A healthy and prosperous tomato plant is the hallmark of any vegetable garden.
But before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, you must ensure your tomato plants are properly fertilized to ensure the maximum yield.
In this article, I will take you through the steps to fertilize your tomato plants for a delicious harvest!
For tomatoes, you will fertilize the plants once when you first plant them in the ground, and then you won’t fertilize them again until the plant settles into its new environment and you see the beginnings of fruit.
When you are transplanting tomato seedlings that you either purchased at a nursery or sprouted on your own, there are some steps you must take before diving right in.
Choosing a Fertilizer
First and foremost, you must make sure that the soil you are filling this container with is rich in proper nutrients.
These baby seedlings will rely heavily on these nutrients to grow strong.
There are plenty of pre-made fertilizer blends on the market that will work well in your garden.
The best way to be absolutely sure that your potting soil will have sufficient nutrients is to create your own mix.
Some additions I would recommend include:
• Regular compost
• Composted animal manure (try for chicken, horse, or cow)
• Worm castings
• Crushed egg shells (if you’re making them at home, please ensure they are washed)
These ingredients are fantastic additions to your soil to fertilize your tomato seedlings.
Composted animal manure is high in nitrogen, which gives plants an energy boost to grow.
Worm castings are not only water soluble, but also contain a variety of great minerals (nitrates, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous).
And crushed eggshells are loaded with calcium, which is used to prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes.
There is a lot of back-and-forth over whether choosing an organic or non-organic fertilizer is the best choice.
While plants are indifferent to where they get their nutrients, as gardeners, you should be more concerned about switching to organic.
Organic fertilizers are highly beneficial in that they cater to more micronutrients than just the standard nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium triad most chemical fertilizers only have.
They’re also more beneficial to the environment and will last longer in your garden.
Round 1: Fertilizing your Seedlings
After you’ve mixed your fertilizer blend, now comes the time to transplant your seedlings into their new home.
Lightly blend the fertilizer in with the potting soil and begin to fill your container. If you used an organic fertilizer mix, then you can transplant your tomato as is.
However, if any of the fertilizers you used happen to contain any non-organic chemicals, please place a thin layer of plain potting mix in between the fertilizer and the tomato seedling.
Direct contact with the seedling may cause root burn as the seedling’s roots begin to stretch out through the container.
Another thing to keep in mind while filling your tomato container is to make sure the soil is lightly packed and aerated; you do not want your tomatoes to be suffocated in a compact soil as this could be fatal.
If you find the soil to be compact, gently work the soil using a trowel (or gloved hands) to loosen it up and bring some aeration to it.
If your fingers can’t push through the soil, then imagine the difficulty a delicate root system will have!
Round 2: Fertilizing a Mature Plant
Fast-forward to the future and your tomato seedlings have grown into a beautiful nearly-mature plant; it’s tall, strong, and you’ve begun to notice some fruits and flowers blossoming!
Now comes the time for a second round of fertilizer.
At this stage, you should fertilize your tomato plants every one to two weeks until the frost comes. Before fertilizing, please water your tomato plant very well.
Not watering your tomato plants before introducing fertilizer can burn the plant, which would be devastating to all the effort you’ve put in so far.
After watering your tomato plant, you can proceed to fertilizing.
When it comes to fertilizing a mature tomato plant, you can do this in one of two ways, dry fertilizer or liquid fertilizer.
Whether you’re using dry or liquid fertilizer, make sure you fertilize the soil around your tomato plant, and never directly on the plant.
The best method for this is to place your fertilizer in a ring that is six inches out from the base of the main stem of the plant.
Allowing contact between the fertilizer and plant poses a danger to your tomatoes.
If you are using a dry fertilizer, spread the mixture in a ring and then gently mix the new fertilizer in with the existing soil.
Please remember to be careful when doing this, as digging too rough or too deep can negatively impact the root structure underneath.
Some gardeners find using liquid fertilizer to be an easier option to maneuver when it comes to fertilizing tomato crops.
A wide array of liquid fertilizer is available at any gardening store.
Most liquid fertilizers you will find are water-soluble and needs to be diluted before you can make use of it.
For the best results, please check the package instructions on your fertilizer for the appropriate fertilizer/water ratio.
Once again, when applying the product, you must be very careful to avoid pouring fertilizer directly on the plant.
One thing that I personally like to do that helps me have better control over pouring liquid fertilizer is that I fill a regular water bottle with the liquid mix and pour my fertilizer with that.
Having a smaller bottle to pour from gives me better motion and allows me to properly nourish my plants without fear of accidentally burning them.
At the end
Beautiful, juicy tomatoes are the highlight to any garden, big or small.
Proper fertilization is key to ensure that your first bite into your homegrown tomato is as perfect as can be.
I hope you found this information helpful as you navigate growing your plants.
Remember to be patient and gentle with your plants, and I guarantee you will have a bountiful harvest in no time!
Espiritu, Kevin & Nielsen, Lorin. “Tomato Fertilizer: How to Feed Your Plants For Ultimate
Harvests.” Epic Gardening. Accessed 6 April 2021.
Rhoades, Heather. “Fertilizing Tomatoes: Tips for Using Tomato Plant Fertilizer.” Gardening Know How. Accessed 5 April 2021.
The Editors. “Growing Tomatoes: Growing Tomatoes From Planting to Harvest.” The Old
Farmer’s Almanac. Accessed 5 April 2021.
Uncle Jim. “The Benefits of Worm Castings on Garden Soil and Plants.” Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. Accessed 6 April 2021.