Shannon’s Homemade Monster Tomato Fertilizer Recipe May 7, 2012

Add 1/4 cup of your fertilizer to the hole at time of planting.

My chickens are gifts that keep on giving. Nothing they create goes to waste. In my previous article about composting chicken poo, I mentioned how even chicken waste isn’t wasted, but put to use in my garden. Egg shells can go into the compost pile, too, and they make an excellent, enriching addition–mine sometimes do–but I also use them for an awesome homemade tomato fertilizer. As my husband says, “it creates monsters out of tomato plants“!

Shannon’s Homemade Monster Tomato Fertilizer recipe:

  • 2-3 dozen crush egg shells
  • 2 cups bone meal
  • 1/2 cup Epsom salts
  • 14 crushed aspirin (a natural rooting hormone!)

First, wash your egg shells with soap and water and let them dry completely on a window sill before adding them to the mixture.  (You can also bake them for a couple of hours at 100 degrees Fahrenheit if you don’t want to wait.) Make sure they are dry and brittle before using them.

Combine ingredients in a resealable container to keep dry while storing.  You’re going to need about 1/4 cup of the mix at the bottom of the new hole you’re putting your tomato plant in.  Tomatoes need to be buried deep, so plan on digging hole that will cover 2/3 of the plant.  This makes for a strong root system, and a productive plant.  Don’t forget to mulch your new plants as well.  This will help keep moisture in the ground longer, and since tomatoes are prone to several diseases that live in the soil, mulch helps keep the dirt from splashing up on the bottom of the plant’s leave.

Make sure you bury 2/3 of the new tomato plant for deeper rooting.

You can use the fertilizer throughout the growing season by side dressing your plant every 6 weeks. Just sprinkle a handful loosely at the base of the plant and water. Enjoy your monster plants this summer–and think about sharing some of your delicious tomatoes with the “girls” that helped them grow.

Don't forget to mulch your new plant for water retention.

58 Comments
Prajna Faux May 7th, 2012

Question: What is bone meal and where can I find it?

shannon May 7th, 2012

Bone meal is available at most gardening centers and in the gardening section of most hardware stores. Bone meal is actually the ground bone of animals. Bone meal provides phosphates to a plant. Phosphates are naturally hard to come by in most soils so adding it at the time of planting insures your plants roots are close enough to absorb it.

Bonnie May 7th, 2012

I save all my egg shells, put them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake them for about a half hour-45 minutes in a 250 degree oven then run them through the blender until ultra fine. I mix this with the chicken food for extra calcium for my chickies!! It sure helps prevent those soft shells. Yes, I love that I can recycle them like that!!

cindy bowman May 7th, 2012

can you use this on corn

LindaG May 7th, 2012

Thanks for this tip!

Michelle May 7th, 2012

I love this! Now to get started…. One question, why do you wash the eggshells if they are going into the dirt? Is it bc of the smell during the grinding process?

shannon May 9th, 2012

Hi Bonnie, the whites still clinging to the shell can harbor bacteria, as well as have a sticky texture after being dried. Washing and crushing gives for a texture and clear conscious I’m personally comfortable with. :)

Cindy, corn doesn’t require the high amount of calcium this provides. Corn also requires a higher amount of nitrogen. I do use my chicken poo compost for my corn though. I give my corn 3 feedings of the compost as it grows as well. You can learn more on composting your chicken poo here on my previous post:
http://blog.mypetchicken.com/2012/04/13/the-joy-of-chicken-poo/

Susie May 10th, 2012

I have used washed and dried crushed eggshells for years now around my plants to keep slugs and snails away, especially for my hostas. Soon I’ll be able to have help from my chicks, I am so looking forward to when they can go outside…

Jill May 14th, 2012

I love my home growen tomato :) thank you :)

Michele Kennedy May 14th, 2012

Love the tips on the fertilizer. Thank you for sharing. I do have a question. What do you use as mulch on your tomato plants? Here in the city I only find decorative mulch and I heard that is not good for veggie plots.

