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Feb 10, 2015 8:21 PM CST
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database.
Feb 10, 2015 8:42 PM CST
Hi Chris. And welcome to ATP!

Seedlings need no fertilizer until they have at least 1-2 pairs of true leaves. (The initial pair of round leaves, the seedling leaves, don't count.)

Then, give them VERY LITTLE fertilizer, like 1/4 as much as the jar of fertilizer recommends. They don't need or want much. besides, you want them to grow strong roots and a short, sturdy stem - not shoot up on a spindly stem or get leafy at the expense of roots.

So fertilize them weakly, weekly or every few weeks, at first.

Technically, it depends a lot on the "Nitrogen number", the first number in the labels' "24-8-16". Practically, Miracle-Gro all purpose plant food suggests
"For indoor plants, mix 1/2 teaspoon (not tablespoon) per gallon of water. "

In that case, you would use at most 1/8th teaspoon per gallon for seedlings, and don't use it very often, either.

I can't tell where you live, so I don't know if you;re ready to plant out yet.

When you do, remember that FIRST you want the young plants to grow strong roots. Make them work for it! If your soil is at all fertile, don't fertilize for a while, then go gently rather than give them too much.

Hopefully, tomato experts will chime in and give solid numbers for fertilizing adult plants. But if you aren't sure, give them less fertilizer until a few leaves start turning yellow. Then you know you will be fertilizing, not OVER-fertilizing.

What's the downside of under-fertilizing? Maybe, eventually, they will grow somewhat less slowly if your soil is infertile. How to recover? Give them a little fertilizer and the plants will take off.

What's the downside of OVER-fertilizing? Burn the roots, stunt the leaves, stop growth for weeks, maybe never recover, or, quite commonly, kill the plants. How to recover? MAYBE recover part way by flushing the soil, but more likely you'll have to start over with new plants or chalk this year up to "experience".

P.S. I;'m not a totally organic kind of gardener, but they have a great point. "Feed the soil, and the SOIL will feed the plants". Just go back in time a year or two and start feeding your garden soil lots of compost. Then you won't need much fertilizer until your plants are huge and growing fast.

Good luck, and I hope I see you around the forums here at ATP.

Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
Bulbs Region: Canadian Garden Ideas: Master Level Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Feb 10, 2015 9:17 PM CST
Are you planting them in the ground or into containers?
Mine grow in containers and I try to fertilize the containers every few weeks.

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
Feb 10, 2015 9:49 PM CST
Hi Chris, and welcome to ATP !!

I don't know where you live or what stage your plants are at, or what your preferences are as far as organic gardening goes, but here's what I do:

I start seeds indoors about 8 weeks before I expect to be able to plant them outside, using Miracle Grow potting soil; this is a little controversial, a lot of people don't like MG, but it works for me. When I plant them out I dig a hole, toss in a shovelful of compost and about a half cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer (I don't grow strictly organic, obviously -- but I do limit pesticide use), mix all that up with the dirt in the hole, put in the plant and fill the hole in. I cage my plants with wooden cages that we built, and mulch with clippings from our lawn. I use Miracle Grow fertilizer a couple of times during the season. My plants typically get to about 6 feet tall and are not the earliest to start producing, but are always plenty productive.

Please tell us a little more about your growing conditions and so on, and then we can give you more specific information!

I'm looking forward to "seeing" more of you around the All Things Plants site! And if you have any questions about using the site, click on "forums" (on the left side of the page) and scroll way down to "site talk," or send me a "tree mail" and I'll be happy to help you out! Smiling
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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
Feb 11, 2015 12:08 PM CST

Welcome! Welcome to ATP.

I like to usae a low Nitrogen liquid fertilizer on my peppers and tomatoes every two weeks. I do really love Neptunes Harvest or AlgroFlash.

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