EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

MsCowpea
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#101

Post: # 10589Unread post MsCowpea
Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:00 pm

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These didn’t get tied up properly. So they are sprawling in their cage. We do try and tie up branches as they grow but once you let them go it is hard to beat them back into submission.

Same plant. Haven’t taken a pic of this one yet. Mountain Magic. It had a combination of fertilizer added to the box itself.
1 cup synthetic (12-16-10? I will double check this NPK, know it was a synthetic.) and 1 1/2 cups Tomato Tone. Looks really good. Greener than the all organic box.
Lots of tomatoes.
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#102

Post: # 10645Unread post Bronx
Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:35 am

Pepperhead and MsCowpea,

Thans for your replies. I never thought of using bungee cords, but might try that. I live alone so I don't think I can get the dog to keep his paw on the string while I tie it!

I did try pulling the elastic out of a used Earthbox cover to put around the garbage bag but that was a failure. It was stretched beyond hope; lost most of its elasticity after one season.

Getting back on topic, your tomatoes look amazing. I'm following this thread with great interest. I normally use whatever I can find locally that's as close to the 10 10 10 that Earthbox recommends. I have had decent results with that but nothing spectacular. Not much to choose from in the big box stores near me.

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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#103

Post: # 10732Unread post MsCowpea
Sun Feb 16, 2020 2:03 pm

Code: Select all

  live alone so I don't think I can get the dog to keep his paw on the string while I tie it!      
Oh, that is too funny. Made me smile. I don’t know why my lazy cats don’t help me either.

That earthbox cover has everyone stumped . Buying them on sale from EB is always an option but there just seems like there’s got to be an easy alternative, I am going to try tying the corners - I think that could be done with no help. I will try it out to see. I think a few office clips would hold it as the corners were tied. I also like to put in my plants first and then place the plastic where I can see to make slits that will then go around the plant. Then I put a small piece of duct tape to close the slit, like I said, a total pain in the neck. I do it that way because sometimes I need to get the plants in the earthbox because they are getting big, then I will come back with the cover and fertilizer a few days later. I am not suggesting anyone do it this way.
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#104

Post: # 10743Unread post MsCowpea
Sun Feb 16, 2020 2:28 pm

Bronx, I forgot to ask. How long does your season last? Does the 10-10-10 keep your tomatoes going a long time? Are you happy with the production? It certainly is probably one of the most used inputs. I am trying to figure out the advantages other than it is much less expensive. Maybe production? Maybe goes 5 months? Healthier plants? Sorry for all the questions. Also did you use ‘The Snack’, calcium nitrate?
I am not trying to sway anyone away from their favorite (and successful inputs) . Everybody has their own preferences. I just like to experiment when I am looking for something specific.
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#105

Post: # 10802Unread post MsCowpea
Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:08 pm

Few observations: (very helpful to chronicle the progression thru the season with photos- it really was fun to observe the plants over time.)

My original intent: 1. Wanted to compare various organic fertilizers in the EB itself. 2. Compare to a synthetic input. 3. Find an organic supplement to use in the Earthbox in addition to the strip. Calcium nitrate (The Snack) poured down the EB tube had become a popular addition. (At a brief EarthBox talk at Research Center they said you could use Miracle Gro down the tube when the Earthbox started ‘flagging’. Others use other conventional/synthetics as well to kickstart their EB and continue to feed it all season..

4. Compare a few supplemental additions with each other and to boxes that had nothing added.

5. Also look at some ‘combo’ boxes with both types of fertilizers.

The thing is I started all this before TomatoJunction existed so I pretty much did this and that without much thought. I knew I wanted to use up old products. Looking back I would have done it a lot differently.

I wasn’t even sure what I was going to use for the organic liquid supplement. I had synthetic products.

The big fly in the ointment. DISEASES.

(Continued)
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#106

Post: # 10886Unread post MsCowpea
Mon Feb 17, 2020 3:13 pm

Got all this off 4 EB . Juliets from organic box. Juliets from all synthetic box. Juliets from a combo box (organic fertilizer strip + alternate inputs) Mountain Magic’s from 2 organic boxes. Curtis Cheek from a combo box.
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#107

Post: # 10899Unread post MsCowpea
Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:29 pm

Continuing Observations:

The thing is I started all this before TomatoJunction existed so I pretty much did this and that without much thought. I knew I wanted to use up old products.

I have ended up with more questions and more plans to try some new things. I can make some observations.

