Good tomato fertilizer?

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At the beginning of this season, I purchased some "Sta-Green Tomato & Vegetable Food", 12-10-5. I was wondering if this would be suitable for my tomatoes, some of which are in 20" pots and some of which are in the ground. I used the recommended amount at planting time (late May), and I'm getting ready to add a little more in the next few days.
I've seen some messages on this newsgroup that suggest calcium is important for tomatoes. The Sta-Green fertilizer has no calcium -- it has nitrogen, phosphate, potash, boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc. Will this do the trick, or should I use something in addition? I've heard too much nitrogen can hinder fruit production.
Any feedback would be appreciated.
Stephen Younge Boulder, CO
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On Tue, 08 Jul 2003 10:08:13 -0400, Jim Carter

------ I recently heard Ralph Snodsmith of the Gardening Hotline show say you should crush up the egg shells and boil them, then water the plants with that water. I suspect that it would take many months for the shells to decay and amend the soil but the calcium water would be absorbed immediately.
or..
Mix 1 tablespoon calcium cloride (road salt) with 1 pint water and pout that around the base of the plant. Good for preventing blossom end rot in tomatoes.
---pete---
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---Pete--- wrote:

Are you certain you didn't have Epsom Salts in mind?
--
Zone 5b (Detroit, MI)
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On Tue, 08 Jul 2003 23:32:11 -0400, Noydb

------ This tip comes from the book by Dick Raymond, The Love of Gardening, page 294. ---pete---
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On Tue, 08 Jul 2003 14:58:07 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@erol.com (---Pete---) wrote:

I'm not so sure about that. Road salt has caused a sectionof my flower garden to be very difficult to grow "anything" in (may have found a solution this year, a great big 3 foot planter covering the area). Granted, your solution is very diluted, but given my experience over the past 5 years I would resist any advice to add the stuff in any quantity to a veg. or any garden.
The eggshell tea idea is a good one though and I have heard that diluted epsom salts work well, but I have not tried that.
jcm
Toronto, Canada Canadian zone 6, U.S. zone is apparently 4b
Thanks to global warming it's bloody hot here!
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Joanne said:


Most communities still use sodium chloride as a road salt because it is far less expensive to purchase. (The eventual costs of salt damage are hard to grasp; the initial cheapness easy to notice.)
This would make a fairly good 'emergency' calcium treatment. Better would be to add calcium carbonate (from ground limestone* or TUMS), crushed eggshells or bone meal to the planting hole as a slow and steady source.
*Since tomatoes also like a good bit of magnesium, dolomitic limestone might be preferred.

Yours may have been 'cheap' sodium chloride road salt rather than the safer, more expensive calcium chloride.
From what I've read, one treatment for soils high in sodium salt is to dose with gypsum (calcium sulfate).
My own method of tomato fertilization:
Fluff up the beds while adding compost and alfalfa pellets. Let it mellow for one - two weeks. (I use about 1 inch of cured and sifted compost per bed; the alfafla pellets do not completely blanket the surface but cover maybe 40% of it.)
Put a scant handful of Espoma's Tomato Tone in the bottom of each planting hole and work it in a bit.
Mulch with something nutritious. Shredded leaves mixed with coffeegrounds and/or cocoashells or sifted compost.
Later in the season, give the plants a few boosts with foliar feedings of Maxicrop (seaweed).
My plants look particularly awesome this year. Late, but loading up with green tomatoes.
--
Pat in Plymouth MI

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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (Pat Kiewicz) wrote in message

I wonder if it is the steady rainfall, coupled with the sandy soil beds, which both you and I have this season. Mine look excellent too (my six feet rebar cages will be overtaken in 3 weeks) but I only add the winter kitchen scraps (without digging), some wood ash, and mulch (wood chips).
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To follow up replies from a couple of you...

After various people mentioned adding Calcium tablets, I shook my head in disbelief, but headed to my local Healthfood store anyway. There I noticed that the ordinary Calcium supplements were quite expensive, but something called Dolomite was more reasonable.
The mineral content was slightly lower, but since a whole bottle would probably last me the season, that seemed ok. The only thing I wasn't sure about was whether the magnesium was going to be ok.
Thank you - you have answered my question!
Colin ----- (Please reply via the newsgroup)
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While I realize you are wanting this area for edibles, rugosas tolerate road salt extremely well (they like to grow near salt-water too). Some varieties do produce substantial hips for rosehip tea. :)
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Phaedrine Stonebridge wrote:

There is a mis- understanding. The poster said about calcium chloride which they use to melt ice on the road. It is not rock salt (sodium chloride) The calcium chloride it usually small round white balls. It is usually sold to be yard and concrete safe, unlike road salt. I may be wrong but pure calcium chloride contains no salt like road salt.

