The secret to growing Big Tomatoes!

Louisville, KY

Since all of us are interested in growing Big tasty tomatoes, I thought some of you would get a chuckle out of this famous garderner's use of his secret fertilizer. Enjoy!

A Tomato Blether

Tomato growing is an occupation fraught with conversational danger. Just inadvertently mention your under-sized spindly tomato plants to a tomato enthusiast (and there's thousands of tomato enthusiasts out there) and you could be stuck for hours listening politely to every conceivable way of nurturing these smelly plants. And such strange names too: Big Boy, Supersonic, Tiny Tim, Outdoor Girl, Money-maker - the list goes on and on.

Apparently Bull's Dung is an excellent medium for growing tomatoes. Something to do with the testosterone content. It brings on the 'Toms' a treat. Good grief, what a thought, but undoubtedly an excellent conversation stopper should you ever need one. And then there's the tomato-ripening properties of the humble banana. Bananas give off a barely detectable gas, you see, very subtle and undetectable to the human nose, a gas that aids tomato ripening. Put the green ones in the kitchen drawer, on newspaper, and add a banana. That should do the trick. So there you are, another conversation stopper.

Now let me tell you this. I could win prizes for my tomatoes if I wanted to. How? Because I know how to grow the best tomatoes in Scotland, juicy, red and tasty, and probably the best in the country. But I don't grow the best in the country. Why not? Well read on, for here comes the ultimate 'conversation stopper' as far as tomatoes go.

Many years ago my grand-parents employed the services of a part-time gardener to help out in the garden. A man called Tom. He was very good at his job and particularly renowned throughout the district for his tomatoes. A tomato grower par excellence. Champion tomatoes they were. Tomatoes with exceedingly good flavour. But strangely enough the plants themselves were quite spindly, quite poor-looking, and not really the sort of specimens you would expect to bear good fruit, though the end product was truly magnificent.

Whenever there was a family gathering Tom's tomatoes were always on the menu, always discussed. "Tasty Tomatoes, these ....lovely flavour....prize winning fruits....splendid texture....wonderful colour..." and so on. And that's the reason why we called him 'Tom' when his real name was actually John.

Just recently, and from a very reliable source, I discovered that Tom had a secret ingredient for growing his tomatoes and, to be perfectly frank, it put me off tomatoes for life. Urine. His special ingredient was urine.

The house had a septic tank, you see, emptied once a year, and Tom held on to the top layer to use as a liquid feed for his tomato plants. He may even have given them a personal sprinkling himself on the odd occasion too. So I could grow the best tomatoes in the country if I wanted to. I really could. No doubt about that. And win prizes for them too. But I don't fancy the idea, not now. Do you?

Shenandoah Valley, VA(Zone 6b)


My own dorky father once tried to grow tomatoes with dog poop fertilizer. They were anemic and sad tomatoes (can you blame them?) and no one in the family would touch them.

Except the dog.

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

Actually, Used properly dog manure works wonder, And note that Asian farners used nightsoil for years. (collected and dried human manure) Concept and disease control keeps it from being used in the west. But it is quite "organic"

Queen Creek, AZ(Zone 9a)

My mother would take a metal barrel, put about a foot of chicken manure in the bottom of it, fill it the rest of the way up with water, put the lid on it, let it steep for weeks, then use that water for her tomatoes along with regular water. She would bury all the house green mater around them too. Egg shells, coffee grounds, salad stuff, peelings. No meat stuff though! She worked it in real good too, didn't leave any sitting on top. I think when I start my next vegie garden I'm going to try her ways. We had the best beefsteak tomatoes in the whole neighborhood. You could use one slice per sandwich, thats how big they were. Our hamburgers didn't fall apart on us either. Oh, I don't think I'd want to eat tomatoes grown with urine either. Thats just ewwwwww! :)

Cypress, TX(Zone 9a)

Just by a fertilizer call Tomato Food made by Schultz.

Queen Creek, AZ(Zone 9a)

I've used Miracle Gro Tomato Food. I got good results using that. Comparatively speaking, have you tried the above or compared it to Schultz? I've seen that brand but have never tried it.

Shenandoah Valley, VA(Zone 6b)

Judy, I got chickens more for their manure than for the eggs. It's easy to get local organic eggs around here, but no one will part with that henhouse litter! I'm all over that manure tea recipe...

Farmerdill, we're talking fresh dog poop... hot off the dog. I guess fresh anything would burn plants, but this was especially hard on the nose (did he have to plant right by the kitchen?). But I agree that any manure, composted properly, can give big benefits. (But I suspect I'll always be squeamish about dog and human manure used on food crops.)

Queen Creek, AZ(Zone 9a)

I need to get more chickens!

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

"hot off the dog" -- OMG, Zeppy! I'm glad I just put my coffee cup down!

