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One of the hungriest plants in your garden, one of the fussiest eaters is the tomato plant.
Now, I always compare it to children because children can be a bit fussy. One day they want something to eat, the next day they do not want that. It is the same with the tomato plant.
But with the tomato plant, it is trace elements. It is those little tiny bits of food you may have heard of that are available in the soil. Things like potassium, manganese, boron, calcium, sulfur, iron, and all that little bits of food.
You can go to the garden center and you can buy a very good multi-tonic for tomato plants. But really, you are wasting your money because the best plant food of all that you can give as a supplement for tomatoes is vacuum cleaner fluff.
Now, when you are finished laughing—bear with me because there is a great reason why this works. What is in your vacuum cleaner fluff? Well, it is going to be your dead skin, first of all. There has got to be millions and millions of dead, decaying dust mites. No matter how clean inside you are, there is going to be animal hair if you keep pets. All those, when they break down, release all those nutrients into the soil in a form that tomato plants can take just when they want it.
Here is what you do. First of all, you use a spray of water to dampen that thing because it gets a little bit dusty, wearing gloves again, of course. Spray and really dampen that well, just to make sure you do not get clouds of dust in your face. And then just one handful—I have these tomatoes growing in the grow bags here—one handful around the base of the plant. Using a small fork, just mulch it in so it stays into the surface of the pot.
One handful per plant every week is all that is needed as a supplement to your normal tomato feed, and that is going to give those tomatoes those nutrients just when they want it. And the reaction that you are going to get from these plants is going to be—you are going to have thinner skins on the fruit. You are going to get a sweeter fruit. You are going to get more fruit per plant, and it really does work.
Over there, we have got some tomatoes that we fed normally but we have not given the vacuum cleaner fluff to, and you can see the difference.
But also, when you are growing in grow bags with tomatoes, you can increase the potential for better growth and more tomatoes by not just planting straight into the bag, but do what I have done. Use bottomless pots. They are great because you are increasing your available compost by a pot.
When you first plant the tomato, the roots are not in competition with the other plants. They can then grow for the first two or three weeks in this pot. Now when they are ready, their roots will penetrate into the grow bag. So you have increased the amount of compost they can use.
There are a lot of pests in the garden we try and control in all sorts of ways, but the one that defeats, as it seems, more than any other is the ant.
The ant is not really a buddy in the garden. It is not really a goodie. It is just one of those insects that you get really annoyed about, and this is everywhere. There is a way that you can kill the ants, but it means a two-pronged attack.
The problem with trying to kill the ants with ant powder is that it only kills the ants that are running around. But the one that you want to get, the one that is hidden away, that one that is protected by millions of work ants is the queen. If you can kill the queen ant, you solved your problem, because the colony disperses and then you can kill the workers that are running around.
So how can you kill the queen? Because the ants are not allowed to eat until they fed the queen, and the queen will not be fed anything that is poisonous. The ants know. They are going to check what they are feeding her.
So, you use the one thing that ants like more than anything else, and that is sugar. Ordinary sugar—ordinary pure sugar will attract an ant like nothing else. You have obviously seen that if you left jam bottle in place, the ants will find it. Their sense is quite disturbed by sugar. That is all they sense. But you are not going to put sugar down on its own. You are going to lace the sugar with the one thing that is deadly poisonous to ants, and that is ordinary, domestic borax.
Borax is a laundry aid, but this is going to clean up your problem with the ants, I can promise you.
What you do is simply mix one part of borax with one part of sugar. They do look amazingly similar. But it is not the look that the ants are going to be deceived by, it is the sugar.
Mix together, the sugar and the borax will soon stick together, and the ants will only the sugar. They will not notice it being laced with borax. And then, you simply sprinkle it.
I have a problem with ants by the shed door here, so I am going to sprinkle some down here. What is going to happen is the ants will detect the sugar. They will take the mixture back to the nest. They will feed the queen because the ant is going to get extra granny points by feeding the queen sugar. Little does he know that that sugar is laced with a deadly poison that will kill the queen.