Whether you want to slice your tomatoes for a tasty hamburger or actually want to bite directly into one, there’s no denying that the bigger and juicier, the better. When growing your tomatoes, be sure to add fertilizer at the right times of the year to get the best results.
When to fertilize tomatoes: Your tomatoes will need a lot of nutrients but as long as you are prepared for this, it is easy to accomplish. Start by preparing your soil with an organic fertilizer such as manure. Then, when you go to transplant your seedlings, add inorganic fertilizer in the form of a powder to the hole. Add a layer of dirt and then add your plants to protect them from the concentrated chemicals. After planting, add more fertilizer when your tomato fruits start to grow. Finally, add more organic fertilizer to the ground once your growing season is over in order to prepare the soil for new crops.
Benefits of Fertilizing Tomatoes
Improves the soil
If you are a seasoned gardener, you know that you can make use of one plot of land, all year long. So, even if you are growing crops like tomatoes, which only grow in the summer, you can actually then grow other cold-hardy crops the rest of the year.
However, to do this you want to have soil that is nutrient-dense the entire year. To achieve this, fertilizer is needed.
While you can use an inorganic fertilizer while your tomatoes are growing, before and after you plant them you should use organic fertilizer, such as compost, manure, or bone meal. Dig up your garden in the spring and fall and add organic matter to help create a whole area of rich soil.
When a plant has all the nutrients it needs, it can release energy into its fruit. A tomato plant that has all its needs met will create larger, juicier, and more flavorful tomatoes.
How do you fertilize tomatoes?
Although all plants need some form of fertilizer, none are perhaps as voracious as tomatoes. These plants require a lot of food to thrive, so fertilizing them is not negotiable.
Some gardeners will even exclusively grow tomatoes in containers and then get rid of the potting soil afterward as there will be very few nutrients leftover in the soil after the growing season. While you don’t need to be as dramatic as this, there are important steps to take when fertilizing your tomatoes.
If you start your tomatoes inside, then even when they are just emerging from their seeds, you can start them off with a small amount of fertilizer. You should also make sure the soil they are in has plenty of nutrients, to begin with.
When you transplant your tomatoes outside, you will want to properly prepare the soil. This is where using organic matter comes into play as you can dig up the soil and make sure there are nice layers of fertilizer.
When you dig a hole for your tomatoes, fill the bottom with a bit of fertilizer. This can be an organic substance like blood or bone meal, or it can be an inorganic powder fertilizer.
Just remember to add a layer of dirt over the raw fertilizer. This helps spread out the nutrients while also providing a protective layer so that the roots don’t come into contact with the fertilizer, which can lead to them burning.
You then want to add more fertilizer to your tomatoes as they start growing. Aim to do this just as the tomato fruits start to develop. For this stage, it’s best to go with an inorganic, powder fertilizer.
Powder fertilizers have a specific ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which your tomato plant needs. They are also fast-acting so the plant’s roots can quickly absorb the nutrients.
Always give your tomato plants a very good watering after you add fertilizer to the soil above the roots. This will help dilute the fertilizer so it doesn’t burn the plant and also helps it penetrate deeper into the soil.
Finally, once your tomato plant has finished giving fruit, you want to add more organic fertilizer to your garden. This will replenish the soil and get it ready for the next growing period. This step is especially important if you want to use the same area for fall or winter crops.
How often should I fertilize tomatoes?
The most important rule when fertilizing tomatoes is to start as early as possible. Remember that these plants need a lot of food so feed them even when they are just tiny seedlings.
You will need to fertilize your tomato plants a few times during the growing season.
- As seedlings
- When you transplant into your garden
- As the fruit starts to develop
Signs of over-fertilizing tomatoes
Sign 1 – Bushy foliage
The goal of fertilizer is to create larger fruit, not larger leaves. If you use too much fertilizer, the plant may take over and while you will have a full-looking plant, the tomatoes themselves may be very small
Sign 2 – Yellow stems
Too much fertilizer can actually burn your plants. You should take special caution that powder fertilizer never comes directly into contact with the plant as this may immediately burn the stems or leaves.
Sign 3 – Yellow leaves
During the growing season, your tomato leaves should be nice and green. If they take on a yellow color, it means too much fertilizer. To combat this, give your plant a good watering to try to dilute the fertilizer from the soil.
When is it too late to fertilize tomatoes?
By the time your tomatoes start to bear fruit, you should have already fertilized them several times. Once your tomato plant has large fruit, it is too late for the plant to store the necessary nutrients.
Tomatoes are a great starter plant as they are fairly easy to grow. However, if you want truly luscious tomatoes, then you will want to regularly fertilize them.