- Planting Vegetables
What Is the Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes?
Whether you're growing tomatoes from seeds or if you've bought them as seedlings, you're going to need to make sure that they are well taken care of. Growing tomatoes isn't hard, but if it's your first time there are a few challenges that you're going to have to overcome. One of the many would be that of picking the right fertilizer for the plants.
The plants are going to grow really quickly, with a burst of growth during the initial stages (prior to flowering). As a rule of thumb, it's safe to assume that they are going to bear fruit within 4 months of being planted. Naturally, this varies with species, location and soil conditions.
To support the massive initial growth and the later development of the fruit, you're going to have to make sure there are sufficient nutrients in the soil. The plants aren't going to just grow in height and girth, but also grow plenty of branches and be top heavy. So don't forget to provide external support and follow the right watering techniques to ensure deep rooting.
Get the Right Mix of Fertilizer and Water
Consistent Addition of Fertilizers Is Necessary
As already explained above, tomato plants are heavy feeding plants. Therefore, you're going to want to make sure that the plant has sufficient nutrition throughout its growth. You cannot just have good soil at the time of planting the seeds and then forget about it. This could potentially lead to stunted growth or yellowing of the leaves and fruit.
For tomato plants to grow successfully and for their cells to function normally, they would need plenty of macronutrients such as Phosphates, Nitrogen, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium and Potassium in addition to a huge list of micronutrients.
Whatever happens do not be lazy and flood the container or garden with fertilizers thinking to yourself that the plant would use how much it needs and that the rest would stay in the soil for the future growth of the plant. Having a lot of fertilizer could literally burn the roots of the plant. Therefore, it is wise to add a bit at a time and to also ensure that the plants are well watered.
You've Got Two Options
I'm not going to be going into any specific kind of fertilizers such as Nitrogen, Phosphorous, etc. Instead, I'm going to help you determine what your plants need. The best thing to do is get your soil tested as this is the best way to know exactly which nutrients are missing. But, this is going to cost you both time and money and let's be honest; most of us do not want to do this.
This leaves us with the second option where we play it safe and only use compost which is naturally a mix of the important nutrients plants require to grow. It may not be in the perfect ratio required in your particular case, but it is still going to be good enough.
Inorganic Tomato Fertilizers
Are you not enthusiastic about organic gardening? Then this is the section for you. I personally prefer to use organic manure, but inorganics get the job done, too. The best use of inorganic fertilizers is seen once you've done a soil test as you would then know exactly which ratio of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium is required and it would also help you buy the right mix of fertlizer from your local store.
If you've not done a soil test you're going to have to go in blind. In that case, I would just add in a little of the fertilizer mix into the soil and see what happens. If you notice your plant growing slow you may need to add a little more nitrogen, since nitrogen is a part of every protein and hence a vital nutrient for growth.
Phosphorous, on the other hand, is important for root growth and flowering. It is important to know that phosphrous, unlike nitrogen, moves around in the soil quite slowly and therefore you're going to want to mix it into the soil so that it's well within reach of the roots.
Potassium regulates metabolism and helps in the transport of water and growth of roots. It mixes into the soil a lot easier than phosphorous.
Organic Tomato Fertilizers
Commercial fertilizers usually enrich the soil with just nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. However, the right fertilizer for tomato plants will have to add even the many micronutrients that are needed for the proper growth of tomato plants.
Therefore, adding inorganic fertilizers could be an option; but, not entirely the way to go. That’s the reason many gardeners create their own compost using all sorts of compost material right from dried leaves, to fruit waste and also animal dung. Using compost that comprises of all these materials will surely be more than enough to ensure that your tomato plants get the right fertilizers. If you're looking to buy compost, I'd suggest this which is basically composted chicken poop. You could either soak it in water and use the water on your plants or directly mix it into the soil. Personally, I'd mix it into the soil to get the most out of it, but there are other gardeners who choose to go the other way. OMRI-Listed Organic Compost Fertilizer
Another great way to ensure that your soil has all the right ingredients for a successful tomato season would be to implement crop rotation. Grow legumes if possible as they help enrich the nitrogen content of the soil. Crop rotation also helps prevent the growth of soil-borne diseases.