Tomatoes are one of the most popular and most frequently grown plants in home vegetable gardens. There is nothing quite like the rich flavor and juicy goodness of homegrown tomatoes. Growing the finest and most plentiful tomato crops requires a combination of patience, sunshine, soil health, and nutrition. Actually, plant nutrition is one of the top suppliers of a tomato’s flavor profile and overall success, meaning it’s time to think about the best fertilizer for tomatoes!
Frequently, you might find yourself with lush tomato plant foliage with less than optimal amounts of the fruits that you crave. When growing tomato plants, nourishing your plants with fertilizer can make a huge difference in the crop’s health and productivity.
The best fertilizer for tomatoes supports optimal plant growth, fruit development, and disease resistance. A properly fed tomato plant will give you the best chance for a stellar crop of homegrown favorites.
Let’s explore the best fertilizer for tomatoes so you can improve the productivity, flavor, and nutrient levels of your tomatoes.
Tomato Plant Fertilizer & Soil
Tomatoes are annual plants and are heavy feeders of nutrients. They require more nourishment than other plants to grow large and lush. To grow and produce at peak performance, they may need a boost of additional nutrition that is not readily available to them from the soil. To get the most out of your tomato plants, we must give them what they crave by using fertilizer.
Fertilizer enriches the soil and helps make adequate nutrient levels available to the plants that need them. All soil, particularly compost, has a certain degree of nutrient content within it already. Take the guesswork out of what your soil needs by having your soil tested before exploring fertilizers. Visit your local extension office with a soil sample and determine what nutrients your soil needs to adequately support your plants’ needs.
Types of Fertilizer
Garden center shelves are full of all types of plant food. It can be overwhelming for gardeners to know where to start for tomato plant nutrition. The best fertilizer for tomatoes can come in three forms: liquid, granular, and water-soluble. Each type includes both inorganic and organic fertilizer choices.
- Granular fertilizer is composed of small pellets.
- It is relatively easy to apply using a shake and pour or sprinkle method.
- You can apply it by mixing it into your soil before planting or by spreading it on the soil surface around plants.
- They usually come in slow-release formulas that break down over an extended time period and immediate-release formulas which provide a quick feed.
- Liquid fertilizer is concentrated.
- It is applied to plants after being diluted with water.
- Liquid fertilizer makes the boost of nutrients immediately available to plants.
- It is administered to the plant via a watering session.
- Fertilizing must be repeated often to provide the plants with the nutrients it needs throughout the growing season.
- Water-soluble fertilizer is a mix between liquid fertilizer and granular fertilizer.
- It is easy to apply.
- Stores easily in a cool, dark place.
- Provides nutrient availability to the plant quickly.
The Difference Between Organic & Chemical Fertilizers
Fertilizers can be organic or chemical in composition. Chemical fertilizers tend to be heavy on macronutrients like Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. While organic fertilizers provide both micro and macronutrients and are made of certified natural and organic materials. Either one can give your tomatoes the extra nutrients they need to grow vigorously, but what is the best fertilizer for tomatoes?
Organic fertilizer options are by far the best fertilizer for tomato plants. They are derived from certified organic ingredients and will not harm the environment, contaminate the water supply, and are less likely to damage plants or negatively impact the food you grow. These formulations have smaller Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium concentrations and provide more beneficial micronutrients than their chemical counterparts.
Organic fertilizers have beneficial microbes and mycorrhizae, which aid in root development. The beneficial microbes take in the nutrition from the fertilizer and release the essential nutrients into the soil, making them readily available to plant root systems.
The Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes
To grow at their best, tomato plants require macronutrients like (N-P-K), but they also thrive best when they have an adequate supply of micronutrients and beneficial microbes in the soil. They also need to be nourished throughout the growing season, so a slow-release variety is optimal for ease of use. You can also use other types of fertilizer as long as you reapply every two weeks.
Look for tomato fertilizers that contain:
- Nitrogen for leafy growth
- Phosphorous for flower and root development
- Potassium for overall plant growth
- Micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, manganese, zinc, and copper
- Beneficial microbes and mycorrhizae
- OMRI Certified Organic
How to Fertilize Tomatoes
Feeding tomato plants with fertilizer is vital for optimal fruit production and disease prevention. Here is how to give your plants the nutritional boost that they need to grow. Always check your fertilizer instructions for application instructions.
- Add fertilizer to the soil before planting, mixing it into the soil as a soil conditioner.
- Apply fertilizer two weeks after planting time.
- Fertilize tomato plants twice per month if using a liquid or quick-release fertilizer.
- Or apply a slow-release fertilizer that will gradually feed your tomato plants over the course of two months.
- If you have chosen a chemical fertilizer, do not allow the plant to come in direct contact with the fertilizer, as the high concentrations can burn the plant.
- Watering plants before fertilizing is beneficial and balances out the absorption of nutrients.
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Organic Tomato Plant Fertilizer
When growing crops, the higher quality your soil is, the healthier your plants will be and the more they will produce. It’s best to build your soil with organic components rather than add chemicals. Organic fertilizers and well-decomposed organic matter can help build your soil structure and increase its nutrient content, leading to lush, highly productive crops.
When growing heavy-feeders like tomatoes, feeding them is vital to their performance. The best fertilizer for tomatoes incorporates micronutrients, macronutrients, beneficial microbes and doesn’t negatively impact the ecosystem.