Monday, August 2, 2010

Tumbler tomatoes in containers, part 2

This is the time of summer when container grown tomato plants will start to go yellow and look really sad if they aren't getting enough of the nutrients and minerals they need to be healthy and produce delicious fruit. Folks who grow the Tumbler tomato plants I sell in the spring ask me about what I do to provide the plants with the nourishment they need, so......'s what I do:
I start by mixing up a potting soil (in my wheelbarrow) that's made of SeaSoil potting mix (from Home Hardware on Mayne Island) some of my compost and some shredded coco coir (for water retention). I fill my growing container with the potting soil mix and then I add about a cup full of complete organic fertilizer and mix it all up and moisten. Then I make a hole and plant the seedling in the hole with some earthworm up with potting soil and lightly press down the soil...that will give the little plant a good start!

The greenhouse Tumblers, just after planting up in their summer growing pots, end of April/beginning of May. I wait 'til end of May/beginning of June to plant my outdoor pots.

Complete organic fertilizer is a mixture of natural ingredients that supply a combination of nitrogen, phosporous and potassium, plus a few other goodies that plants like. I buy these ingredients in bulk and store them in metal bins in the garden. In this photo: bags of alfalfa meal, kelp meal, soft rock phosphate. If you live on Mayne Island and go into Victoria from time to time, 2 good sources of ingredients are Buckerfield's on Keating Cross and Borden Mercantile near Quadra and Mackenzie. Many farm supply stores carry these ingredients.

These are the metal garbage cans I use for storing my complete organic fertilizer ingredients and the finished mix.

The basic recipe I follow:
for nitrogen: 4 parts seed meal (canola, alfalfa)
for phosphorous: 1/2 part soft rock phosphate or bone meal
for potassium: 1/2 part kelp meal or sometimes a mix of kelp meal and greensand
for calcium: 1/2 part dolomite lime and wood ash combined
I often add a little extra bone meal to the mix when making this for tomatoes because I read somewhere that phosphorous encourages the plant to produce more flowers and so therefore more fruit...and I've noticed, it really seems to work!

I find that the complete organic fertilizer breaks down in time to continue providing nourishment to the plant after the compost in the pot has been depleted, usually beginning of July. As the plant starts to set and ripen lots of fruit, sometime in July, I like to start watering it with a seaweed tea. This has worked wonderfully for me and my tumbler tomato plants produce loads and loads of delicious red jewels.

There are liquid seaweed concentrates available to buy and I basically make a tea with them by mixing a small amount with water in a watering can....these are 2 that I use....Home Hardware's garden centre on Mayne is now carrying some of these.
But eventually, I'd like to make my own concentrates for watering and feeding.

These are some old wine barrels we've set up to collect rain water from a shed roof. I'm planning to steep all sorts of good things in them to create some lovely homemade feeds for my container plants while I water them....I hope to make concentrates of nettles, comfrey, seaweed, horsetail, manure, compost, etc...but that is another story for another I must be off to water my Tumblers with kelp infusion and harvest some more for dinner!


  1. Hi - I'm in Victoria and was wondering where you got your wine barrels from? I'm looking to use some cut in half as planters.



  2. I got my barrels here at Mayne Island's Home Hardware. For the past couple years, the folks there go to the Okanagan in the springtime to pick up a big load from the wineries to bring back to us. They cut some in half too, for Victoria, I'm not sure, but I think I've seen some at Buckerfield's on Keating Cross and I'd also try Capital Iron downtown in their outdoor pottery area? I use them for planters too and love them. Good luck on your search!

  3. Hi,
    My name is Sigita. Nice blog you have. Already come thrue all. Just want to ask about tumblder-tomatoes. I'm try to grow this tomatoes for the first time. At the moment it look like normal tomatos I'm just wondering when they will fall down?
    Thanks for the answer.

  4. Hi Sigita, your tomatoes look great! When you transplant them into larger pots, (1 plant per 10"-12" diameter pot) they will continue to grow many more side shoots from where the leaves meet the stem. These will grow longer and longer, flower and when the tomatoes form, the weight will pull them down, causing them to "tumble" over the side of the pot. This usually happens in my garden by the end of June, beginning of July. Looks like you're going to have a bumper crop!