Photo by Jessica Walliser
I always grow a mix of new and favorite tomato varieties.
As always, mid-May is tomato-planting time in my garden. Every year, I grow my favorites plus a few "experimental" varieties, and this year is proving to be no different. I am however, trying something new in the tomato patch. I am experimenting with some different fertilization techniques.
Although I always add compost to my vegetable beds, this year I am also adding some granular and liquid organic fertilizers. I am going to try three different types to see which one brings the best results. I love to conduct little experiments in the garden to find out if all those words of praise on product labels are actually correct.
The first three plants will be fertilized with my favorite organic granular fertilizer, ReVita Compost Plus from Ohio Earth Foods. I love this stuff—it's made primarily from dehydrated poultry manure and kelp. With a N-P-K (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) ratio of 3-3-3 it's a good balance and usually serves me well in the veggie patch. I didn't add any to the tomato bed this year, just so I can see how well this experiment works. I will add a cup or so around each plant's root zone and work it into the soil before planting.
The next three plants will be fertilized with a cup of my homemade fertilizer blend:
- 2 cups rock phosphate (a mined mineral)
- 2 cups greensand (a marine mineral)
- 1/4 cup kelp meal
- 1/2 cup bone meal
I'll mix these all together in bucket and then work a cup of the mix into the soil around the three experimental tomato plants.
The third group of tomato plants will get watered with fish emulsion every three weeks throughout the growing season. I'll douse the root zone as well as the foliage for maximum nutrient absorption. I like a brand called Multi-Bloom that's made from the by-products of the catfish farming industry in Mississippi. It doesn't smell fishy at all (it actually smells minty) and comes in an easy-to-use hose end sprayer so I don't have to mess with mixing it up.
And then my last three plants will remain without supplemental fertilization throughout the growing season. I know it isn't an incredibly scientific experiment as I'm going to be doing it on many different tomato varieties and I'm only going to try my best to keep all the other factors (water amounts, sunlight exposure, et cetera) equal. I'll try to update you periodically throughout the season on my experiment. I'm hoping for some interesting—and tasty—results!
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