Nobody starts gardening with the intention of producing “acceptable” grade vegetables. This is particularly true for farmers of tomatoes. It’s only reasonable to want your hard work and commitment to pay off in the form of large, gorgeous, prize-worthy specimens that you can brag about on social media, causing other growers to feel envious.
There’s nothing wrong with being competitive, especially when it comes to growing tasty and nutritious vegetables. Before you dig your first spadeful of soil, though, there are a few things you should know.
Reader Poll: What online courses would interest you?
Growing Tomatoes at Home
Tomatoes are a wonderful and adaptable choice for those who enjoy growing their own vegetables and fruit, and they can flourish in both large gardens and little balconies. Despite their popularity, tomatoes may be difficult to cultivate since they are heavy feeders that require consistent nourishment and fertilizer in order to produce properly.
Growing tomatoes isn’t as straightforward as sowing a seed or watering and feeding a plant and praying for the best. It makes all the difference knowing what sort of fertilizer to use and when and how to fertilize tomatoes.
Fertilizing Your Tomato Plants
Tomatoes are voracious feeders that occasionally require a boost. Whether you use a store-bought organic tomato fertilizer or make your own at home, fertilizing tomatoes can assist give the nutrients these plants require. If your soil is low in key nutrients, adding the appropriate tomato plant food might make all the difference in the growth of your plants.
Subscribe to our newsletter!
This article will teach you how to choose a fertilizer best for your tomato plant, as well as the time you need to fertilize, how to fertilize, and other helpful ideas to help you get the most out of your efforts!
When to Fertilize Your Tomato Plant?
The stage of growth of your tomato plant will influence how you should fertilize it. Tomato seeds do not require fertilizer to germinate, so your tomato seedlings should sprout as long as you have nutritious, balanced soil to begin with. You may lightly fertilize the soil surrounding the tomato plant after it begins to set fruit every 10 to 14 days once it has started to set fruit.
Different Types of Tomato Fertilizers
Liquid, granular, and water-soluble tomato fertilizers are the three most common types. Organic and inorganic fertilizer alternatives are available in each type. User convenience, weather conditions, plant health, and other factors can all influence which sort of tomato fertilizer to use.
● Granular Fertilizer
Granular fertilizer is simple to use, keeps for a long period in dry, cold conditions, and requires no preparation time. Granular fertilizer is commonly applied by either working it into the soil before planting or by distributing it throughout the root zone of established plants by gardeners. Both quick-release and slow formulations are available for these fertilizers.
The slow-release composition will gradually break down to produce a consistent, long-lasting feed that will last the whole growing season. These fertilizers are manufactured using inorganic components that move through the soil by being dissolved in water in the quick-release formula.
● Water-Soluble Fertilizer
Water-soluble fertilizer combines the fast-acting properties of liquid fertilizer with the storage simplicity of granular fertilizer. This implies that once the nutrients are given to your plants, they are immediately available. Water-soluble is present in both inorganic and organic forms, much like the other kinds.
Water-soluble fertilizer is also available in powdered or micro granule form. These substances are easily dissolved in water. Many gardeners apply water-soluble fertilizer in the same way that they would liquid fertilizer.
● Liquid Fertilizer
Because liquid fertilizer is concentrated, it must be diluted with water before use. Gardeners can apply weaker solutions straight to the plant leaves in addition to the traditional application method of spreading liquid fertilizer around the base of the plant.
Liquid fertilizer may be applied in a variety of methods; from a calibrated hose sprayer to a watering can that mixes the liquid fertilizer as the water is dispensed. Liquid fertilizer provides a rapid boost of nutrients to your plant.
Examples of Organic Tomato Fertilizer
Tomatoes that are naturally fertilized are not a new concept in the world of gardening. Organic gardening methods, on the other hand, are an excellent and natural way to fertilize tomatoes, as our grandmothers did them. To increase your tomato output, use any of the aforementioned natural fertilizer choices.
Depending on the nutrients for the plant available in the soil, tomatoes may require organic fertilizer at different phases of their growth.
A high-quality compost will yield rich, pure organic matter that is abundant in critical nutrients and microorganisms. It contains all of the essential elements, including macronutrients and micronutrients, that synthetic fertilizers typically lack. It gradually releases the nutrients, resulting in long-term nourishment.
Over transplanting, put a generous quantity in the bottom of each hole, then side-dress each tomato numerous times during the growing season. You can make a compost tea using some humic acid and use it on a regular basis during the growing season.
● Cottonseed Meal
Cottonseed meal is an excellent natural fertilizer to use when transplanting seedlings as an organic soil supplement. It has a 6-2-1 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
The high quantity of nitrogen promotes leaf growth in the early stages of plant development; it is slowly released and lasts for nearly four months. Pesticide residues may be present in some cottonseed meals, which are prohibited.
● Animal Manure
Animal dung, often known as cow manure, is a common tomato fertilizer, but there are a few things to bear in mind before using it. Do not use cat or dog dung since it is very poisonous, hazardous to people, and full of diseases. Use only vegetarian animals’ dung, such as cattle and horses. When you’re ready to sow your tomato seedlings, use manure.
● Fish Emulsion
This is a natural tomato fertilizer that offers them a boost during the growing season and during transplanting. It’s a water-soluble concentrated liquid fertilizer prepared by combining various fish components, including bones.
