By Heather Rhoades
Tomatoes, like many annuals, are heavy feeders and do better when provided with plenty of nutrients to grow through the season. Fertilizers, chemical or organic, can help provide the extra nutrients that tomatoes need to grow quickly. But what is a good tomato fertilizer? And when should you be fertilizing tomato plants? Keep reading and we will answer the question about fertilizing tomatoes.
What is the Best Tomato Fertilizer?
Which tomato fertilizer you use will depend on the current nutrient content of your soil. Before you start fertilizing tomatoes, it is best to have your soil tested.
If your soil is correctly balanced or high in nitrogen, you should use a fertilizer that is slightly lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus, such as a 5-10-5 or a 5-10-10 mixed fertilizer.
If you are slightly lacking in nitrogen, you can use a balanced fertilizer like 8-8-8 or 10-10-10.
If you are unable to get a soil test done, unless you have had problems in the past with sickly tomato plants, you can assume that you have a balanced soil and use the higher phosphorus tomato plant fertilizer.
When fertilizing tomato plants, be careful that you do not use too much nitrogen. This will result in a lush, green tomato plant with very few tomatoes on it. If you have experienced this problem in the past, you may even want to consider simply providing phosphorus to the plant, instead of complete fertilizers for tomatoes.
When to Use Tomato Plant Fertilizers
Tomatoes should be first fertilized when you plant them in the garden. You can then wait until they set fruit to start fertilizing again. After the tomato plants start growing fruit, you can add light fertilizer once every one to two weeks until the first frost kills the plant.
How to Fertilize Tomatoes
When fertilizing tomatoes while planting, mix the tomato plant fertilizer in with the soil at the bottom on the planting hole. Then place some unfertilized soil on top of this before placing the tomato plant into the hole. If the raw fertilizer comes in contact with the roots of the plant, this can burn the tomato plant.
When fertilizing tomato plants after the fruit have set, first make sure that the tomato plant is watered well. If the tomato plant is not watered well before being fertilized, it can take up too much fertilizer and burn the plant.
After watering, spread the fertilizer on the ground starting approximately 6 inches from the base of the plant. Fertilizing too close to the tomato plant can result in fertilizer running off onto the stem and burning the tomato plant.