Summer fruiting crops such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants will benefit from a side-dressing of fertilizer when they first set fruit and every 4 to 6 weeks thereafter.
Feed fruiting crops that have flowered and set fruit with liquid balanced fertilizers such as compost tea, comfrey tea or solid organic fertilizers in powder, pellet, or granular form. Liquid organic fertilizers can be watered-in around the base of plants or applied directly to crop leaves as foliar feeds. Solid fertilizers can be applied as a top dressing or band of fertilizer around the base of each plant.
Amount of fertilizer. If a manure fertilizer was used at planting time, reduce the fertilizer rate by one-half. Manures are generally high in nitrogen. A balanced fertilizer contains equal or near equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
When using a commercial organic or non-organic fertilizer, always follow the label directions on the package. Too much fertilizer can be as or more harmful to plants than not enough.
For higher yields of fruiting crops such as tomatoes and peppers, extra phosphorus and potassium should be given after flowering and fruiting.
For higher yields of leafy crops and crops that have overwintered in the soil such as autumn-planted onions, a top dressing of nitrogen rich fertilizer will act as a crop booster.
Fertilizer timing. It usually takes 10 to 12 weeks from the time transplants are set in the garden for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants to ripen their first fruit. Fertilize these crops with a side-dressing, one month and then again two months after transplanting—as a guide.
Foliar feeding. Vegetables can take a limited amount of nutrients in through their leaves; this is called foliar feeding. Use a watering can with a fine rose and foliar feed with compost tea, comfrey tea, or seaweed extracts.
Foliar feeding is particularly helpful as a boost or tonic for plants that are lagging or off to a slow start. Foliar feeding commonly results in plants gaining a deep green, healthy look soon after feeding.
Dry fertilizers are generally watered in after they are applied as a side-dressing. Foliar feeding does not require watering of the soil before or after applying fertilizer. Foliar feed when the soil is already moist or when the weather is particularly dry and plants can use both a watering and fertilizer application.
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