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Post  kkalasa on 4/27/2010, 7:37 pm

So I know that fertilizer is not supposed to be needed with Mel's Mix. But...this is my first year gardening and I built and filled my box with dirt before I read all of Mel's book. So my dirt is a mess of composted manure, a little vermiculite and peat moss.

I keep having visions of my first tomato plant years ago that only produced a single tomato. It kinda freaked me out and I wouldn't even eat it.

I have a good amount of lettuce growing and I have peas growing out of control. I have a couple of flowers on the peas but I keep having nightmares of that tomato and I'm afraid my plants won't produce any fruit. (I also planted radishes in the early spring and they never produced a bulb.)

So I bought some organic Miracle gro today but I don't really know what to do with it. Fertilizer 601593 My plants are already in the ground so I can't just mix it into the soil, do I try working some in with my fingers?

Can anyone give advise on fertilizer-I really have no idea. Fertilizer Icon_wink Fertilizer Icon_question Fertilizer Icon_neutral
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Post  timwardell on 4/27/2010, 9:08 pm

First of all, there could have been any number of reasons that tomato plant that haunts you only had one tomato on it. Some years just aren't good for tomatoes. That said, I think you'll find the consensus here on the Forum is, "Don't Fertilize" because with a properly made Mel's Mix there really is no need. However, since you admit you jumped the gun and don't have a proper Mel's Mix in your raised beds your soil may very well be lacking in some essential nutrients.

In a traditional row garden, Tomatoes are typically fertilized BEFORE, DURING and AFTER. By that I mean that about 2-3 weeks before you plant the soil should be prepped with a balanced fertilizer (like 10-10-10). After you put your transplants in the ground a dose of water soluble fertilizer is often applied. After fruit has set (once you start seeing green tomatoes), fertilizer is applied every 2-3 weeks. This is often a slow release granular fertilizer with a high phosphorous content (like 10-20-10). (And people think making Mel's Mix ONE TIME is too much work and too expensive. Imagine messing with all this fertilizer EACH and EVERY YEAR! ... but I digress.)

What type of fertilizer did you buy? Is it granular? Water soluble? How do the directions say to apply it and how often? What's the number on it? (5-10-15, etc.?) Those 3 numbers refer to the amount of Nitorogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K) in the fertilizer. Each serves a different purpose.
* Nitrogen (N): Promotes leafy top growth.
* Phosphorous (P): Promotes root and fruit development.
* Potassium (K): Promotes general durability, disease resistance and cold hardiness.
Thus, if your plants have set fruit and you want to promote fruit development, you'll want a fertilizer with a higher middle number.

Yes, this can all be very confusing but with a properly made Mel's Mix you don't need to know any of it.

If you want to fertilize I suggest you read and follow the directions on the label of the Miracle Grow you purchased. I'm guessing it's a general all purpose veggie fertilizer with all 3 numbers either equal or within 2 or 3 of each other.

Hope this helps.
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Post  camprn on 4/27/2010, 9:40 pm

+ 1 what Tim said. I would also suggest you do standard testing of your soil. see this link for a simplified description of required soil components for good garden results. Small home test kits may be purchased at your local garden center or contact your county Cooperative Extension Agent for more information.


Last edited by camprn on 4/27/2010, 9:42 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling correction)
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Post  kkalasa on 4/27/2010, 9:48 pm

Thanks, I think I will try the soil testing before I use the fertilizer.

Any thoughts on "fixing" my soil, can I start mixing in proper Mel's mix as I harvest? I have about 4 inches left at the top of my box, should I just wait and fill that space in next year?
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Post  camprn on 4/27/2010, 9:53 pm

If it was me, I would add the Mel's Mix by square as things move along during the season. If nothing else, I would topdress or add compost directly into the soil. Good luck!
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