First off, if you are having problems with plant growth look at your potting mix first. My soilless mix was new and had a component of pine bark. Though this is not necessary as most use a mix of peat, perlite, and vermiculite . One thing I found, sometimes the mixes that are labeled ‘organic’ seem awful heavy and dense so I would experiment before I sunk a lot of money into an organic mix for multiple EBs. They sometimes have compost and other ingredients usually not used in an EB. These organic mixes may be great for regular containers but someone may want to trial in an EB and compare to the traditional soilless mixes. Also how would an organic mix perform if you wanted to reuse. Would it break down completely into muck or not.
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#108

Post: # 10968Unread post MsCowpea
Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:43 am

If you are not looking to go all organic this box looks really good. Yes, it is a hybrid. Planted out with the second group. (The diseased bit in the left corner is another plant.)
It is 1/2 organic and 1/2 synthetic in the strip. (1 cup 12-16-10 I think one of these numbers is off, I used something years old out of the shed.)
When I plug those numbers in online I get a fertilizer with milorganite added and I wouldn’t buy anything with that.). (Also used
1 1/2 cups of Espoma Tomato Tone.). (I started supplementing few times with TTF about 2 months into the season.) The tomato tastes good too. It is the hybrid Mountain Magic.
The plant is still nice and green though the diseases are creeping up.

It is my general impression (based on just a few boxes) that if you are going to use a combo approach you may want to try
adding the synthetic/conventional granular to the box itself along with the organic fertilizer. Now, what percentage to use? I am not sure.
All synthetics boxes don’t taste good to me but my tastes are mine, everyone is different. CORRECTION: I ONLY USED 1 1/2 Cups of ORGANIC
( NOT 2 ) TO 1 CUP SYNTHETIC). IF I WERE TO USE ONLY 1/2 CUP SYNTHETIC, I WOULD PROBABLY GO FOR THE 2 CUPS OF ORGANIC. THESE ARE JUST CONFIGURATIONS THAT I WOULD LIKE TO TRY FOR MYSELF —NOT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ANYONE ELSE. IT ALSO DEPENDS ON WHAT NPK is being used.)

Remember the days when Tomato Tone was not all organic? People got upset when they changed the formula. But if you add a bit of conventional fert to TT then it might be closer to the original formula. I don’t actually mix them together but I guess it doesn’t matter how you do it.

Also want to say , I prefer to find the best method to grow totally organic in an EB. But there are variations some might want to try.
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#109

Post: # 10974Unread post MsCowpea
Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:36 pm

This plant did not look right from the get go. It is supposed to have wispy leaves but they always looked very small and funny dense growth. Never grew tall. Maybe this is normal. Curtis Cheek. I think this one will do much better if I grow again with different inputs so looking forward to trying it again one day. Looks to be very productive.

It had NS 8-5-5 . And I added 3 tbls of time release Dynamite. (I wouldn’t do this again. Though I used so little I don’t think it had an impact one way or another.) Supplemented with hydroponic fert. And TTF.
Anyway did not stop the plant from producing. Had about 40 or more tomatoes, all sizes. You can see some in post 106. Looks really dreadful now but I’m still giving supplement. It still has a lot of tomatoes on it but very diseased.

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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#110

Post: # 11022Unread post pepperhead212
Tue Feb 18, 2020 7:24 pm

It had NS 8-5-5 . And I added 3 tbls of time release Dynamite. (I wouldn’t do this again.). Supplemented with hydroponic fert. And TTF.

[/quote]



I'm curious, what nutrients does dynamite have in it - Ca and MG? :lol:
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#111

Post: # 11174Unread post MsCowpea
Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:28 pm

Dynamite 13-13-13. Flowers and Vegetables (Feeds up to 9 months)
No calcium, Magnesium 1.2 %
I used so little I don’t think it had an impact one way or another. ( will add this to previous post)
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#112

Post: # 11176Unread post MsCowpea
Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:49 pm

What a difference ONE DAY makes with all the rain. This is the 1/2 and 1/2 box that looked so good with the disease just starting at the bottom.( post 108)
Now it has gone almost clear up to the top. Though there are branches at the very top with many tomatoes still disease free. But I would give it a day or two before it is completely diseased. If you can get a handle on these foliage diseases with proper controls I have read you can get a couple more weeks. The box itself prior to disease appearance did very well.
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#113

Post: # 11181Unread post MsCowpea
Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:25 pm

I removed all the diseased leaves 6 days ago (see post 96) leaving a few reasonable looking ones at the top . But unfortunately in some cases the plant is just too far gone. This is the top leaves today. Didn’t really buy me any time. (I did go back to the hydroponic fertilizer with the higher N on Sunday.) Still got a lot of tomatoes from this plant. Taste wise it was all over the place. I did get some good tasting Barlow Japs
from another box.
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#114

Post: # 11189Unread post Bronx
Wed Feb 19, 2020 7:07 pm

MsCowpea,

Sorry for the late reply. Haven't been on the forum since Saturday.

