roots is with ordinary powdered milk; just 2 or 3 tbs/gal. per plant in 2 qt. of water. That calcium isn't bound, so the plant should take it up pretty fast.

The source of the black spots may be in response to sicking insects-could those be wounds?
Hope you find an answer...
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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  jazzycat on 6/9/2013, 11:20 pm

Yardslave , I found one small fruit today with a blackish bottom, but it might be catfacing. It's too early to tell.

I will be doing the tea again in couple of days, if it doesn't rain. Should I do the epsom salts on an alternative day?

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Re: tomatoes are looking bad

Post  Yardslave on 6/10/2013, 5:47 pm

Jazzycat, Go ahead and give the Epsom salts along with the tea, it won't bother the plants or weaken the effects of the tea. As a matter of fact, I've added Epsom salts to the tea as it's brewing and haven't seen a problem. If you want to, give the Epsom salts first and chase it with the tea to help drive it to the roots faster.
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