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Fantastic Blend for Fast Growth....
on June 7, 2008
REVISION: Below I said to stop using Nitrogen later in the season, but I have had to adapt that recommendation. Over the last two years, early blight has stricken tomatoes nation wide, including places where it was relatively rare like New England. Entire farms have been wiped out, especially organic farms.
Early blight can be treated with a fungicide, but you need new stem and leaf growth to compensate for the leaves and stems lost to blight. You will have a smaller crop at the end, but losing the plant will result in many fewer tomatoes.
I found after several of my plants succumed to blight (no tomatoes, a couple of branches of leaves, etc.) that providing the rest a good dose of late season nitrogen helped them enormously.
So, I would suggest now, until the early blight has run its course (maybe never) you should use Miracle Grow Tomato Plant Fool all season and don't try to overinduce the flowering and yield of your tomatoe plants. Two live healthy plants with average yield are way better than one dead one killed off by blight.
Watch for youtubegarden.com, for more info.
I always plant with manure (raked into the soil, about one 25 pound bag of dehydrated manure per 10 plants, about 2 feet apart and spaced 3 feet per row) and some fresh garden top soil (just placed in the hole where the plant is, not throughout the garden).
If you remember, it is good to mix in lime as well about a month or so before you put the tomatoes in the ground. It helps by providing calcium to the plants and helps prevent blossom end rot. Although, I rarely have had any problem with that here, it can depend on your soil, so better safe than sorry. If you forget, don't worry, things will work fine without it for the most part.
I plant the tomatoes deep, relative to the size of the plant. 1/3 down into the soil or more depending on the size. Before I do I place fresh garden top soil in the hole and water it. Then I place the plant firmly in the muddy mixture and surround it with more fresh garden top soil. I have not found that different brands of gardening soil are better, so any cheap bag at your local gardening shop will do. I have never lost a plant doing this. People talk about other ideas like using 80 degree water to water the plants or using special techniques to keep from hurting the plants. But I have never used any technique like this. Hose water is fine as is rain water.
I do not fertilize my tomatoes until a couple of weeks have passed and they have rooted and grown a bit. I let the manure, new garden soil and lime do the job.
After that, every two weeks, I apply Miracle Gro, and when I do, the plants are more vigorous, grow faster and I have fewer problems with the plants such as discolorations of the leaves or bug infestations. I have heard numerous folks say to use less or more than the directions, but you know, the 1 Table Spoon per Gallon of water always has worked for me. About a gallon for every three plants when they are young. A bit more when they get to be 2 feet or more. The box does twenty plants for the period of the season I use it.
I use a bucket or watering can for mixing. I have not had good luck with the automatic dispensers attach to the end of the hose and it seems to waste fertilizer. But your mileage may vary.
When the plants first start to show fruit and have reached about 3 feet, I stop using Miracle Gro and switch to a no-nitrogen fertilizer. I find that by the time the plants are 3 feet tall, their root growth is fantastic and their leaf production is strong, so I want to focus on flowering and fruit production. Something that reads 0-10-10 or even higher is fine. Just absolutely no nitrogen.
I have tried other fertilizers for my plants. Nothing has worked better than Miracle Gro and some brands seemed to not work at all. I have always been satisfied with Miracle Gro and stick to it for great tomatoes and strong plants.