Tomato Test: Miracle Gro General Purpose Food or Tomato Food- Which is best?

Tomato Test: Miracle Gro General Purpose Food or Tomato Food- Which is best?

I wonder, do you really need special tomato food for great tomatoes? What is the difference between general purpose plant food and tomato food anyway?  Good question….

IMG_9393 IMG_9394

Well, general purpose Miracle Gro has 24% nitrogen which is good for leaf development, 8% Phosphate which is good for seed and  flower development and finally 16% Potash or Potassium which is good for general plant health.

And, the tomato food has IMG_9397 IMG_939518% Nitrogen, 18% Phosphate and 21 % Potash or Potassium:

So, which one will produce more tomatoes? To find out I purchased two tomato plants. The variety is Sweet ‘n’ Neat from Bonnie Plants, purchased from Lowe’s in 4″ peat pots. It’s a hybrid tomato and it’s determinate which means it reaches a pre-determined size and stops, making it good for containers. It is supposed to produce tomatoes in 48 days from planting (6-17-2013) so we’ll see how it does! First, the planting…

Planting tomatoes in containers

First, be certain the planting mix you use is evenly moist.  I pour 2 Cubit feet bags of potting soil into a large plastic garbage can next to my potting bench so it’s easy to use. It can dry out that way though, so I scoop some into an enamel basin I keep on the bench and water and toss it to evenly moisten the soil before planting:




Because planting mix usually has peat in it it’s hard to re-wet once it gets dry.  Stir the bottom of the mix to the top a few times to get all the dry spots.  It can all look wet and a dry pocket can suddenly appear.


Next clip the plastic wrapper and tear off the top section of the pot along with the plastic. By leaving most of the pot intact you disturb the roots less and they will grow through the peat pot and establish more quickly.




I used a coffee filter in the bottom of the pot (thanks for the idea Pinterest) so we’ll see how that works.  I usually use little squares of screen over the drain holes.  The filter covers the entire bottom of the 8″ pots so soil shouldn’t run out the holes…( 10″ pots are recommended for this variety  but I like a challenge!)


Once you fill the pot about 2/3 will planting mix, remove the bottom few leaves from the tomato plant ( roots will develop all along the stem) and plant it deeply, up to the bottom set of leaves.  Tap in soil around the plant to get rid of air pockets and water well.



Here are our subjects.  The one on the left looks larger but it was sitting further back on the shelf when I bought it so the stem stretched out a little reaching for light.  The plants are basically the same size and each has five tiny tomatoes beginning to grow. After a week to rest and establish themselves after planting I will begin following directions on the fertilizer packages and we’ll see what happens. Can I really get more tomatoes with tomato food? Can I grow these tomatoes in an 8 inch pot? Well, I guess we’ll see!

Do you grow tomatoes or other vegetables in pots….share your story in comments!

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