I'm in Ventura County, Ca so I have a long season. Put the plants in their boxes mid April and they ususlly die off around Thanksgiving. 2019 was unusual in that I was getting Earthbox tomatoes until just after Christmas. I still have a cherry tomato in the ground that has fruit and flowers. Still picking a few tomatoes off that every week. It's up against the house so maybe the radiant heat from the house is keeping it alive. We get frost here in the middle of Winter so it should have died off by now.

In my Earthboxes I had been using an all purpose synthetic 10-10-10 fertilizer called Sta-Green that I got at Walmart, but my local store stopped selling it. It did seem to last the whole season, and I do supplement with calcium nitrate (when I remember to apply it), a couple tablespoons down the watering hole once a week or so. I do that mainly to help keep BER in check. Two years ago I tried supplementing with Texas Tomato Food starting mid-season because I read a lot of positive things about it on another forum. I didn't really notice a difference so I only did that one year.

Last year I bought a bunch of Earthbox replant kits when I was able to get them on sale with free shipping. Their fertilizer didn't seem to be any better or worse than the Walmart stuff.

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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#115

Post: # 11199Unread post pepperhead212
Wed Feb 19, 2020 8:42 pm

MsCowpea wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:28 pm
Dynamite 13-13-13. Flowers and Vegetables (Feeds up to 9 months)
No calcium, Magnesium 1.2 %
I used so little I don’t think it had an impact one way or another. ( will add this to previous post)
I see now - I had to look the brand up! Seems awfully expensive, and what I saw, not even organic.

@Bronx

That Sta-Green was the other I got I couldn't remember! I'll bet Wal-Mart dropped it, and Ollie's bought out their excess, and that's where I got the one time deal on it.
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#116

Post: # 11228Unread post MsCowpea
Thu Feb 20, 2020 12:22 am

Bronx, thanks for replying. Yes, 10-10-10 works great in the EB . I think that sort of fertilizer is what it was originally designed for. When I asked the EB inventor at the EarthBox Research Center what he preferred to use - he said conventional (regular) fertilizer. (I believe he was a long time traditional tomato farmer prior to EB. Super nice gentleman and helpful, always willing to answer questions.) They sell a 7-7-7 synthetic replant kit which I have used several times over the years. And they sell 8-5-5 organic replant kit. (These kits online are super expensive.)

I also see why the calcium nitrate snack came to be as 10-10-10 doesn’t have any calcium and it also would give the box a nitrogen boost.
At the Research Center they said you could use Miracle Gro in a flagging box.

I do find organic fertilizer works very well but foliage diseases have decimated my tomatoes early for several years now . Both containers and inground in raised beds.
I can still squeak by and get lots of tomatoes (way more than I know what to do with) but I don’t have a long season like you.

To have a season that long in an organic EB I would need some type of supplement like the calcium nitrate you use as the organic fertilizer could not possibly feed the plant that long. I would still like to find an organic supplement though I still haven’t figured out what to use. Or how to go about it. (Only have possible ideas.) I am also considering various other disease control measures as that is overshadowing everything we do.
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#117

Post: # 11229Unread post MsCowpea
Thu Feb 20, 2020 12:38 am

Pepperhead,

I had many Earthboxes and decided to try different fertilizer and inputs in the boxes. Most all had various organic fertilizers in the EB itself.
3 boxes had synthetic dynamite 13-13-13 added as I had some and wanted to get rid of it. I thought it would sort-of make a Miracle Gro type of potting mix as they add time- release fertilizer to their mixes. But I didn’t mix it in nor did I use very much, I wouldn’t bother with it again.
I did know someone who used all time-released fertilizer (like an Osmocote-type) in their 2 earthboxes despite the fact that Earthbox doesn’t recommend this at all.
She was happy with the results. I used nothing but time-release fertilizer to grow potatoes one year and I would barely call them edible though I did get 5 pounds of those lousy potatoes in a Smart Pot.
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#118

Post: # 11251Unread post Ginger2778
Thu Feb 20, 2020 6:47 am

MsCowpea wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 12:22 am
Bronx, thanks for replying. Yes, 10-10-10 works great in the EB . That sort of fertilizer is what it was originally designed for. When I asked the EB inventor at the EarthBox Research Center what he preferred to use - he said conventional fertilizer. (I believe he was a long time traditional tomato farmer prior to EB. Super nice gentleman and helpful, always willing to answer questions.) They sells a 7-7-7 synthetic replant kit which I have used several times over the years. And they sell 8-5-5 organic replant kit. (These kits online are super expensive.)

I also see why the calcium nitrate snack came to be as 10-10-10 doesn’t have any calcium and it also would give the box a nitrogen boost.
At the Research Center they said you could use Miracle Gro in a flagging box.

I do find organic fertilizer works very well but foliage diseases have decimated my tomatoes early for several years now . Both containers and inground in raised beds.
I can still squeak by and get lots of tomatoes (way more than I know what to do with) but I don’t have a long season like you.

