Tomato and Pepper - New Garderner

saoodhashimSeptember 29, 2013


Being a new gardener, I purchased two small tomato and pepper plants from the local garden shop and planted it in big containers of 14" and 12" for tomatoes and pepper each. Bought potting soil from them which says it has all the nutrients (dont give any further details). I have been watering them for the past 2 weeks or so. But can't tell whether they have grown any bit. Perhaps I am watching them everyday - thrice or even more that I am not able notice any growth. But even if they are growing, the speed is surely very slow.

The temperature over here starts from around high 70F sunset (around 5:30 am) and quickly shoots upto 100F by 12 or 1 pm and from then onwards reducing slowing reaching around 92-93 by sunset. I have put in appropriate shades (50%) which I put on them after 11 am when the temperature is in the early 90s. The shade remains in place untill the sunset. Actually I don't have any direct sunlight from around 2 pm onwards

I haven't fertilized them as yet - relying on the initial fertlizer that is supposedly in the potting mix.

Considering all the above information and provided if everything else that I am doing is right, is the growth ok?

Appreciate your help.

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Tomatoes and peppers need more fertilizer than the amount in your potting soil. This is true for all potting mixes I have seen in the United States and it is likely to be true for the potting soil you purchased. In a container in high heat where you are going to have to water very often, fertilizer will be leached out of the soil rapidly. I add a slow release fertilizer to my potting mix before I put my plants in the pot and then fertilize with a fast acting fertilizer dissolved in water every one or two weeks during the growing season. Some times I use an organic granular fertilizer called Tomatotone that is sprinkled on the soil and mixed in every two weeks. My tomatoes and peppers grow very quickly after I plant them in their containers. The fact that you have not seen any growth in two weeks tells me that they need to be fertilized now and regularly throughout their growth.

What fertilizers are available to you? Ideally you need a fertilizer that contains Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium, plus Calcium, Magnesium and trace minerals. The percent of each element is not important, but the ratio is. You want a fertilizer that has more N and K than P, with a ratio like 3 parts nitrogen to 1 part phosphorous to 2 or 3 parts potassium. You only need tiny amounts of the other chemicals. Miracle Gro makes dozens of different fertilizers with different ratios, so don't worry about trying to match one of their fertilizers. Too much fertilizer can be worse than not enough, so you need to figure out the right amount to add.

Your high heat may be a problem. In the American South where temperatures during the summer are like yours, people grow tomatoes and peppers during the cooler seasons. Do you have a cooler season?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 12:05PM
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Thanks a million for the reply,

Yes, we do have cooler seasons but of course not to the extent that Northern US receives. Currently the temperature are heading downward and the lowest will be reached in January at around 48-50F and a High then of around 70-75F.

The fertilizer that I have found is composted cow manure with an NPK of 1.18%, 0.57% and 2.65% respectively. I perhaps have to do much more research in the local market to find other options. I did find one liquid fertilizer - but it only had nitrogen and CaCl in it. I also found some granular fertlizer - cant remember the ratio right now.

Now that I have planted my plants in their supposedly final containers, how do you suggest should I proceed?. Should I add the cow manure (it is completed composted)? and how much should I add and how should I apply. Sprinkle it? Apply it beneath the surface of the soil? Dig it deep? and how much? Franfkly I dont have a clue as to how much is too much or too less. I have been trying to get the hang of it for some time now, but sometimes it goes like one table spoon and sometimes 2 table spoon and sometimes in between - everyone seems to have their own ways. Nothing seems to be sort of scientific or standardized :)

As for the weather being too hot, the local garden shop each day sells quite a high volume of small tomato, pepper and egg plant - most of them are going to the garden though unlike mine going to the container. So while the weather is a bit on the hotter side, I think the high sales does suggest that people over here are planting the seedlings in their gardens. Perhaps the container's dynamic are different from the ground planting. However, I have put on the 50% shade cloth to cover up the high temperature times as I told in my original post. Infact, with the watering that I doing - I rarely have to do a second watering in the evening. I water in early morning - sometimes even skipping that - and finding that evening watering is rarely required. Perhaps this has to do with the humidity level over here. It does not go below 20% even at midday. Morning / evening its around 30-33%.

Sorry for the rather long reply.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 1:52PM
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