Can't have chickens here, but maybe I can talk somebody at the farmer's market into bringing me a couple of scoops to use for that manure tea..... I'm assuming that should be aged chicken manure, not hot off the hen, right?

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

Right, fresh chicken manure is much hotter than fresh dog manure. Also has too high a nitrogen content (It is the original urea) for tomatoes in most circumstances.

Queen Creek, AZ(Zone 9a)

My mother also always watered her tomatoes with her tea in the cool evenings. You don't ever want to put fresh chicken manure around your plants. Way too hot. Horse manure, which I have plenty of, when dry, will grow the best tomatoes without even having soil in the mix. I tossed a half eaten tomato on my manure pile once, and a couple weeks later I had seedlings. I let them grow and grow and grow. lol I got some pretty respectable tomatoes off that pile. I use the manure that has wood shavings in it for my mulch.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

My favorite food guy on radio always said, "You are what you eat eats" so the thought of all of these manures and urines do not thrill me. We add nine wheelbarrels of our own compost to the tomato garden every year and I have no uneasiness about eating the wonderful tomatoes.

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

ahh a question for the city gal here...doesn't he poo stink?

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

I can handle cow manure, even chicken manure, but the thought of my own chit or urine is plum nasty. Imagine that.
But now if a cow could grow veggies---do you think it would use its own waste. Probly not.
Just a dooky thing.

Audubon, PA(Zone 6b)

cricket.... cute reply & funny!!!! .... LOL........

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

I'm with cricket...just don't think it could happen...and I'd have to wear REAL long and thick gloves to put it in the soil.

Waaaay Down South, GA

Y'all are toooo funny!

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

OK, when my boys are outside, I have them trained to go pee in the garden instead of the house. Keeps them from tracking in dirt, leaving the door open, etc. And it is supposed to help keep bunnies away, but that isn't working yet. Fortunately, they are well trained children, and pee in the mulched walkways, not on the plants! And my children are on a very good diet LOL...

I read somewhere about how people used to get their tomato seedling from a sewage plant somewhere. That *really* gave me the creeps.

Audubon, PA(Zone 6b)

As far as human urine is concerned, it's sterile as long as there's no disease present.

Louisville, KY

Tamara, I love the fact that you have the boys "watering" the garden path. What wonderful memories they will have! lol They may even grow up to be gardeners and consider this as one of mama's methods of raising big tasty tomatoes. May you have fewer bunnies and bushels of great tasting tomatoes!

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

LOL ahh Tam when you send the kids I'm going to have to find let em come inside to tinkle.

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

Saint, if you can catch them before they whoop it out, good luck!

Larry, Yes, i was thinking sewage would not be sterile. And my boys are healthy as a bees knees.

Gary, thank you :-) Fewer bunnies is always a good thing...

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

lol...Can see it now that I finally have my big boy trained the little ones are going to undo all my hard work. *G*

Little boys are so much more fun I think that girls (can you tell we didn't have lots of boys in my family) I have a few boys from my old neighborhood that call and I go pick up so they can come over (to do what I have no idea) but they are funny as heck. The things that they can have fun with just amaze me. Take for instance the scale, I had it on my kitchen floor and they thought it was the neatest thing to weigh themselves a million times. And the hours they could spend playing with the foodsaver are endless! We have a tennis court that we pay for with our HOA fee's that I've promised to get old equipment so they can go play (pretty sure this is going to be chasing the other around the court with them)

It would be a neat thing though if they wanted to come over and do fall planting with me and I could buy them pots etc to do something they could take home. Humm what is the easiest thing to grow? Something they might even eat.

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

As a retired Microbiologist who specialized in human infectious disease and taught med students for many years this has been a tough thread for me to read. LOL

The secret to growing BIG tomatoes is to chose a variety that has the genetic capacity to grow BIG fruits.

All else is seconday. ( smile)


Louisville, KY

Carolyn, this started out as a tongue 'n cheek make you chuckle attempt. It has taken a different direction. lol It is entertaining to say the least!
As an aside note, before my retirement as a Director of Facilities in residential treatment facilities, I was responsible for many areas as well as a certified Food Service manager and Waste Water Treatment Plant Operator. (WWTP = sewage) With clorination of the effluent water flow, the purity of the water was drinkable.
Effluent guidelines are national standards for wastewater discharges to surface waters and publicly owned treatment works (municipal sewage treatment plants). We followed effluent guidelines for categories of existing sources and new sources under Title III of the Clean Water Act. The standards are technology-based (i.e. they are based on the performance of treatment and control technologies); they are not based on risk or impacts upon receiving waters.