To have a season that long in an organic EB I would need some type of supplement like the calcium nitrate you use as the organic fertilizer could not possibly feed the plant that long. I would still like to find an organic supplement though I still haven’t figured out what to use. (Only have possible ideas.) I am also considering various other disease control measures as that is overshadowing everything we do.
The diseases this season have been horrible. I don't have what it would take in me to keep this amount of disease controlled in a garden with around 100 full size tomato plants. I think everything will be done by mid March, certainly by the end of March, and usually I still have fruit until June. I have to look up a flagging box, I never heard of one.
About the snack, I noticed that Bronx uses a couple of tablespoons down the Earthbox hole which is a huge amount, and would require a whole lot of Epsom salt to counter balance. I read from other Earthbox, and also earthtainer users that 1 teaspoon for the 3 gallon reservoir per week is enough, and 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon of MgS04 to balance it so that there isn't a magnesium deficiency caused by the Ca(No3)2. Thats what I used, but this year I only used it once, and the weird grassy taste I used to get didn't happen this year.
Bronx please, why do you use a 2 tablespoon dose, and do you add any Epsom salt to counter balance?
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#119

Post: # 11267Unread post MsCowpea
Thu Feb 20, 2020 10:01 am

I thought maybe he meant tsp. But as you said that is still way more than the original dose recommendation. Glad you asked about it.
Which do you prefer , the calcium nitrate +Mg down the tube or some other supplement? I never got tomatoes until June - they would have packed it up months before that. Was that using TT and calcium nitrate+Mg ? Or something else. Anything other than the copper and bT?
I always knew that diseases would take down a plant pretty quick but it is eye opening to take photos of the progress.

(Once at the EB center demonstration talk. they discussed using Miracle Gro down the tube after the plant had been going a while. By flagging I just mean that it is not looking as good as it once was or the plant has been going a while. Flagging is my term. They didn’t suggest using it immediately like they do with calcium nitrate either. And I saw the demonstration and little short talk on setting up an EB and taking care of an EB maybe 4 times and only once did they mention putting anything down the tube so it wasn’t part of the usual instructions. I don’t know if they mention it now or not. People may bring it up because of the snack popularity???

I just reread your post- do you think the weird grassy taste you got before was because of the calcium nitrate + ? That wouldn’t be good.
It would seem better to use something that was more balanced with the proper amount of potassium and other nutrients along with calcium if you needed calcium. More like the Jacks you tried??? I know you said you weren’ t thrilled with it , maybe use less??. I don’t know. I find putting anything down the tube a pain. I will try a few things and if I find something that is brilliant I would do it but if possible I would just like to top off the mix with more organic granular fertilizer if I was going for a strictly organic box. If that isn’t an issue than there are other combinations.
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Re: EarthBox Fertilizer Comparisons 2020

#120

Post: # 11412Unread post MsCowpea
Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:55 am

I am thinking that without a comparison one would never know what is causing what anyway. So unless a person had 2 boxes with new mix and then added calcium nitrate in one and none in the other you would never know what the effect the Ca has on growth , yield, taste, or whatever.
Plus reusing the mix for many years as many people do is changing the whole dynamic of whatever you are inputting. The density and water holding capacity of the lower part of the mix would be very different than new mix. Salinity levels, pH , etc. may be effected. None of this matters if someone is happy and satisfied with their results.
I also know (but sometimes forget) that phenomenal growth and yield doesn’t necessarily transfer into great taste. What a person is inputting effects the flavor-that is only common sense. But then you get into that whole ‘taste’ quandary- what tastes good to one may not to another. So , obviously you have to go by your own preferences. I remember someone said they accidentally used a perfumed Epsom salts meant for the bath on their plants and their tomatoes tasted funny.

Here is post from TV from GardenDoc (creator of the ‘snack’). April 2017 Looking to change things up a bit.
“Fertilizer in an EarthBox is a murky thing. I use granular based on 2 cups 5-5-5, like 1 cup 10-10-10 and so on. This year I'm trying an idea I picked up after speaking and visiting the tomato farm in FL that originated the EB idea. This year I'm strictly using Miracle Gro, 1 tsp weekly and 1 tsp of snack every other week.”

I am not sure what the results were —or if he made the switch permanently. Sure is the most economical way to fertilize an EB.
Wouldn’t be my choice but everyone does their own thing. What is note worthy is how teeny tiny the dosages- 1 tsp for the whole EB.
Now my memory is failing me-I thought the EB person at the center said 1 Tbl. of MG Per EB but they may not have meant weekly. Plus they are not doing this at the center as far as I know. It was just a recommendation to customers in the setup class IF they thought it was needed.
(I didn’t like the flavor of the tomatoes I bought at the EB Center but that could strictly be a variety thing.)


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