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side dress tomatoes

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side dress tomatoes

Post  buttaflie143 on 6/13/2011, 12:40 pm

My tomato plants are finally producing some friut after weeks of blooms. I believe I read somewhere that you should apply a side dressing to tomato plants when they start producing fruit. Is this true? If so, what should I use and how do I do it?
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Re: side dress tomatoes

Post  quiltbea on 6/13/2011, 1:37 pm

Sidedressing usually means to place a cupful of good compost around the plant away from the stem. Make a little furrow and add the compost, from midway to about the dripline of the plant. Water it in and the rain will take care of it from then on.

Or you can use a liquid organic fertilizer, fish emilsion or liquid kelp and follow directions on the container.
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Re: side dress tomatoes

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/13/2011, 2:15 pm

I have also heard the exact opposite. My tomato guru is a lady I cut grass for. I mimic everything she does....except mine are in MM and a grid....lol. She fertilizes like mad, while suckering and pruning, until the first flowers set. Once they set, she doesn't apply anything else again. Not even a balanced fertilizer.

Her "theory" is that they use all the nitrogen to grow big and green....leading to more flower production. Once the flowers come out all the energy goes to fruiting and she no longer wants to encourage new green growth beyond what the roots can handle/support.

She has the most beautiful tomatoes every year by late summer. It's pretty amazing. And, she swears that's all there is to it.
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Re: side dress tomatoes

Post  acara on 6/13/2011, 5:55 pm

I was taught that your both correct Very Happy

So the "hybrid theory" is ....

Yes, fertilize at first fruit, because the plant exaust nutrients during growth, and burns them at an even higher rate when flowering/fruiting (see below)

No, you don't ever fertilize with a high-nitrogen fertilizer after you see first fruit, because the Nitrogen will jump-start the leave/stem production, which is counterproductive to fruit production (so use the lowest "N" product you can find).

As far as "gospel", there isn't any IMHO .... I've heard both theories Buttaflie and BBG mentioned though .... and a few others.

If it helps to muddy the waters even more .... Mel's says you don't need to fertilize with MM at all Smile
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Re: side dress tomatoes

Post  buttaflie143 on 6/13/2011, 9:15 pm

@acara wrote:If it helps to muddy the waters even more .... Mel's says you don't need to fertilize with MM at all Smile

I know, but Mel is assuming the compost we add to our mix is optimal. I used a premixed blend and it was certainly not optimal. Sad Anyways, I don't want to do anything that is going to be counter productive to my plants producing fruit, but I do want plentiful and healthy tomatoes, so maybe a little side dressing with an organic fertilizer with a low Nitrogen content. Any suggestions?
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