I went on a bit of a spree this year and have 9 heirloom tomatoes (well, one is an Early Girl hybrid) in containers. Last year, I did 2 plants but didn't get much, because I didn't know anything about gardening!
This year, I want to do things right! The Early Girl has lots of tomatoes ripening slowly on it, a few others have flowers and one or two small tomatoes, and some are doing nothing! (except leaves of course). I know Heirlooms usually bloom a bit later and tend not to be AS prolific as hybrids, but I want to get the most out of them (I have dreams of rainbow salsa with all my different colored varieties :) )
What should I fertilize with? I've been using Miracle Gro once a week like I do my flowers but I'm sure there's something better!
How can I encourage more flowering/tomato production?
I have been watering daily in this heat (NJ), but I try to water less on the ones that have lots of fruit because I know it stresses them to ripen.
I have been keeping the bottom clear, pinching off "suckers" (the leaves that sprout in the um... crotch... of branches) and plan to take stuff off the top once there's lots of clusters, is that the right thing to do? Should I be pruning off leaves, too?
P.S. What about peppers? We got one small one but since then, nothing!
I just dig until the soil is soft, make a hole, put a spade of compost in there, then the plant, (break up the root ball first), fill it in with dirt and pat it down, then another spade of compost on the surface.
If you pull off the little leaves at the bottom of the stem and plant the stem deeper in the soil, that part of the stem will put out roots and make a stronger root system.
Marigolds are good to plant alongside tomatoes because they repel the type of pests that eat tomatoes. Peppers I treat the same as tomatoes.
ETA: I'm not actually an expert on growing tomatoes, I just know that I've done it and had huge success, so...
But I've never pruned my tomato plants. I just give them plenty of room in the garden and a nice roomy cage to grow into and let them go wild.
Compost is good.
For fertilizer, you want a special tomato fertilizer that is low in nitrogen as nitrogen will encourage more leaf growth at the expense of flowers/fruit. Nitrogen (N) is the first number in the N-P-K fertilizer numbers. The second number (P) is phosphorous, and that should be high as it encourages flowers/fruit. Potassium (K) is the last number and should be somewhere between the other two up to equal with P.
Actually I find tomatoes need a good deal of nitrogen to thrive, but only until flowering. Fish emulsion (or buried fish heads I'm told) does an excellent job. Lots of organic material (compost) in the soil will really make them do well. Fairly even watering is important when young and when fruiting.
Crushed eggshells in the soil along with even watering once they start setting fruit will help prevent blossom end rot. Keep them trellised up now or one day you'll look out and you'll have a giant sprawl of tomatoes. Not that I did that this year or anything ...
When did you plant them and how tall are they? Do you remember how many days to maturity they were supposed to need? It's still on the early side for harvesting tomatoes, especially if they're late-maturing varieties. If they're tall and healthy looking but you're not seeing many flowers, you could be over fertilizing. Pruning them results in bigger fruit, but if you don't prune them you get more fruit. I've read that the total volume of fruit you get is about the same either way.
Mother of two spectacular girls, born mid-2010 and late 2012
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