Karen Joy May 14th, 2012

I add egg shells to my compost, foliar feed with Epsom salts, and use bone meal as a regular soil additive… but I have never heard of using aspirin as a natural rooting hormone! And, I like the idea of adding extra “help” to the planting hole for transplants… Thanks for the tip!!

Amanda May 14th, 2012

By aspirin, you mean ASA but what strength? Regular (325mg) or baby (81mg)? Uncoated (I would presume)…don’t want to over- or under-dose my tomatoes :)

sherri burkett May 14th, 2012

Are you sure bone meal is healthy? I was thinking of using it for the nutritional benefits until someone told me it is made from animals that may have had cancer and other sicknesses, including mad cow. Is this absurd or not?

Rebecca May 14th, 2012

I have feed eggshells to my hens for years. I break them and just toss them out right away to them. Some people say that encourages them to eat eggs but never in over 30 years have I had egg eating hens. They seem to know the difference between a firm whole egg and broken pieces of shell. And the egg shells never last uneaten long enough to develop bacteria.

vicki May 15th, 2012

I made a dry recipe with epson salts and another ingredient(bone/corn meal??). I can’t remember the other ingredient or the measurements. Can you help me with this? Thank You

Maery Rose May 20th, 2012

Yeh! Another great use for eggshells. I already use them in my worm bin so they become compost there and also help the worm’s digestive system.

vicki lynne jordan May 31st, 2012

can u use the tomato fertilizer for peppers?

shannon June 1st, 2012

Hi Vicki, you can use this for peppers but I believe the calcium is much higher then the pepper plants require. It won’t hurt the plant, it just won’t absorb the extra.

Carole June 14th, 2012

Hi, I talked with a lady that had been gardening for many years and she used a handful of the cheapest dry dog food at the bottom of the hole when planting tomatoes, said they were 2 or more times as big as without. What in the dog food would cause this?

Evie June 16th, 2012

Question for Bonnie–

Has running egg shells thru the blender dulled the blender blades at all?

Jason July 8th, 2012

Rinse and microwave the shells in a paper cup for about 30 seconds. Works well and fast. Calcium also stops blossom end rot.
Since pets and neighborhood cats like bone meal, be sure to bury it. I use it under the 4-6″ of leaf mulch, kitchen scraps and newspaper I put on when putting the garden to bed for winter. I really like the idea of mixing the amendments together so all the good things go into the soil at once.

Laura September 30th, 2012

What kind of mulch do you use, bark, leaves, hay, or pine straw? I use leaves from my many oak trees, in my flower beds, because its free, but are leaves ok for my raised vegetable garden?

shannon October 1st, 2012

Hi Laura,
You sure can use leaves, they’re one of the best since they are free and they add to the nutrient content in your soil as they break down. I use whatever I have on hand at the time. Sometimes it wood mulch, sometimes it is straw. I even gather leaves in the fall to cover unused beds I don’t plan on planting again until Spring.

Cathy February 9th, 2013

What mg of aspirin do you use?

shannon February 10th, 2013

I’ve used the low dose 81 mg before, I couldn’t suggest the high dose aspirin.

Kenny March 27th, 2013

How much chicken manure do you use.

shannon March 28th, 2013

My chicken manure goes into the compost pile to age and not go directly into the garden at the time of planting. Fresh chicken manure can burn the delicate plants’ roots. Late winter, I add finished compost to all my garden beds, at least 4 weeks before I plan to start planting. This recipe is an added benefit for more vigor specifically designed for the tomatoes since they are prone to blossom end rot, tomato hornworm damage and cracking.

Ann May 9th, 2013

Have you ever used or heard of using ground cinnamon as a rooting hormone? Was considering using instead of aspirin, any thoughts?

shannon May 10th, 2013

Hi Ann,
Yes, cinnamon is a rooting hormone as well! I choose to use asprin since its created using the same hormone derived from willow bark. Someone once showed me how to collect new spring whips from a willow, scrape the bark and soak the scrapings to release the hormone. It turned out to be a lot of work, but that is a great option too.

