Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are the garden’s equivalent of teenage boys in that they consume a lot of food while they are growing.
Garden books often call them “heavy feeders.” So once you’ve planted the crop and are watering regularly, you will need to know how to fertilize — not only what to use but how often is necessary.
What to Use
For tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, I use Tomato-tone once a month and fish emulsion every two weeks.
In my experience this keeps plants healthy and harvests abundant.
I begin to fertilize about a week after I have settled my plants in the ground, which is amended with compost every Spring — another form of fertilizing. And, I continue throughout the summer as long as the plant is producing.
How to Use it
Starting with the Tomato-tone I sprinkle one and a half tablespoons in a circle around the plant about 4 to 6 inches out from the stem. Don’t get fertilizer on the leaves, it will burn the plant. Next I scratch the fertilizer into the soil gently. I use a small claw tool meant for houseplants that gets in between and around the plants easily. You can use anything, even the tip of a trowel. Don’t go too deep. You can damage the roots.
Next I mix one tablespoon of fish emulsion into a gallon of water and circle the plant the same way. This product isn’t pleasant to smell, but all my vegetables seem to thrive with it.
Finally, I water. If you can time your fertilizing to coincide with a rainy day and let Mother nature water, that’s even better.
The last step is to note in your garden journal the date and what you used. Good records help you keep track of maintenance.
A common error is to add too much fertilizer. I think it’s the “If some is good, more must be better” syndrome. Too much fertilizer will produce lush green-leafy plants with little vegetable production. That’s not the result we want.
Our goal is a thriving, productive garden.