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General discussion regarding the techniques and methods used to successfully grow tomato plants in containers.

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Old April 24, 2021   #1
AKmark
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Default Organic container mix

For the last couple of years we have been experimenting with organic twists on container growing. My real business is a retail GH where we sell flowers, trees, shrubs, perennials, garden starts, etc, etc. Many of my customers are inclined to lean organic for whatever reason. There are many they tell me about. With that all said, we have been working with the Down To Earth line. We made a general use out of Bloodmeal- Feather Meal, (N) Fish Bone Meal (P) (Ca), Langbenite (K) (MgSO4) and Azomite- trace elements/ micro elements.

We did the mix in raised beds with composted dirt- follow directions, set up bed, as well as containers of various blends including straight pro mix.

The raised beds were awesome, fantastic production, containers, eehh, ho-hum, we need to work on those.

Who else has, and is, fiddling with similar fertilizers? What are your feed rates and results?
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Old April 24, 2021   #2
biscuitridge
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Could you taste the difference between organic and chemical ferts? I've always tasted a difference, organic has always had more flavor and sweeter. I use pretty much the same ingredients plus more. I've had the same problem with containers as well, they done marginally compared to raised beds.,though I haven't put much effort into it because I can grow so much more and easier in raised beds. I'm delighted to see you have been working on this way of growing. I'd be interested in hearing the amounts of amendments that you are using.
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Old April 26, 2021   #3
AKmark
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biscuitridge View Post
Could you taste the difference between organic and chemical ferts? I've always tasted a difference, organic has always had more flavor and sweeter. I use pretty much the same ingredients plus more. I've had the same problem with containers as well, they done marginally compared to raised beds.,though I haven't put much effort into it because I can grow so much more and easier in raised beds. I'm delighted to see you have been working on this way of growing. I'd be interested in hearing the amounts of amendments that you are using.
I think growing with chemical fertilizer can produce as good tasting of a tomato as any other means. I have ate many side by side through the years. I'll find an article for you on the value of K on flavor. We also are good with our moisture levels, this makes a real difference, we also don't have rain on our plants. Besides unhealthy plants, I think these issues matter more when it comes to flavor. You know that washed out bland taste? For business purposes I am really throwing a lot at the organic side of things. I used to grow in raised beds for years, and now I am simply better as a grower than I was 25 years ago, so I am excited. People want to learn organic gardening for several reasons.

I followed the directions on each box. I am a label reader type. lol The broccoli, Cauliflower, cabbage, everything... was very healthy. I also just gave it water for the Summer after I set it up. I have a little YouTube of it online somewhere. The wife makes me do that stuff, she's the boss. LOL

Last edited by AKmark; April 27, 2021 at 12:20 AM.
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Old April 27, 2021   #4
zipcode
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I have trialed various organic fertilizers, the biggest challenge is the micronutrients (due to my hard water) and midseason application (how to distribute it in the soil, since many of the nutrients will mostly just stay locally). Currently a 7-3-10 based on chicken manure, vinasse and some other animal byproducts is the best, while a 5-4-8 vegan based (doesn't really say what) was the worst, especially in efficiency, it's way less potent than the other one even if the difference in numbers isn't that big.
High on my list is to get my hands on some myr micro, aminoacid complexed micronutrients, a modern product for organic farming.

As for taste, yes, I noticed a difference in sweetness, I think mostly due to lower K in organic fertilizers, which leads to a less pronounced acidity. Can't say the maximum flavor itself is different (I say maximum because for me at least taste varies quite a bit during the season on the same plant even).

Last edited by zipcode; April 27, 2021 at 03:46 AM.
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Old May 3, 2021   #5
bower
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IIRC the organic certification here required container mix to be at least 50% compost. I always use about 1/3 fresh compost in reusing old mix.

I have often used a bit of dried/pelleted chicken manure product as a general amendment, and I found it boosted production. I dig some lime in as well.

I use about 6 oz scoop of bone meal mixed into the planting hole for 5 gallon containers for N and P. Maybe 8 oz for larger fruited in larger containers. That is enough P for them to set a nice crop of fruit.

I use kelp meal (dried crushed kelp) as my K source. A scoop or two for 5 gal. If I had lots I sometimes use more.

The coarsely crushed kelp may actually help with moisture retention in the containers, but loses that value over the season as it is completely consumed.

Any time I wanted to keep the plants going over an extended season, I had to use liquid fish ferts after the main crop starts to ripen, because although the plants loved a bit more of that chicken manure, scratching it into the surface always made them grow a mat of roots right there on top.


I don't know if you're near a beach, but it is worth a run if you have a truck to fill up. Kelp is really easy to crush if you get it to the right dryness. I used to chop it up wet and what a job that was. Now I just pick a dry day, spread it out in the sun and wait until it is so crisp it crumbles in my hand. It picks up humidity from the air, so damp weather is no good for that, it will stay in large rubbery pieces no matter how you work it. Tomatoes that touch root against a large clammy piece of kelp in the mix will probably complain at transplant time (leaf gestures), but they do get over it in a day or two. My friend bought kelp meal by the sack for the farm, and that was a nicer product, finer ground, if you can get it. Expensive for something we think of as "free" but maybe not if you count the labor. Then again you may have a mill for that which would speed things up, if so it would be a nice product to offer your clients.
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