Mike the Gardener May 24th, 2013

Nice recipe. It has a little bit everything you need for the tomato plants … have you ever considered adding in some fish emulsion?

shannon May 24th, 2013

Hey Mike, Yes! I have a little in a bottle I save to add to a lot of plants later on. (The corn loves it!) I just don’t want to add it to the mix in fear of the smell up front. I keep them mixed up under my sink to grab when I need it. I add the egg shells over the winter to the bucket under the sink. I couldn’t imagine what that would smell like sitting there for months. Yuck. I hope others see your comment and consider getting a bottle of the fish emulsion to add as well throughout the growing season. :)

Amy Osborn May 30th, 2013

Just bought some tomato plants-and this will be a perfect recipe to help them grow into Monsters-It just seems like my tomato plants could use this help. I am going to try it this weekend.

Bebe June 5th, 2013

Thanks for the recipe!! Will definitely try it. I mix Epsom salt in a sprayer also, have had great results with it boosting size of tomatoes and peppers we produce!

lynne June 8th, 2013

Thanks to all really gd info. I have grape tomato plants that reseeded themselves. There was a cluster, split them, now have 10 plants. Wish me luck!

BratMunchkin August 2nd, 2013

Your recipe sounds interesting.I am keen on trying it on my mortgage lifter tomatoes. but i do have some questions tho. i sowed those tomato seeds last March2013.Now they are around 7 Ft. tall,supported all 10 plants with stakes.I’ve treated the soil with chicken manure,fresh kitchen scraps (any & all fruits&veggies i can get at any time), epsom salts, fish emulsion (10ml/5 liters water). this compost i did at the same time i sowed the seeds on pots. after 6 weeks, i transplant the tomato plants into the treated soil. Plants had first blooms last June, its just a few blooms yet the blooms were big. But before the flowers bloom, they dry out and just fell off, one by one. This frustrates me. Last week, new blooms started to show and i wish not to be frustrated again. do you think your fertilizer recipe, i can mix it in a pail of 5 liters of water,10ml fish emulsion (this acts as substitute for bone meal-hard to get here in kuala lumpur), some fresh blended bananas and alfalfas. but i do not have idea on to how much chicken manure needed to add into 5 liters of water, highly appreciate your thoughts on this.

shannon August 2nd, 2013

Hi BratMunchkin, It sounds like your tomatoes may have too much nitrogen in the soil and its concentrated on producing green leaves rather then fruit. I wouldn’t add anymore fish emulsion and just crush up some dried chicken egg shells to increase the calcium only. That should help with blossoms. Good luck!

BratMunchkin August 3rd, 2013

Hi Shannon,
Thanks for replying, But what do you think is best to replace bone meal then? I’ve called up every single hardware, garden shop & supplier here in Kuala Lumpur but to no avail,I could’nt find not a single one.Thanks again.

shannon August 3rd, 2013

Since its Phospherus you’re looking to get, you can look into other things like: Rock Phosphate, Soybean meal, Worm Castings or maybe crab/shellfish ground shell. I’m told Bat Guano has it too, though that is pretty pricey here. Good luck!

BratMunchkin August 5th, 2013

Hi Shannon,
Just got your response right now, and still I didnt find any bone meal in town.What I found and bought was a bag of ESPOMA TRIPLE PHOSPHATE FERTILIZER. It says 0% Nitrogen, 45% Phosphate & 0% Potassium. do you think this is good enough?. I’ve cracked 3 dozens of eggs and now all out under the sun for drying. Epsom Salts are more than ready. Now, there’s another issue that I faced with, there’s no available 85mg of Aspirin that I can get here ( Malaysia sucks most of the time ). I bought 100mg’s coz thats the only thing available over the counter. I am not even sure coz the pharmacist asked me if its for BLOOD THINNING or FOR PAIN. yet they only have the one’s for blood thinning. I am thinking of reducing the aspirin tabs into 10 instead of 14 from your recipe. Once the eggshells are ready, I’m gonna follow your recipe and mix it with 2 liters of fresh blended banana. the banana peels i’ll burry them around the tomato plants and cover with a handful of soil. do you think this will work?.. I am really desperate to see the tomato flowers turns into red tomatoes!!.

