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

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Old May 1, 2021   #1
LoriA
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Default Masterblend 4-18-38 question for tomatoes in potting mix

I've read quite a lot (and watched videos) of this fertilizer for hydroponics. What I haven't seen answered, though, is exactly how to use it for tomatoes in pots (2'x4' boxes, and half-barrels...big pots). I understand the mixing process of the three components - don't pre-mix, use exact measurements, add the calcium nitrate last, etc. But how is it used for containers? Do I use it weekly, daily, exclusively, a little per plant daily and then finish watering with non-fertilizer water?


I have seven 2'x4' boxes on my deck that will have two tomatoes each, and about 10 other large (half-barrels) containers for tomatoes. Plus some more containers for peppers, zucchini, etc. MG potting mix with some small pine bark mulch mixed in. Have been fairly successful for several years, but this is the first time I'll be using the 4-18-38 fertilizer/calcium nitrate/epsom salt.



Thank you.
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Old May 1, 2021   #2
AKmark
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoriA View Post
I've read quite a lot (and watched videos) of this fertilizer for hydroponics. What I haven't seen answered, though, is exactly how to use it for tomatoes in pots (2'x4' boxes, and half-barrels...big pots). I understand the mixing process of the three components - don't pre-mix, use exact measurements, add the calcium nitrate last, etc. But how is it used for containers? Do I use it weekly, daily, exclusively, a little per plant daily and then finish watering with non-fertilizer water?


I have seven 2'x4' boxes on my deck that will have two tomatoes each, and about 10 other large (half-barrels) containers for tomatoes. Plus some more containers for peppers, zucchini, etc. MG potting mix with some small pine bark mulch mixed in. Have been fairly successful for several years, but this is the first time I'll be using the 4-18-38 fertilizer/calcium nitrate/epsom salt.



Thank you.
I have used it for several years as continuous feed. I think the best instructions are on Hydrogardens website. Look for the tomato formula and scroll down until you find the instructions. Good stuff, it's The Sauce.
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Old May 3, 2021   #3
Tomzhawaii
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Aloha,
Yes, it is the sauce.
I'm using it for almost 3 yrs in a coco, hydroton mix in totes, pots and a NFT rail for lettuce.
I've tried a few liquid 3 part brands, no contest. If you havent seen MHPgardener on youtube check it out. I'm guessing you have. Check your waters ph and mix correctly. One thing I found is to mix MB with the epsom salts then in a seperate container mix calcium nitrate then combine. That way they all get dissolved . Just some info. Amazon sells it in many sizes.
Aloha,
Tom
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Old May 8, 2021   #4
LoriA
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yes, I've seen the YouTube videos. But everything is geared towards hydroponics, when I'm using potting mix in extra-large pots and boxes on my deck. Tom, do you use it every time you water (daily +) in potting mix?
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Old May 8, 2021   #5
Yak54
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Pardon me for jumping in as I'm NOT Tom but I use it in 15 gal. grow bags filled with ProMix. They get "the sauce" every watering which in the hottest months is twice daily.

Dan
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Old May 15, 2021   #6
Tomzhawaii
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Aloha,
I do usually use everytime. But if I just want to give a quick splash until I get time to mix a batch. I do that on occaision. Please note that this became very useful for me because of my different ways I grow(NFT, Kratky ,coco coir & recently inground)
Enjoy, Tom
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Old June 1, 2021   #7
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I'm also trying my best to use 4-18-38 in my garden. I'm trying to mix up a concentrated solution to go in an EZ Flo tank fertilizer injector to mix into the drip irrigation system. Despite adding the components in order and thoroughly mixing before each step, it seems to be coming out of solution when I add the CalNitrate.

Does anyone have experience making a 4-18-38 / Magnesium Sulfate / CalNitrate concentrated liquid and advice for this situation? How high a concentration were you able to mix where it would stay in solution?
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Old June 2, 2021   #8
aclum
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I'm very interested in this subject I'm doing Kratky plus inground growing this year. I'm wheelchair bound with some limitations and I don't like constantly weighing out and mixing the masterblend chemicals. So, to make things easier for me, I did some "calculations" to come up with the maximum concentrations I could get of MB part A (MB plus Epsom Salt) and B (Calcium Nitrate) and then optimizing these amounts so that I would have a convenient dosage rate. (Actually part B wasn't really a concern as it's so much more soluble than the part A components).

(I can show you how I came up with my results, but as someone on another forum somewhat rudely told me "just because you can do calculations doesn't mean you should." ).

