Tomatoes are strong feeders that need a lot of fertilizer to get through the season. The difficult aspect is determining which fertilizer to use, how much to use, and when to use it. Don’t worry; fertilizing tomatoes isn’t as difficult as it may seem.
Your tomatoes may not need fertilizer at all if you dig a generous amount of well-rotted manure into the top 8 to 12 inches (20-30 cm.) of soil at planting time. Manure is nutrient-dense but deficient in phosphorus, so balance things out by mixing in some bone meal with the waste.
A Word about Fertilizer Ratios
If your soil is poor or if you don’t want to bother with manure, you can use a good quality fertilizer. Take note of the three numbers on the packaging that show the nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium levels (K).
Some farmers prefer a high-phosphorus fertilizer, which is indicated by a higher middle number. You can also keep things simple with a fertilizer especially formulated for tomatoes – usually with a ratio like 3-4-6 or 4-7-10.
Most crucial, avoid over-fertilization. Too little fertilizer is always better than too much.
The Hows and Whens
Unless you amend the soil with manure at planting time, you’ll want to fertilize the plants to get them off to a good start. Dig the hole, then fill it with fertilizer in the quantity advised by the manufacturer. Cover the fertilizer with clean earth to protect it from coming into touch with the roots.
After that, fertilize your tomatoes every three to four weeks throughout the season.
To side-dress tomatoes, draw a shallow trench around the plant with the point of your hoe, at least 5 to 6 inches (12-15 cm) from the stem.
Sprinkle the fertilizer in the furrow at a rate of 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons (15-21 ml.) for each plant. Soil and mulch should be used to cover the fertilizer.
Be certain that no fertilizer gets on the leaves or stem. Water well immediately after feeding to carry the fertilizer evenly down to the roots.
A Note about Water-Soluble Fertilizer
You can also use a water-soluble fertilizer, which is often easier to apply, especially for tomatoes grown in containers. Just mix the fertilizer into the watering can at a rate of 1 tablespoon (15 ml) per gallon (4 L). During the season, apply every one to two weeks.
If you’re going to use it on the garden, combine around 2 tablespoons (30 mL) per gallon (4 L).
You should avoid using it in very hot or dry situations. Note that 4 L will cover approximately 4 square feet of your garden or the surface of ten 8’’ pots.
What is the best fertilizer for tomato plants?
Every 14 days, use a liquid fertilizer like as compost or worm casting tea. Fertilizing tomato plants with liquid helps in two distinct ways, absorbing nutrients through the plant’s roots, and the leaves. Organic fertilizer, compost tea, and worm casting tea are all excellent plant fertilizers.
How often should tomatoes be fertilized?
Tomatoes should be fertilized before planting in the garden. You may then fertilize them again once they have set fruit. After the tomato plants start growing fruit, add light fertilizer once every one to two weeks until the first frost kills the plant.
When should I feed tomato plants?
Feeding. To boost fruiting, especially with plants in containers, feed every 10–14 days with a high potassium liquid fertiliser once the first fruits start to swell.
What time of day should I fertilize my tomato plants?
Most fertilizers are best applied in the evening, when the sun is setting and after watering or raining. Chemical fertilizers can wash through without leaving much benefit in the soil if they are watered after application and they can “bake” in the sun and either lose potency or burn the plants as well.