Best way to increase Nitrogen quickly.

Prompted by poor size on the tomatoes...
I bought a soil test kit and found that PH is 6.5 7.0 = Generally Acceptable.
P and K were high but N is depleted. Which explains the poor fruit sizes?
My romas are the size of a large marble, tomatillos too. Other tomato varieties size are less than expected...
This is the first time this ground had been set up as a bed. Previously is sat covered with plastic and tan bark for ten + years. In preparing this 160 square ft. bed I started with about 3 cubic yards of compost added and rototilled in. Put some lime in the soil and tilled that in with the compost...
Without having to resort to chemical fertilizers, what would be a good way to increase N so the remaining growth cycle of the vegetables will benefit? Reading up on it I find info that says to add 28 - 30 oz of N fertilizer per 100 sq. feet. But what I'm not sure about is if the granular stuff in the box at the garden center is most beneficial.
Any suggestions appreciated.
Thanks,
Jeff San Jose, Calif. z 8.
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jhultman wrote:

First of all, the home soil test kits are notoriously inaccurate in the nitrogen determination. The most accurate is probably the pH test.
Second, you don't necessarily want to boost the nitrogen to your tomatoes too much. You will get lots of leaf growth and little fruiting.
The best thing to do is to send a soil sample to your local extension service with a cover letter telling them what you are trying to grow. They will be able to make specific recommendations for fertilizer. Call your local extension agent to find an address for their test lab. A soil test should cost around $10-15 for the basics. They will tell you how to take the sample and dry it (no point in shipping water at postal rates).
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I'm sort of fuzzy on this, but legumes (peanuts?) and some other plants have root nodules that harbor nitrogen fixing bateria. I've seen other seed packets (snow peas?) that say you can also innoculate with nitrogen fixing bacteria (available at "better" stores, never seen it myself). So if you're in long term, think about companion planting one of those or use something similar as a cover crop. Beans also come to mind, but like I said, I'm hazy.
(I also agree with Dwight Sipler - from what I've read, adding too much N will make the foliage lusher at the expense of fruiting. But if the test is accurate and you are N deficient then it shouldn't hurt to raise the balance.)
Do you know if there are any residual pesticides/chemicals in the plot? "Covered with plastic and tan bark" makes it sound like it was either a well kept flower bed or a wood pile.
- Salty
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My understanding is that N will always show low on soil tests. Plants use lots of it and what's left over eventually leaches out of the root zone (and possibly into the groundwater). Others are correct about taking care not to add too much nitrogen to tomatoes or you'll get lots of green and little fruit.
You can add nitrogen back to the soil by fixation or fertilization. Legumes take atmospheric nitrogen from air in the soil and convert it to a form plants can use. That might not help you right now though. You can use organic fertilizers like fish emulsion or fresh manure if you don't want to go with a processed fertilizer. Best suggestion is to contact an extension agent for advice since they are familiar with your climate and soils.
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Never heard of that, but it's actually quite fascinating, as indeed it includes many of the same rendering-plant gross-out garbagy ingredients that are elsetimes used as fertilizers, except a half-peg higher in the chain so not quite as leached of nutrients as would be fish or bonemeal for gardens. And not inconceibably better as a fertilizer than as a dogfood.
-paghat the ratgirl
--
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"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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snipped-for-privacy@netscapeSPAM-ME-NOT.net (paghat) wrote in wrote:

now that I've thought about it, adding dog food directly to the soil probably isn't a good idea ... what I have heard is people add dog food to a nitrogen deficient *compost* pile. adding dog food directly will probably just invite snoopy, spike, olaf, ranger rick, sammy squirrel and ollie otter to an early breakfast buffet.
-- Salty
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Actually just landscape fabric, plastic, then tan bark so as to not have to weed it or walk in the mud during winter...
Thanks, J
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If it were me, I would side dress the plants with composted manure and dried blood meal (both organic and nitrogen sources). I would also mulch with dried grass clippings. That would definitely kick start them. As always, I also recommend using fish emulsion to help plants get back on track.
Penny Zone 7b - North Carolina

Acceptable.
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fish emulshion
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snipped-for-privacy@localnet.com (Beecrofter) wrote:

Stinky, stinky, stinky fishy lawns & gardens, & me without a clothespin for my nose! Would the kelp alternative also do it in a vegetarian manner?
I fertilize much less than most folks but I also remove less (not growing much in the way of harvested veggies, don't discard lawn clippings or leaves). Some heavy bloomers I spot-fertilize about half as often as often recommended, & many shrubs & trees get an annual slow-release fertilizing in their vicnity, maybe not even always that. Everything does fine even so. Now & then something blooms less than it might've if I'd slathered it in fertilizer, though one rarely knows proof-positive why something blooms a lot one year & less another year.
In some cases a nitrogen-starved soil is not all that much improved by adding a lot of nitrogen per se, some of which literally evaporates, much else rinses through, before doing a darned thing. And poor nitrogen levels can be the result of other factors than amount of nitrogen added. The health of a garden's nitrogen-fixing anaerobic & cyano bacteria is the #1 reason organic gardeners need to fertilize less than gardeners who use chemicals. Kill the healthful bacteria, you'll never add enough nitrogen to make up for the loss.
Other balances are also required. An expensive chemical nitrogen fertilizer might be WAY more intense than say, oh, free spent coffee grounds from Starbuck's "gifts to gardeners" program, but the carbon/nitrogen ratio of the grounds is so correct, & the slow release, & the healthful nitrogen-fixing bacterial action as the spent grounds decay, & its moisture-holding capacity, so that in fact a soil enriched with those coffeegrounds could end up being more quickly a better soil. So too a corn gluten fertilizer, slow release good nitrogen balance, less nitrogen lost to the atmosphere or wash-through (with proper bacterial health in the soil). It's not only the nitrogen percentage in the natural fertilizer that nitrogenizes the soil, but the protein content (of corn gluten or coffee grounds or alfalfa) that converts to nitrogen only as fed upon by healthful bacteria which fixes still more nitrogen from out of the very atmosphere.
Or, an area heavily seeded with red clover for a couple seasons, then plowed & planted, will have better nitrogen-fix than if it were done by chemical fertilizer methods.
I think a lot of the methods that consider the health of the bacteria, rather than the amount of nitrogen in a fertilizer liquid or powder or granual, might not be as reliable where crops are harvested or grass clippings carted away, which also remove nutrients galore so that bacterial action can't keep up. But for a flower garden with very little harvested out of it; where one uses a mulching lawn mower, & permits fallen leaves to decay as a natural surface mulch rather than swept away; & with a healthy worm population churning the ground naturally -- then healthy bacterial action is going to keep a pretty good nitrogen balance going even with much artificial feeding, or a feeding of corn gluten or other natural but slower-release fertilizer (even just sawdust!) the nitrogen strength of which is weak except when enhanced by bacteria.
There are natural nitrogen cycles, & without any fertilizing at all, nitrogen levels will lower & rise on their own in a balanced garden. It's doubtlessly easier to maintain that balance when the goal isn't to harvest food, but many a produce grower also manages with entirely organic methods.
-paghat the ratgirl
--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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On the lines of improving soil quality, as opposed to just chemically fertilizing, you may wanna consider what I use. A product called Fertile Earth Vegatable Formula contains a patented substance the company called BioNatra, which is sopposed to be something like a bacteria food, as opposed to simple plant food. It does not actually contain bacteria, but rather contains substances that promote the growth of helpful soil bacterias, fungi, and nematoads (sorta like the plakton of the dirt). It's natural and organic. If combined with good amounts of dead plant matter on the bed you are preparing it can make a significant boost on the soil fertility and lowers the need for fertilizers. It is a liquid material that must be diluted in water, and then can be sprayed using a mixer hose attachment (don't use cheap ones they REALLY suck, ie. Wal-mart, Miracle-Gro brands), or mixed in a watering can and poured right on the surface. I use this stuff and I love it, You should check it out the website of the company if you are at all interested, the stuff is non-toxic, lasts a long time (3 years in proper storage) and is pretty cheap. The BioNatra product is so powerful in high concentrations they use it at septic treatment plants to jump start bacterial filtration processes. To some of you this might sound disgusting, but if you understand soil bacterial makeup the way that Paghat seems to, you'll understand how benificial a product like this can be...
www.fertile-earth.com
BTW I am not in any way affliated with the company, I've just done alot of reading on thier products, and am a very satisfied customer. Check out thier sections dealing with soil nutrients and fertility. They explain alot about the effects of trace minerals in the soil that most chemical fertilizers don't contain.
(Beecrofter) wrote:

N
granular
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I think it's all deodorized now. The stuff I bought is. No fishy smell. I wonder how they remove the stink?
karen
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Home soil test kits are crap. The reason that the Nitrogen reading is low is because Nitrogen dosent occur naturally in the soil like Phosporus and Potassium. It is water soluble, so any Nitrogen you put into the soil is easily washed away with when it rains or when you water. To put it simply, the easiest way to "increase nitrogen quickly" is to fertilize the plants.
toad
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Hi jhultman, suggest adding some cow or horse manure. Also the weather has been damned hot and may be stressing your plants out.
--
Jayel
"jhultman" < snipped-for-privacy@cisco.com> wrote in message
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Here's a thought ... if the tomatoes really are nitrogen deficient, wouldn't the leaves also turn yellow, starting at the bottom?
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jhultman wrote:

As others have mentioned, most home soil testing kits are a waste of money and even in professionally tested samples, nitrogen levels are extremely difficult to assess accurately. And as others have already mentioned, adding supplemental nitrogen at this point is unlikley to do anything significant for your fruit.
If this is the first time use of this bed for many years, the soil is likely uniformly deficient in the soil organisms which provide much of the nitrogen in the soil. 3 yards of compost as an amendment sounds good, but a starved soil will soak that up without effort and ask for more. Plant a cover crop this winter that is a nitrogen fixer - fava beans, red clover, vetch - then till it in in the spring. Continue to amend each season with composted manure as well. Rebuilding the soil is not a quick process.
Vegetables and other small fruiting crops have high nutrient demands and benefit from supplemental fertilizing duirng the growing season. There are lots of good organic fertilizers you can use - balanced ones that contain all three of the essential nutrients as well as those which are heavy on the nitrogen end like kelp meal, alfalfa meal, bat guano, feather meal, etc. I feed my tomatoes with an organic rose fertilizer from Dr. Earth - I always get great crops in our very short tomato season.
pam - gardengal
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