supplementary feeding

Usually in the middle of the summer season some of the tomatoes begin to flag and need supplementary feeding.  At this stage I like to add some bone meal.  The roots of tomato plants typically grow vertically (unlike my muscadines where their roots head out horizontally and, like the vines, seem to extend for considerable distances, to suck up the nutrients intended for neighboring plants).

the drill, arbor, and pipe attached to funnel

My tomatoes are enclosed in tomato cages and are mulched with layers of newspaper and tree chippings and the irrigation pipes are secured to the base of the cages.  Which means it would be a lot of work to add bone meal powder to the surface soil surrounding the plant.  Two further negatives are that bone meal attracts dogs and carnivorous animals and it would take time for the bone meal to migrate to the roots more than 1 ft below the soil surface.






shows pipe in place, bone meal powder, magnesium lime with spoon, hose and stick to clear blockages

I decided to simplify the task by introducing the nutrients directly to the roots.  The process is: a) using a root arbor attached to a portable drill, drill a 1.5 ft hole about 8″ from the plant angled vertically towards the base of the plant; b) attach a 2.5ft length of 1″ pipe to a 4″ funnel (see ‘photo); c) insert the 1″ pipe fully into the hole; d) spoon the bone meal into the funnel attached to the pipe; e) use hose water to convey the nutrients down the hole; f) use a slender long stick to clear the pipe when its jams.

This methods works adequately and I subsequently use the hole made by the arbor for watering the plant, which helps to dissolve the nutrients at the base of the plant.


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