Tomatoes are one of the most popular plants to grow in the garden, but they are not the easiest ones. Want to have nice, healthy, and juicy ripe tomatoes? Wonder how much fertilizer you should place on your soil to make it into healthy tilth? Knowing how often to fertilize tomatoes will surely help you achieve those. If it is your first time to delve into growing tomatoes or gardening, it is important to know the types of fertilizers, how much, and how many times of it you should place.
It does not matter to which garden spender segment you belong, knowing these matters is essential to growing any size of garden that will have foliage and fruits worthy of praise! Here are some things you need to learn about fertilizing tomatoes.
Types and Forms of Fertilizers
Cultivating our gardens is one way for us to feel one with nature. Sowing seeds, putting in mulch, and tending to our garden beds give us the happiness we usually do not get from our other daily routines. As a green thumb, it is essential to know the types and forms of fertilizers. How often should you fertilize tomatoes will also depend on what type and form of fertilizer you will use.
The best choices in growing your garden and your tomatoes are with the use of organic fertilizers. This type of fertilizer is usually made from organic, meaning that they derived from plants and animals, and natural materials. Organic fertilizers are made mainly from manure or compost. Markets that sell organic fertilizers have bags that print estimates on nutrient content, but organic fertilizers are usually immeasurable in that regard. Even though they work slowly over time, they surely can help compose healthy tilth for your tomatoes or any plant for that matter. What is great is you can make your organic fertilizer at home and help grow your garden!
Examples of organic fertilizers are:
- Kelp Meal, made from dried seaweed.
- Blood Meal, made from powdered cattle blood.
- Bone Meal, made from finely ground bone of cattle.
- Bat Guano, made from seabirds and bat excrements.
Inorganic fertilizers are made up of various chemicals synthetically manufactured for commercial use. They are also rich in nutrients that are specific for your garden needs, particularly in growing your tomatoes. These inorganic fertilizers are the best option if you are looking for a quick and short-term boost to your garden. However, take caution, inorganic fertilizers are prone to leaching that may negatively affect the chemical balance of your soil.
Examples of inorganic fertilizers are:
- Nitrogen Fertilizers, good for plant growth (either urea, ammonia, nitrate)
- Phosphate Fertilizers, good for plant stem and root system.
- Potassium Fertilizers, also good for plant root systems.
Fertilizer comes in various forms:
- Stakes or Spikes
Liquid fertilizers are the ones you dilute with water. You spread them the way you water your plants. Powdered fertilizers, the most common form, can either be dissolved in water or physically spread them with the use of your trowel on the soil or bed. Watering them ensures complete absorption. Granular fertilizers are the easiest to spread. They are the most concentrated in form and will dissolve over time as you water your garden. Stake or spike fertilizers are types of granular fertilizer.
Most organic fertilizers are powdered in form, while inorganic fertilizers are usually in liquid or granular forms.
How Often Should You Fertilize Tomatoes
Regardless of what type of fertilizer, whether organic or inorganic, you use in your pots or beds, one of the most important questions you must ask yourself as a gardener is: “How often should you fertilize tomatoes?”
The answer to that, of course, is to fertilize your tomatoes every 2 to 3 weeks during the growing period. Either you can make tea with your organic fertilizers, preferably kelp meal or the powdered ones, and water your tomatoes or side-dressing them with stakes or granules. You can mark your calendar after placing any of those fertilizers. Just a reminder, too much of any fertilizer would surely kill your plants due to excess salt levels in your tilth, so it is highly important to take note of when you place your fertilizers.
How Much Fertilizer Do Tomatoes Need
Of course, besides knowing how often should you fertilize tomatoes, you should also know how much fertilizer your tomatoes need. Too much would lead to chlorosis, stunted growth, or worst, wilting. Tomatoes have a 14-week lifespan assumingly and have high fertility requirements.
These are the fertility requirements in growing your tomatoes:
Complete inorganic fertilizer: equal nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium components (150lb/acre)
The pH level of the soil is 6.2-6.8
Three months before sowing your tomato seeds, till your soil with limestone powder (1 ton/acre), the calcium in it will help lower the acidity level of your soil.
Apply all the phosphorus during pre-planting to establish a very good root system. The nitrogen and potassium fertilizers shall be spoon-fed weekly. Please see the table below:
LB/1000 SQ FT
LB/1000 SQ FT
lb/1000 sq ft
You can also take note that tomatoes prefer the nitrate component, which should be 50% more than the urea and ammonia components of your nitrogen fertilizers. Always balance the phosphate and potassium components. Know more about plant fertilizers.
Now you know how often you should fertilize tomatoes. What is left is for you to apply what you have learned to have those juicy and ripe red tomatoes in your fruit baskets. Keep in mind that there are various types and forms of fertilizers and their uses. You should always remember the fertility requirement of tomatoes to prevent wilting. When purchasing your fertilizers, make sure to check and assess the nutrient contents. With all those in mind, you are ready to grow your tomatoes!