Queen Creek, AZ(Zone 9a)

I was taught early on that you can sterilize manures by putting plastic over it and letting the sun bake it. I've been using horse manure for years and I haven't had any problems because of it. Now I'm going to start wondering. lol Maybe that nagging whinny I do now and then is a by product of manure use. lol Years ago, I talked to an old farmer. He told me the best way to judge a useable manure was to determine if said manure came from a meat eater or a plant eater. Anything from a meat eat is taboo, but plant eaters is ok. Makes sense to me. I'm still going to try that deal my mom did. She used her household leftovers for mulch. Like lettuce, peelings, egg shells, stuff like that. No meat, or things of that nature, like say lasagna, meatloaf. Only vegetable waste. She had the best tomatoes on the block. She learned that from my old neighbor. Mrs. Large's Dahlias were huge!! She had a huge avocado tree that had the biggest avocados I had ever seen. This was when I lived in Cali. Our fig trees were insane with figs. I hated figs. She buried all kinds of stuff around them or by them. Ok, now I'm wanting to make my yard like that. Mom's yard was a garden paradise. I'm rambling again. lol

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

lol..well a whinny isn't so bad...but if you get colic your on your own!

I'm not ever letting Gary and my DH together (DH is an env engineer who specialty is waste water) and since he's not using that now in the P&P he's employeed if he ever finds someone who knows what he's talkin about he has a ball. All the while my eyes glass over and I start to drool at the mouth.

Queen Creek, AZ(Zone 9a)

lol...baaaaad colic, baaaaaad. Stay away from me AND my horses. lol

Here in Arizona we have water reclamation. The water that has been treated from the sewage plants are used to water the trees, bushes, etc. along the city streets and highways. I think thats a good use of water that comes from a sewage treatment plant. We can also use our grey water from our homes to water non edible plants. I'm thinking of doing that soon. Good use of shower and washer water.

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

We have a gray water line in our house, that waters our back pasture, mostly yucca and mesquite. I hope to one day establish a large man-made pond back there, and make it a wildlife haven.

If you colic, DON"T ROLL OVER :-)

Carolyn, your insight is always appreciated!

Yes, my boys have fun doing the simpl.est things. One day I will be rich for sellin gall their un-needed toys on ebay LOL

Queen Creek, AZ(Zone 9a)

Soon we'll be fixing it to where all our grey water will water our landscape. I have Cottonwoods and they need lots of water. The place we lived in before this place had a grey water line. Those Cottonwoods were beautiful. What a way to recycle your own water. We haul our own so it would really save us from having to haul so much.

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

That is soooo cool...

Central, AL(Zone 8a)

How about this one fertilized with composted horse manure (at planting)and fish fertilizer, during the growing season?
I had quite a few about like this with one about 3.5 pounds...

(I agree; *don't* use "manure" from carnivores! And horse manure has to be composted.)

Thumbnail by passiflora_pink
Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

lol shhhh Pass just tell em it's that good Bama soil! Indian Springs is on 65 isn't it? Going up towards B-ham?

Audubon, PA(Zone 6b)

Passiflora,,,, what was the variety of the gigantic 'mater shown in your picture?

Hampstead, NC(Zone 8a)

Now I am going to gross you ALL out:

What was the most sterile liquid on the battlefield more than 200 years ago? ...and used for washing out wounds?


Moon Twp, PA(Zone 6a)

brandy but they drank it all, so they had to use urine?

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

Passiflora, nice mater friend.
One of y'all told me (was it Flip or Ed?) that I should go get a bunch of sheep dung from my parent's ranch and compost it in my backyard. My sister says that you can get a composting contraption so that it won't smell. I'd still have to get a sign off from my neighbors and the HOA if I got one. Does anyone know where you get a composting thingie? Or make my own?
Thanks, Michelle

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

I think you can buy composted poo poo at HD. Is that as good?

Inverness, FL(Zone 9a)

Michelle - Super Duper Pooper Scooper and Smeller Mellerer - pg 48 in the Sears catalog. ROFL

Check out the "Soil & Composting" Forum here at Dave's. Composting "equipment" can be anything from just a spot on the ground where you pile your compost "stuff", up to fancy plastic "compost bins" where you turn a crank to mix eveything up. They look like little cement mixer thingees.

Eagle, ID(Zone 6b)

As the proud owner of a septic tank, I would like to let you know (if you didn't already) that the top layer that Tom used from the septic tank, wasn't just urine. When you flush, it all goes down folks. Doo doo and all. Gets all pureed up down there and so...what was on top was a compost of sorts!
Can't go there either though. I will use the idea of the chicken tea compost though.
I always have the DH and kids keep whatever fish they catch and bring them home. What we don't eat, I make a fish emulsion of sorts. Throw the fish into a five gallon bucket add water, cover (definetely cover!) and let sit until you need it. Even a weak solution is better than plain ol water. Then I add more water ect... until the fish are gone. Stinky and if you have neighbors it might not be the best idea. When I took the top off my bucket after it had sat for 6 months I thought the smell would never stop. The neighbors were not happy at all with me, but when they saw the size of my plants and tomatoes they were jealous.

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