One thing that really interests me about hydroponic growing – growing without soil – is the amount of extra supplemental feeds that are available.
These are given in addition to regular nutrients and “fill in the gaps” as it were, for those times of the season when tomato plants need a little extra boost of something specific.
Many hydroponic nutrients are excellent for us tomato growers too, who prefer old fashioned soil but wouldn’t mind a bit of help to make our crops more successful.
A good example of a supplement is Vitalink Foliar
This is applied as a spray and is rich in calcium. Plants require large amounts of calcium for the development of strong cell walls. Strong cell walls keep your plants strong and healthy by increasing their resistance to pests, disease and drought – helpful when the soil becomes too dry!
Helps protect against blight and other fungal infections.
VitaLink Foliar contains tea tree oil, which is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal ingredient. It will help to combat fungal infections, including Botrytis, Powdery Mildew and Blight. These fungal infections can weaken and even destroy your plants.
Avoid nutrient competition
I mentioned in a previous newsletter about how potassium can affect the absorption of calcium when competing in the soil. Potassium, also known as potash is found in large amounts in tomato food because it boosts flowering and fruiting. However, because this is a foliar feed and sprayed onto the leaves, which are able to absorb up to five times more nutrient than the roots, it limits the potassium versus calcium competition. Your tomato plants are then able to use both calcium and potassium more effectively, producing a bigger and better crop.
It is well known to add egg shells and dissolved indigestion tablets to soil as a way of adding extra calcium to soil. However, it is far better to apply calcium as a foliar feed to avoid the nutrient competition problem.
To Recap – the benefits of Vitalink Foliar are:
- Helps produce strong growth
- Helps prevent Blossom End Rot
- Helps prevent Tomato Blight and other fungal diseases
- Helps prevent insect attack
- Helps plants cope with extreme temperatures
- Avoids nutrient competition/block
When foliar feeds are used in conjunction with a wetting agent, the results are even better!
A wetting agent helps when applying a foliar feed like Vitalink Foliar and when re-hydrating dry soils. It reduces the surface tension of water and assists in the plant’s ability to absorb the nutrients through the plant tissue.
Essentials Wetter also contains beneficial bacteria to increase disease resistance and when applied to soil, improve root structure.
The advantages of using these nutrients are plain to see, however, they aren’t cheap!
These are a great addition for the enthusiastic tomato grower who enjoys growing tomatoes as a hobby!