How to fertilize


Joined
Jun 29, 2022
Messages
276
Reaction score
66
Location
Ayrshire
Hardiness Zone
9b
Country
United Kingdom
Because of poorer light levels, we HAVE to grow our indeterminate tomatoes single-stem (double at most), & this makes a 13-13-13 fertiliser too high in nitrogen for us in the UK; we'd get loads of leaf growth & fewer tomatoes.
For that reason, we'd use a much lower N & P rating, say 2-2-6, so that we give the tomatoes just enough nitrogen to keep on growing, similarly phosphate, but plenty of potash for flowering & fruiting.
I've read that nettle tea can be used prior to fruiting to boost nitrogen, but once they flower you should switch to comfrey tea?

Do you know if this is correct?

In previous years I used commercial tomato feed on my tomatoes, but this year we just added an inch of garden compost to the bed in December then used worm tea or compost leachate when it was available. This has worked every bit as well as the commercial feed.

We also moved our worm farm into the polytunnel over winter and that seemed to work wonders for the nutrition of the beds. The only downside is that all the 'native' worms moved into the worm farm (which got moved back out of the polytunnel in the spring).

I have read that the good thing about these organic fertilizers is that they eliminate the risk of overfeeding - I can't remember the explanation as to why.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Jun 29, 2022
Messages
276
Reaction score
66
Location
Ayrshire
Hardiness Zone
9b
Country
United Kingdom
Ok, I see. I know my pepper plants are in need of nitrogen. I’m doing all container gardening. I don’t have the option for in ground or raised bed at the moment. I also have tomatoes, lettuce, kale, cabbage, chard and okra. I know the tomatoes and peppers have different fertilization needs so I thought I would need two different kinds
I'm in a similar situation, struggling to get my head around container gardening.

I use a no dig approach in my beds - essentially all that's required is an inch or two of garden compost added to the beds each December - that's it!! No amendments or fertilizer needed (except possibly amending ph level for potatoes vs brassicas).

I love the simplicity and the fact that you don't need to spend a penny (or cent).

Containers are a different beast though. I've done well enough, but my approach has been to spend a small fortune on store bought compost and refreshing with new each year. This store bought compost is full of slow release fertilizer.

I need to use a lot of containers as we have huge patio areas in the sunniest spots. Thus far, I've established that containers do best when you can cut the bottoms out and place them on soil - it doesn't matter how awful the soil is. I'm not sure why this makes a difference, but it kind of turns it into a raised bed. But on my patio I simply can't do this. I'd be willing to take up some slabs, but there's a couple of feet of rubble underneath them.

@Oliver Buckle can give you good advice for making completely free potting soil - although that's UK climate.

I'm leaning towards a mix of garden compost, leaf mould (to hold moisture - thanks oliver), manure and possibly using @Chuck and @Meadowlark's container hugelculture (sp??) approach. Oliver has also talked about 'baking' clay soil to create a powder which sounds interesting as when I add my garden soil it just clumps and separates from the other ingredients.

I know that in-ground, no dig gardening works beautifully because you feed the soil, and that creates soil life that feeds the plants. This works - 1 zillion percent. But I'm not sure how (or if you can) get this working in containers that aren't in contact with the soil. Can you create a little 'ecosystem' in a pot that's self-sustaining provided you keep the soil fed? The trouble is, if it dries out just once or gets too hot presumably you'll kill off the soil life.
 
Joined
Mar 26, 2013
Messages
3,243
Reaction score
1,365
Location
Port William
Showcase(s):
1
Country
United Kingdom
I've read that nettle tea can be used prior to fruiting to boost nitrogen, but once they flower you should switch to comfrey tea?

Do you know if this is correct?

In previous years I used commercial tomato feed on my tomatoes, but this year we just added an inch of garden compost to the bed in December then used worm tea or compost leachate when it was available. This has worked every bit as well as the commercial feed.

We also moved our worm farm into the polytunnel over winter and that seemed to work wonders for the nutrition of the beds. The only downside is that all the 'native' worms moved into the worm farm (which got moved back out of the polytunnel in the spring).

I have read that the good thing about these organic fertilizers is that they eliminate the risk of overfeeding - I can't remember the explanation as to why.
Yes you can use both, but if keeping a number of bins of extracts is difficult, for whatever reason, you can get away with using only comfrey tea; there's enough nitrogen there.
It is not impossible to overfeed organically.
People sometimes think you can't because the NPK numbers tend to be low, but really what forms of NPK you have matter more, asa it changes the availability of the nutrients to plants.
Manure can give you problems with potatoes, because the nitrogen can be relentless, & you have stems everywhere with little in the way of tubers. It is also the case with manure that you can get too much phosphate in the soil, which binds it up, reducing its availability.
Horse mature, when fresh, will burn the roots of pumpkins etc because it's so "hot" in nitrogen.
So I only use manure on alternate years.
What organic fertilisers are good for, is giving you a bit more leeway when you apply & feeding the soil biosphere, so that your plants are naturally fertilised.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Feb 13, 2021
Messages
1,678
Reaction score
1,045
Country
United Kingdom
My approach to filling containers depends on what I have about me to put in them, and what I intend to plant.
When I re-potted my angel's trumpets I know they are addicted to plenty of moisture, and that the friend who gave me them said "Don't worry about overfeeding them, you can't". I made up a mix that was very high in vegetable material, sieved but only partly composted, and manure with terracotta and ash and just a bit of top soil. It will rot down quite a bit and allow me to top dress to add nutrients for a few years.
I am sure you can imagine that would not do for potatoes.
Tomatoes might have two parts each compost, manure and topsoil.
Lavender I can get away with spent soil from old pots with minimal additions.
 

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top