shannon August 5th, 2013

I do believe this should work, the hormone in the aspirin will just strengthen the root system to support the fruit once it gets set on the plant. I’ve never tried the 100 mg, but I would do exactly that if it was all I could find when I need it. :)

Sue August 8th, 2013

I read with interest your concoction for monster tomatoes plants, but it’s all about tomatoes, not plants. What is your success with producing more than a great plant? I am interested in increasing my yield with every season! Thanks.

shannon August 9th, 2013

Hi Sue, Do make sure you choose a productive tomato type. Some tomato plants, such as Purple Cherokee can’t compete with the amount of tomatoes you can get from a ‘Park’s Whooper’. However, this mixture does increase blossom production which in turn can produce you more tomatoes when properly pollinated. Make sure you have plenty of pollinators in your garden. With the recent bee declines that could be a factor to a small yield. Happy gardening to you!

BratMunchkin August 12th, 2013

Hi Shannon,
Apologies for my late reply, we had a long holiday here recently. Anyway, I started to use your “monster fertilizer” on the 6th August, and just after 2 days, I saw some good changes tho. the leaves looked more healthier and saw much more bigger blooms as well. I was away from home from 9th-12th August. and i just got back early this morning, surprised!!!!…some blooms are now flowers…hahaha…tho I was dog tired from holiday trip, ( barely had 4 hours sleep and now at work!) the flowers made me smile.YOUR MONSTER FERTILIZER WORKED LIKE MAGIC!!!!..and the good thing about it is i used a little of the banana puree with monster fertilizer on Habanero seedlings & Jalapeno seedlings & Eggplant seedlings and Kale, Rocket Salads, Red Mustard, Broccoli, spinach, Thai & Red Basil, Marigolds that I have and they kindda like it tho.And let me share to you a thread that I found from the web about aspirin as fertlizer. the information is actually amazing!.
http://www.fivedockorchids.com/Aspirin%20and%20Growing%20Orchids.pdf

BratMunchkin August 21st, 2013

Hi Shannon,
The monster fertilizer is working just fine,tomato plants looks more healthier, there are more blooms this time, and blooms turns into flowers but that’s just it!!..I’ve tried electronic toothbrush as alternative pollination as i dont see any bees around. But flowers just turned dry and fell off!!..what do you think could possibly go wrong this time??

shannon August 22nd, 2013

Hi Brat,

I usually pollinate with a Q-tip, but in this case I don’t think pollination is the issue. I’m leaning towards too high nitrogen. Which is hard to remove from the soil. You also want to check your nighttime lows, cool temps add to this issue. Good luck!

Shannon

BratMunchkin August 23rd, 2013

Hi Shannon,

How to lessen the nitrogen from soil?..I’m getting crazy with those tomatoes really.

BratMunchkin August 23rd, 2013

Today I came home from work and saw all 15 flowers nicely sleeping on the soil…they’ve fallen off!!!..and now I can see some buds sprouting again..this is gonna be the 3rd cycle of not seeing any single tomato at all..just some dead..dried and fallen flowers..so frustrating and depressing that i feel like just cutting all tomato plants and sow again..perhaps mortgage lifter tomatoes isnt the right tomato variety that i could grow here in tropical malaysia!!!..there must be something wrong..not the cold temperature then, cameron highland which is thousands feet above sea level produces the best tomatoes,strawberries and teas here, temps can be no more high than 77′F and nightime can go be as low as 48′F..i wanna grow tomatoes so i can have fresh from the pick tomatoes of my own but looks like having them would cost my pocket a lot more before even 1 single tomato will appear..as to when..i got no idea!!

