Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tomato fertilization: crazy talk?

A little early to be talking about this, but when there is a vegetable garden involved, tomatoes invariably come to mind (if you don't like tomatoes, BLASPHEMY! ;)

Anyways, the first year I ever grew tomatoes was embarassing.  I didn't quite understand the concept of pinching off the suckers/off shoots/axis shoots, and ended up with a BARE tomato stem with a mere 3 leaves per tomato plant.  So stupid...

The year after that (and learning to be smarter, I did real research) I planted my tomato seedlings to their first axis and gave them a cute foil ring around the base and just below the surface of the stem to prevent dreaded cut worms (which I have never encounter, yea!)  Prior to planting the tomato seedlings though, I placed a whole uncracked raw egg at the bottom of the hole.

I read in theory, there's sulfur in the egg and nutrients such as calcium in it that will make your tomato grow well.  I admit, the tomatoes went GANGBUSTERS that year (though anything compared to my first year might be considered awesome).

I would like to add that after I pulled up my tomatoes at the end of the season my dog got VERY interested in the hole the tomato was in and as it turned out, at least one egg was still uncracked and chilling just fine where I first placed it so many months ago.

Of course until my dog decided she wanted to eat it.

Then the egg cracked and the smell proved that no, not fresh anymore ;P  Ick.

Anyways, as I continue to read and learn about gardening (because it never stops?!) I keep running into all sorts of random thoughts and ideas as to how best to fertilize or give your tomato plants a good start. 

A recent tip was to add hair to the hole you're planting your tomatoes in, because of the "trace amounts of sulfur" in your hair (your hair does smell sulfur-y when it's burnt).  Unless you've been saving your hair... (which I do... I always figured that it was compostable anyways and it's so easy to save when it's in your  brush or on the shower floor, sorry for that image, I know some of you are squeamish about hair), but I also can only assume my dog's fur/hair would work in the same concept and considering the way she sheds, it's great to find the dog is still finding ways to pay her way in this house!

If only she was a reliable hole digger...

Another tip was to use leftover raw fish parts/bones to bury in with your tomato plant.  You think cats like fish? Well so does my dog.  Actually, she LOVES fish. She ended up having to be quarantined from the yard for some weeks after that. 

Anyone else have any interesting or bizarre "How to fertilize your tomato plants?" ideas/tips that I might be unaware of?  (compost tea, and seaweed excepting)  It's interesting to see what our tomato-phile loving culture does to make the best and most delicious 'maters!


Anonymous said...

I've heard a Tums (and egg shells) added to the hole will keep the plants from having Blossom End Rot due to the calcium in them.

Anonymous said...

Hey there! I use tums and it works like a charm every time. But it takes more than one What I do is crush a whole roll of tums with calcium up into a two gallon watering can once a week and use it to water the plants. Once it gets over 90 - 95 degrees the heat affects the plants ability to take in calcium from the soil, which causes blossom end rot. The supplemental calcium helps prevent this from happening but if it's already an issue, starting the tums will keep the next flush from having it too.

Anonymous said...

Oh! I have another one that really is strange, though. I heard about this through an old friend who was a country girl from Mississippi and my father says that it really works. They say that if you are having problems with tomatoes setting fruit to go into the garden and shake your plants. Crazy, huh? Well, often, 95 plus temps cause tomato plants to stop producing as many flowers. Less flowering means less chance of pollination, right? We don't have a whole lot of wind at those temperatures either so shaking the plants yourself would cause pollin to fly all over the plant thus allowing for more chances of pollination! That's Dawn logic anyway, but when it comes to gardening in this area, our heat-stroked minds will try to make sense out of anything that might help to squeeze out one more fruit!

persephone said...

@ALL: Sorry for the delay in responding, I was on a very last minute trip for the last 5 days and had things scheduled to post, but no internet access during my trip

@kermit/dawn: AWESOME! I have totally passed on that info to a friend who recently was having potential calcium issues. I've never used tums, but it sounds like a great idea. Think the plants would like cherry flavor?

The shaking thing for the plants is pretty smart. I've done that to my citrus plants before, but I think that was more out of frustration :P