Standard Tomato Food – Dry Nutrients
One of the best traditional feeds for tomato plants is Chempak Standard Tomato Food. This has been voted number one in a number of polls including a Which magazine poll.
However, whichever feed you use, it won’t be enough on its own to provide all that your plants need, though this one comes close to it because it is a dry compound that needs mixing with water.
If you look at the “ingredients” on the container of Tomorite, which is one of the most popular tomato foods, it doesn’t contain calcium … what! …. no calcium!
A liquid formula such as Tomorite has limits to the amount or type of nutrients it can contain and remain effective.
Tomorite is popular too!
We mentioned last week about nutrient competition where one nutrient will block out another. Well, the people who make Tomorite know (obviously!) that some nutrients just don’t mix together well, and that you could end up with calcium deficiency, whether calcium is in the product or not!
If you have good quality compost/soil and growing conditions are good, it may not be necessary to add extra nutrients like calcium because plants are able to access it in the soil contents.
That’s the theory, but the reality is often different and to rely totally on one feed like Chempak Standard or Tomorite, is taking a chance. Some seasons all will be fine, but more often than not, there’ll be problems.
So What’s The Answer?
If you are growing a medium or large variety in a container or grow bag, the chance of nutrient deficiency especially Blossom End Rot is high, see below.
The best way to avoid nutrient deficiency is to provide tomato plants with a “grow” feed up until the flowers begin to set, then a “fruiting” feed when the tomatoes begin to appear. This way plants get exactly what they need when they needs it and the soil doesn’t become over-fed with nutrients that plants don’t need.
A very good product for organic growers is Bio-Grow and Bio-Bloom for the grow and fruiting stages. These are from the BioBizz range of nutrients.
For non-organic gardeners, Vitalink’s Earth – Growth and Bloom formulas are excellent.
Next week we’ll discuss nutrient additives which boost specific growth processes.
Note: If you are growing cherry tomatoes you may not need to worry too much about calcium deficiency and nutrient block because cherry tomatoes are unlikely to get Blossom End Rot because they need less calcium than their bigger cousins!
I highly recommend a foliar feed with calcium when plants begin to fruit if growing medium and large varieties. Chempak Calcium and Vitalink’s Foliar are both excellent.
Many suggest that spraying with milk is a good way to get calcium into a plant!