Fertilizing: Keep It Simple

It is the beginning of August here in Colorado and we just had a bunch of rain.  Rain is good.  I love rain.  And cucumbers love rain. But tomatoes don’t.  They like having drier soil.  And, with all this rain, the nutrients have leeched out of the soil.  I have 8 tomato plants in my garden.  This morning I found that 1/2 were showing signs of distress.  One had a few fruits with blossom end rot and the other had some leaves that were yellowing on the bottom of the plant.  What to do?  I kept it simple by sprinkling a bit of fertilizer around the base of each tomato plant this morning, then I watered the fertilizer in.  That’s all.  In the past it has helped my ailing tomatoes.

I’m not a master gardener so please, if you need more professional advice there are much better websites out there.  I highly suggest the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension.  Great place to go!

But if you are in a hurry, like I am.  Do what I’ve been doing because my tomatoes have been less diseased since doing this.  Buy a couple bags of organic fertilizer.  Pictured below is what I use.  You will see that fertilizer has three numbers (more on that later).  Choose a fertilizer where each of the three numbers are in the range of 3-6 and fairly even across the three.  See these pictures?  That will help.

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Here’s one warning.  See picture below. For most vegetables, don’t buy a fertilizer that has a really high first number (in the 20’s) and two low second numbers.  This is a quick post so I don’t want to get too far into this.  But this fertilizer pictured is one I don’t use anymore.  Why? First, I’ve gone mostly organic.  And second, the first number of the three on the fertilizer bag is the nitrogen level and that is way too high for veggies that are fruit bearing veggies.  This would be ok for leafy veggies like lettuce, or basil or other herbs that you want to grow big busy and GREEN.   If you are having blossom drop (where the blossom dries up and falls off and never turns into fruit) it could be you’ve been using a fertilizer with too high of nitrogen.

 

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Bad picture, but can you see the first number? That is the nitrogen number. Too high for veggies that set fruit. Don’t use this on tomatoes.

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I’m leery of “all purpose” anything, especially fertilizers. But I still keep it simple. I only have the two bags shown above and a bottle of concentrated fish emulsion. I’m an ordinary backyard gardener. I don’t have time to do it fancy.

 

 

 

 

Ok…this was meant to be quick.  I’m running out the door to go take care of Mom.  Love to you all!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • Espoma

    Wow! Great post about the importance of fertilizer numbers. Our Tomato-tone features a N-P-K 3-4-6, that’s 3% nitrogen, 4% phosphorus, and 6%potassium. The perfect balance of food for tomatoes. Thanks for sharing!