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wrote:

OIC
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Brian said:

Calcium chloride would technically be 'a' salt which is sometimes used on roads, but it contains no sodium chloride (which is a completely different salt.)
To be pendantic...
Compounds of elements from periodic table group VIIA (the halogens, or 'salt-makers') with metalic or non-metalic elements or simple compounds are salts. The most noteworthy halogens are fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and iodine. Halogens are highly reactive and do not naturally occur in elemental form.
Sodium chloride is a salt (in the vernacular, it's THE salt). It's mineral form is halite (typically referred to as 'rock salt') which can be mined from large deposits (the proverbial salt mines). It's only use in the garden is for controlling weeds and disease in asparagus plantings, though this use is controversial. (Asparagus is naturally tolerant to sodium chloride, just like the rugosa roses mentioned earlier in the thread.)
Calcium chloride is a salt. Calcium chloride is more expensive than sodium chloride because it is manufactured rather than mined. It is effective at lower temperatures than sodium chloride and it is somewhat less damaging to road surfaces and structures (there is a new liquid application method which might make it substantially less destructive) . Calcium chloride could possibly be useful in the garden as an emergency source of calcium.
Rather out of place in the middle of July, an article about the various sorts of salts and chemicals used for pavement deicing (with a list of salt-tolerant trees and shrubs):
http://www.ianr.unl.edu/pubs/horticulture/g1121.htm
--
Pat in Plymouth MI

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On Tue, 08 Jul 2003 04:23:28 GMT, "Stephen Younge"

------ Last year I added Ironite to my garden which is a fertilizer with all those micro nutrients and minerals. I can't prove it but I suspect that the Ironite was responsible for such great tasting tomatoes I had last year.
I'm in New Jersey and we had a drought last year so maybe the lack of water also contributed to the taste of my tomatoes. I guess I'll find out this year because I used the Ironite and we have plenty of rain this year.
--pete--
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I'd be cautious about using Ironite on vegies. It has been discovered that at least one of their products contains high levels of arsenic and lead. The state of Washington has now passed a few weak laws on proper labeling on fertilizers, but most don't have to say what those "inert ingredients" are, nor where they come from (Ironite was using mining wastes IIRC).
Some farmers have lost use of their lands because the heavy metal toxicities have become too great.
You can look up some articles on it from the Seattle Times, or perhaps:     http://www.envirolaw.org/poison.html
Sorry for the bad news.
    -frank
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---Pete--- said:

Jersey greensand is usually recommended as a trace mineral source (plus, bonus, for sandy soils, a very slow release K source).
Seaweed sprays (I use Maxicrop brand, dry powder, mix with water for foliar feeds or transplant drench) is a trace element source.
--
Pat in Plymouth MI

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Yes, it did seem old.
The Seattle Times (which is clearly not a radical paper -- far from it) commissioned an independent laboratory to evaluate the heavy metal content of a variety of commercial fertilizers. The lab found numerous cases (including some major brand-name products) where heavy metal content was substantial. IIRC Duff Wilson, the reporter who uncovered this, wrote a book about it.
What happened when this became more widely known was, in retrospect at least, fairly predictable. Bills were introduced into the Wa state legislature, where they drew intense lobbying by the affected industries. Here in the west, at least, mining industries are big business. They were _legally_ dumping toxic waste into the open arms of the fertilizer companies, who were selling it as part of their fertilizer products. At the national (US) level, this regulatory loophole in EPA regulations has been closed, but only after a 6-month delay after regulations are published in the Federal Register. Don't know if they've been published yet, though the law was passed/amended in mid-2002.
Ironite claims that the arsenic and lead are in forms that are not "biologically available". Maybe that is true -- now. But with unknown chemical reactions over decades, personally I'm not willing to gamble my family's health that these won't be converted by some microorganism to some form that would be absorbed by some vegetable. In most states, there is no requirement to publish heavy metal content on fertilizers. Their assertion is not necessarily true, given that at least some farmers who have used some of these products over a period of years have suffered substantial losses as their fields -- now far less productive -- now test very high for heavy metals.
Until/unless fertilizer companies list source materials, or provide chemical content assays, my personal choice is to avoid them, even on my lawn. I encourage others to do the same, hoping that some day more fertilizer companies will see the wisdom in behaving in an honorable fashion.
    -frank
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snipped-for-privacy@u.washington.edu (Frank Miles) wrote:

Valuable information, thank you!
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x-no-archive: yes
[lack of fruit production in tomatoes]

<snip>
For a calcium supplement, are antacid tablets (e.g. TUMS) or powdered milk (30 percent U.S. R.D.A. of calcium per 24-gram serving) other possibilities?
I'd read somewhere else that multivitamin pills also make great plant food.
-- dkra
--
dkraatmmiiidotixdotnetcomdotcom
[Subtract two thousand and (one plus two), plus the "." of course.]
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On Tue, 08 Jul 2003 04:23:28 GMT, "Stephen Younge"

Abstract: A market exists for organically grown, fresh- and processing-market tomatoes. Although information on conventional tomato practices is available from many sources, comprehensive information on organic cultivation practices is difficult to find. Organic tomato production differs from conventional production primarily in soil fertility, weed, insect, and disease management. These are the focus of this publication, with special emphasis on fresh market tomatoes. http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/tomato.pdf In Nigeria, tomatoes yielded 44 and 42 T/A when swine manure or poultry manure was applied at 9 T/A. Tomatoes yielded 37 and 42 T/A on fields treated with sewage sludge or rabbit manure applied at 18 T/A. Organic manures performed better than NPK treatments, which yielded only 31 T/A (15).
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On Fri, 11 Jul 2003 21:22:49 -0400, Noydb
proven wrong time and time again!!
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