* Prices may differ from that shown
It's August now and this can be a very satisfying time for gardeners, as we begin to see the fruits of our labours. My shallots are already up and drying and each time I pass them I think dreamily of using them in intense, comforting casseroles this winter, and pickled in cold cuts lunches, such as on Boxing Day.
My tomatoes might join them at Christmas if I get enough to make chutney, but first I've got to nurture the crop to full ripeness, and that is rarely easy.
I don't have a greenhouse, so in one sense it's marvellous that I CAN grow tomatoes outdoors. Back in the day I don't think we had these hardier varieties. It was certainly rare to hear of anyone growing them outside. One of the problems, however, is in regulating the conditions. Last year was dreadful because so much rain fell. When it's drier, not only do they get the sun they need, but you can be more in control of the water supply, the regulation of which is very important when growing tomatoes successfully.
One weapon the gardener has that will help to make tomatoes grow more healthily and crop more heavily is a liquid feed, with Doff's version probably being the best value.
DOFF LIQUID TOMATO FEED
This is available in 500ml, 1 litre and 2.5 litre containers. I wouldn't expect to spend more than £1.99 for 500ml or £3.00 for a litre. Judge offers of larger quantities accordingly and remember that it's worth looking in places like Poundland and Pound Stretcher for this sort of product.
The feed contains a range of nutrients for your tomatoes.
There is nitrogen, which helps with leaf growth; phosphorous that promotes strong roots and potassium which helps the flowers and the fruit to grow. The problem with putting so much potassium into the soil is that it inhibits the absorption by the plant of magnesium, which the plant needs to make chlorophyll, which is necessary for efficient photosynthesis. That's why a tomato feed like this that is high in potassium will also contain magnesium and also, as in this case, seaweed extract, which helps to stimulate chlorophyll production.
HOW TO USE IT
You don't need to apply tomato feed until the flowers have set on the first truss, in the case of greenhouse grown tomatoes. If growing outside, wait for the second truss to set. Add a capful of the liquid to 7 litres (about 1.5 gallons) of water and pour at the base of the plant. This quantity should feed nine plants inside and twelve outside, so adjust accordingly. Inside you can feed every seven days - outside about every ten days, but later, as further trusses set, you can increase the frequency if desired. You can do this anyway if you want a bigger crop.
Remember two things about watering/feeding tomatoes. One is regularity and the other is to feed at the base of the plant. There are two reasons for the latter. One, obviously, is that the water/feed finds its way more quickly to the roots. The second is that splashing on the leaves in strong sunlight can lead to scorching and we want those leaves to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible. The lower leaves will yellow naturally as the tomatoes grow and they should simply be removed. Don't worry about that in the later stages, but if it's happening before your toms have appeared you've got a problem. A further thought on watering is that I always water all my plants when the sun has gone down, both to prevent scorching and to avoid premature evaporation.
BUT DOES IT WORK?
Yes it does. Bear in mind that there could be other factors at play if your tomatoes don't crop well. The addition of these nutrients can only help the process and enhance what you're doing already. Other makes of feed may contain higher levels of magnesium, but my leaves have tended to stay healthy.
And a bonus is that tomato feed isn't only good for tomatoes. Use it on your courgettes, aubergines and cucumbers too. You can use it on any of your plants, but bear in mind that it is designed to produce lots of healthy flowers and plump fruit, and therefore is high in potassium. If you want to encourage more green growth, then you would be better using a fertilizer that is higher in nitrogen.
Growing tomatoes is great fun, sometimes frustrating, but usually rewarding with an abundance of lovely, flavoursome fruits and, as I said, in times of glut you can always make chutney. Use Doff Liquid Tomato Feed and all being well it won't be GREEN tomato chutney!
I do love our garden but really don't have much of a clue about growing stuff but last year I had a go at growing tomatoes & am delighted to say they were yummy & plentiful. This year I'm growing a different sort of tomato which have much smaller stems & seem to be doing really well so far. We don't have a greenhouse so I've been growing them outdoors in pouches & pots.
It said to 'feed' when the flowers started to appear & having no idea what this really meant but unwilling to pay the £6.99 for the make recommended by the plant suppliers, I took myself off to the poundshops to see if they had an equivalent which is where I found a 600ml bottle of Doff Toamto feed which even had 20% extra free.
The bright red plastic bottle has a screw-on/off white plastic top which, when removed, reveals a hole around the size of a 10p piece which means it's easy to pour out as the top acts as a measure.
It states on the front that the liquid is suitable for fruits & vegetables but I've also used it on sturdy plants & have achieved great results to date.
Doff claims that the product does the following -
- 'encourages strong, healthy growth in the garden & under glass'
- 'promotes top quality full flavoured produce'
I can say that I think these claims are true because I did a test last year by using it in certain pots of tomato plants whilst not adding to others. The ones which had been given Doff grew taller & produced more tomatoes of a bigger size.
I also use it in a hanging basket & on some planted bedding plants & the Doff seemed to bring them back to life & promoted an unexpected crop of flowers.
I've stored this in a dark cupboard since last year & was surprised to see how little I'd used so in my opinion it's very economical. It only needs 10ml to make up 7 litres - 270 litres from a whole bottle.
All the directions for use ( using outdoors or in the greenhouse) are clearly given on the reverse label of the bottle along with the usual cautions when using plus all the ingredients which include magnesium,, nitrogen, zinc etc.
- brill stuff which really worked for my plants last year ( & still using it this year).
- paid just £1 so really eceonomical to use.
- a real diffrence between those tomatoes, aubergines & flowering plants fed with Doff & those not.
- recommended product for use by green/non-green fingered gardeners.
A nourishing feed for tomatoes, aubergines and flowering plants.