It’s high in phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium, as well as sulfur, magnesium, calcium, and other vital minerals.
If you live near the seaside, consider feeding seaweed to your tomato plants; it may be poor in NPK, but it contains more than 60 trace elements that are essential for fruit production. Liquid seaweed fertilizers, such as kelp meal, are also available on the market.
● Epsom Salt
Tomatoes require a lot of magnesium to develop, and Epsom salt can help them get the magnesium they need. Stronger plants, increased blossoms, deeper green color, more fruit output, and tastier, sweeter tomatoes are all expected.
Make Your Homemade Tomato Fertilizer
When preparing your own tomato fertilizer, you may use a combination of a mixed horse or chicken manure, compost, and wood ashes such as shredded leaves and grass clippings, according to various formulas. She recommends putting the mixture in a five-gallon bucket and placing it around the plant’s base.
You may also add bone meal to your DIY fertilizer, which is a blend of finely and coarsely powdered animal bones. The phosphorus-rich component will improve the nutritional content of your fertilizer.
Properties of Tomato Plant Fertilizer
Tomato plants require three primary nutrients from fertilizer: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as a few trace minerals. Most fertilizers are made up of a mixture of the three elements, with the percentages of each indicated on the box.
- If the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratios are equal, the fertilizer may be labeled 10-10-10. However, if more nitrogen is present, it may be labeled 15-10-10.
- Test your soil before applying fertilizer. This will tell you how much of each element is in your soil. Knowing which nutrients your soil requires more or less can help you figure out what number series to look for when buying plant food.
- Choose a fertilizer with greater phosphorus and lower nitrogen ratio, such as a 5-10-5 ratio, if your soil is well-balanced or somewhat richer in nitrogen. If your soil is deficient in nitrogen, apply a more balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10. However, keep an eye on your nitrogen levels, since too much nitrogen might prevent fruit from forming.
Things to Consider While Buying Tomato Fertilizer
Every garden will be one-of-a-kind. Soil structure, natural fertility, pH, drainage, and a variety of other elements will always differ. This is why it’s beneficial to have a variety of fertilizer alternatives available to satisfy the demands of the plants at various stages of growth. Consider the following factors before you buy a good fertilizer for your tomato crop.
● Soil Condition
A thorough soil study will reveal your soil’s present levels of minerals and nutrients. Purchasing a DIY soil testing kit is a quicker approach to testing your soil.
Keep in mind that they aren’t always the most accurate tests. In a perfect scenario, you would spend for state testing your soil the first year, then purchase a couple of DIY tests and compare the findings to the state test to discover which kit is the most accurate. Then you may utilize the DIY kit that works best the next year.
● Chemical Fertilizer Content
The NPK ratio refers to the proportion of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen, in fertilizer. The major ingredient that aids in the growth of foliage is nitrogen. Phosphorous aids in the development and production of flowers, roots, and fruits. Potassium helps plants grow strong stems and improves their overall health.
Fertilizers can contain micronutrients in addition to main nutrients, however, this is no longer the case. Micronutrients are frequently stated on the fertilizer box in a less prominent location. They frequently play a little but crucial part in several plant processes. Magnesium, manganese, calcium, sulfur, boron, copper, and zinc, for example, are all beneficial to tomatoes.
How to Apply Tomato Fertilizer?
During each development cycle, tomatoes require varying ratios of these nutrients. If you’re new to gardening, correctly fertilizing tomatoes might seem difficult.
Your tomato plants will provide a fantastic yield year after year, however, if you follow the instructions. There is no one-size-fits-all tomato fertilizer that will work in all gardens around the year. Let’s look at some statistics and fertilizer alternatives to assist you to choose the best one for your plant’s stage of development.
The amount of fertilizer required by tomato plants is determined by their stage of development. Every nutrient must be available at all times; however, the recommended nutritional ratio changes with each stage of growth.
When to Stop Fertilizing Your Tomato Plant?
While fertilizer is beneficial to tomato plants, you should avoid fertilizing too late in the growing season. In other words, you should stop fertilizing your plant once it starts to set a significant number of fruits and it’s about time to harvest.
- What is the best fertilizer to use for your tomatoes?
Some gardeners choose to apply a high-phosphorus fertilizer to their tomato plants. You may keep things simple by using a tomato-specific fertilizer, which normally has a ratio of 3-4-6 or 4-7-10. Most essential, don’t fertilize excessively. It is always preferable to use too little fertilizer than too much.
- What happens if you over-fertilize your tomatoes?
Although tomatoes require fertilization to produce successfully, too much nitrogen might result in big plants bearing little or no fruit. Tomatoes should be treated before planting and 3 times during the season using a nitrogen fertilizer.
Fertilizer helps greatly and if you are considering growing tomatoes from seed don’t forget to check out my epic guide on growing tomatoes!
Fertilizing your tomatoes is critical to their success. To begin, you must first study your soil in order to determine which nutrients your plants require and which they do not. It’s also crucial to remember to be cautious and apply the proper amounts of fertilizer at the appropriate times, or your plant may suffer. If you cultivate your tomato fruits with care and patience, you can create an exceptional harvest that you’ll be delighted to show off.