BratMunchkin August 24th, 2013

Hi Shannon,
I think I know now the “culprit” causing too high nitrogen, my very own fault. I’m raising kitchen scraps compost in the same raise bed where my tomatoes are!!. I figured this out today when I gave the compost a little dug & turn, has seen and wondered where the roots came from, pointed none but from tomatoes. The roots has grown about 3 feet more towards the compost. And so I dug up all out the compost soil and kept them in 5 separate buckets. Yes, some roots were cut tho as I dont have any choice. I hope that removing the compost pile and soil will help my tomatoes to produce more healthy buds..turns into flowers and finally so..tomatoes. Yet also I think high nitrogen and your monster fertilizer are sending my basils crazy!.They never stop from producing flowers a lot!. And how I wish my tomatoes will just like be the same way the basils does.

BratMunchkin September 1st, 2013

I just killed those useless tomato VINES..i’ve decided to do so because I dont see any positive results anymore..it’s just a waste of time and money. And now i’m treating the soil again..

shannon September 2nd, 2013

Hi Brat, I think your best option is to plant away from where your compost was in a new location next time. I’m sure that soil is extremely fertile now and my need something else planted there that can benefit better from the extra nitrogen. Try planting corn or leaf greens in that location this year, then try the tomatoes back there again after a season or two. Good luck!

Charles G Foster April 28th, 2014

We are on the same page with the chicken poo. I also cut water oak leaves and put this mix in about the first of Feb. Last year I put down black landscape to experiment with…I place the holes 3 feet apart…it also allow me to plant early…the plastic warms the soil. I went from 6 or 7 to the cluster to 10 to 12…the plastic made the difference…I also plant celebrity tomatoes they get from 8 to 12 feet…I have pictures of last year crop if anybody would like to see proof.

roy May 27th, 2014

think…willow trees grow very fast….so aspirin is likely to be a good root hormone
think…preventing diseases is a lot easier than fighting it later…like us….eating healthy grown food (hi brix) and little sunshine will keep us healthy…

Wallace McBride June 14th, 2014

Charles, I would love to see those pictures of your Celebrity Tomatoes.

Thanks, Wallace

Claude June 22nd, 2014

I used regular rooting powder instead of the asprin , I used about 1/2 teaspoon to the measurements of bone meal, epsom salt, egge shell’s , I have an old coffee grinder and i used it to grind my egge shell’s to a consistency of powder sugar. Wow!! what a surprise to my tomatoe plant’s , my neighbor said she had never seen tomatoe plants grow that big and strong. I also use it on some Hen and chick plants and they have grown as big as soft ball and now are blooming. Thanks for the info on this amazing fertilizer.

shannon June 22nd, 2014

I would love to see everyone’s photos of the plants that got the treatment. I’ve seen so much wonderful feedback. I wish there was a way everyone could post a photo in the replies. If anyone has a link to a photo on Instagram or other location, those can be shared right here in the comments section. Thank you!

Wallace McBride June 26th, 2014

Shannon, where is the source for nitrogen for the plants. I notice most fertilizers for tomatoes usually contain 5, 8, or 10 percent nitrogen. I am still going to try your recipe. Just curious about the nitrogen. Thanks.

shannon June 26th, 2014

Hi Wallace, As for Nitrogen I throw in fresh compost when putting in new plants each year. That supplies more then enough for leaf development on my tomatoes and peppers. This fertilizer is solely for fruit development of the tomatoes themselves. The good news is this creates very thick sturdy vines on the tomatoes but doesn’t add to leave development, which too high nitrogen content in tomatoes causes less flower development on the plant. I also water throughout the season with fish emulsion on most of my plants, my corn thrives off of that nicely. Definitely give this mix a try!

Wallace McBride June 26th, 2014

Shannon, I appreciate the information. I will try your recipe for sure. I will try and let you know how much sucess is achieved. Thanks again,

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