Anyway, here's what I came up with and so far it's working for me in my situation:

For 500 ml each use 120 g MB and 60 g ES for A and use 120 Calcium Nitrate for B

Keeping in mind that the chemical bulk displaces some of the water volume, you don't use a full 500 ml water for each part. Here's how I mix mine (it can of course be scaled up or down but I find the water bottles convenient for me at this stage of my garden):

Label 2 empty 500 ml water bottles A and B
Using a funnel, add 120 g MB and 60 g ES to bottle A
Fill with water to about an inch of the top and shake to dissolve chemicals
Using a funnel, add 120 g Calcium Nitrate to bottle B
Fill with water to about an inch of the top and shake to dissolve chemicals

Use 10 ml part A and 10 ml part B per gallon of working solution.

Depending on what I'm growing, I can adjust the dosage up or down a bit. I've had no problems combining parts A and B shortly before adding them to my reservoirs or jugs of water. You could do some experiments with different times and temps to see how long everything will stay in suspension. I've also been able to add about 10% pH Down (whats generally required for my tap water) to the combined concentrated chemicals without any dropout.

I should say my little formula hasn't been confirmed by anyone "official" or more experienced, but it works for me. Not sure about how the EZ Flo works, but hopefully this might be a starting point for you.

IF I'M WRONG ABOUT ANY OF THIS PLEASE CORRECT ME!!!

Anne
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Old June 2, 2021   #9
dshreter
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Originally Posted by aclum View Post

Use 10 ml part A and 10 ml part B per gallon of working solution.
Anne, this is consistent with the response I also just got from the manufacturer. It seems that a concentrated 3-part solution isn't possible without falling out of solution, so Part A and Part B need to be injected separately, or only mixed into a diluted solution to start with.

Here's what the manufacturer said:

The issue here is that you cannot include the Calcium Nitrate in a concentrated solution with the other components. Most growers using these products either use two injectors or one injector with two ports. Part A would be the 4-18-38 and the Magnesium Sulfate, Part B would be the Calcium Nitrate.

Based on this I'm going to go to dual injectors for my garden.
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Old June 2, 2021   #10
aclum
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Thanks! That's interesting - I'll have to look into the EZ Flo system. Can they be used with drip soaker hose or just drip with individual emitters?
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Old June 2, 2021   #11
dshreter
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It would depend on the flow rate. I think the EZ Flo has some challenges when you get to very low flow rates, and can't be below 7.5 gph, so that would be the thing to look at. It's also a bit expensive to setup two of them for this purpose since you can't mix the concentrates.
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Old June 3, 2021   #12
AKmark
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Post the results if you figure out a system that works with the affordable injectors? Whatever you figure out don't forget the third injector for pH, or maybe a fourth for another crop with different needs in the same location. lol
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Old June 5, 2021   #13
dshreter
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I went ahead with using two EZ-Flo 1010-HB units. The low pressure version could probably also work, but I picked these because they seem more durable. It is designed to connect inline with a garden hose, so I’ve simply put two of them in series ahead of my drip line. One reservoir gets Masterblend + Mag Sulfate, the other reservoir gets the Cal Nitrate. The first 1 gallon tank has 16 oz Masterblend + 8 oz Mag Sulfate, the other one is 16 oz Cal Nitrate. I set both to the same feed rate and adjust until my desired EC out of the drip system.

It seems to have worked out well so far, with a couple things that do need to be sorted. I’m assuming setting both tanks to the same feed rate is close enough, but ideally I would like to know the independent EC for the first and second to calibrate them independently. Im just measuring total EC and it’s possible the part A solution is feeding at a different rate than part B. Good enough for my purposes I think.

The second thing I’m waiting to observe is how the system gets diluted over time. I’ll have to periodically measure EC. EZ Flo says the fertilizer sinks to the bottom and the added water volume stays at the top to keep concentrations relatively even over time. This is counter to my understanding of how fully water soluble nutrients would behave though, so I expect to have to turn up the feed rate over time until it needs to be refilled.
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Old June 5, 2021   #14
dshreter
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Mark, I have not made any effort to adjust for pH. Any sense how important this is for the home gardener? Peak yield isn’t so important to me, I’m very happy with a simply very productive plant.
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Old June 5, 2021   #15
AKmark
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Originally Posted by dshreter View Post
Mark, I have not made any effort to adjust for pH. Any sense how important this is for the home gardener? Peak yield isn’t so important to me, I’m very happy with a simply very productive plant.
Well that depends on the situation at that particular home gardeners location. About 80 miles North of me people have a soil pH of about a 4.5, so you tell me? I have water that runs a 8.3 in my area, again... for good results what are the requirements?

You would be surprised at the knowledge and dedication that the average home gardener has when they want results, I see thousands every year. At any rate, enjoy, sounds like you have it handled.
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