In this growing season, the concern that is passing through your mind is, perhaps, how to fertilize your tomatoes and you are also eager to know about the NPK for your tomatoes. Well, be patient enough to go through the content and you will have a clear conception about the fertilizer and nutrition of your tomatoes and you will be able to feed your tomatoes necessarily at the perfect stages.
At first, it is noteworthy to mention that the tomato plants are in need of two types of fertilizer and they are macronutrients and micronutrients. The very first includes phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium while the following one includes magnesium, boron, calcium and zinc. Also it is important to remember that during every growing cycle, the plants require different ratios of these nutrients. Honestly saying, it seems to feel like daunting task to fertilize tomatoes properly for the new gardeners. Also it does not matter whether you start from seeds or seedlings and you cannot ignore about soil nourishment.
If you want to harvest an amazing crop year after year from your plants, you need guidance. And you must remember that no single fertilizer can work best in every garden. Doesn’t it sound harsh? No, if there was a single fertilizer enough to feed your plants all the year round, it would be boring or a breeze to garden. So, no more talking, let’s have a glance on the options that can be the best guidance for your tomato fertilization.
- Depending on the growing stage, the requirement of fertilizer defers.
- While mixing your fertilizer into the soil, don’t forget that the roots of tomato plants cannot drive deep more than 6-7 inches.
- Keep considering the ratio of the elements in the fertilizer. For example, some fertilizer has number series i.e. 10-8-10. It essentially means that the fertilizer contains nitrogen 10%, phosphorous 8% and potassium 10% along with the filler materials. This is called the N-P-K ratio and it happens only in cause of commercial fertilizer.
Best nutrients for tomato plants
- Phosphorous ensures the growth of roots while potassium- flowering and nitrogen can be mostly helpful for foliage.
- To ensure the development of roots and fruit, phosphorous is crucial. Therefore, it is the fertilizer that is essential for your tomatoes at the initial and final stage.
- As it is mentioned above that nitrogen is essential to take care of your foliage. But be careful of applying excessive nitrogen as it may result in bushy plants having less or no fruit.
- Potassium is the very fertilizer that is crucial to ensure the development of your plants and to produce flowers and fruit. At the same time, during photosynthesis, it is mostly important.
Fertilizer to start with tomato seeds
Perhaps it is known to all that the seeds of tomato seeds don’t need any fertilizer to germinate. Because, the seeds contain enough nutrients to deliver the first leaves.
Fertilizer for tomato seedlings
Many of the gardeners often ask whether the seedlings of tomato need fertilizer or not. Obviously the answer is yes, they do. You must bear in mind that the tomato seedlings are very quickly grown plants. And to ensure the regular and proper development, fertilizer can play the most vital role. After planting, they start bearing fruit within the first four months as rule of thumb.
Fertilizer for full grown plants
Fertilizers are essential for the full grown plants and honestly saying, you cannot expect good harvest without them. Fertilizer requirement depends on the soil, type of your tomatoes and ecological condition under which you are growing.
If you fail to maintain the development steps rightly, total production may be affected seriously as no fertilizer can come to work in such a critical situation. Don’t be anxious, you’ll be able to handle and you need not to be a pro for that. But if you know what you need to do or what you should do; it’s enough. Be careful to take any action as the plats are very resilient.
Tasks performed by the fertilizer
A short view of tasks that the fertilizers perform is given below:
|Nitrogen||Ensures regular development of foliage.|
|Phosphorous||Develops the roots and fruit; helps to fight against stress.|
|Potassium||Helps continuous growth; aids the plants in photosynthesis and some other diseases.|
|Calcium||Ensures the development of roots and leaves; helps producing firm tomatoes.|
|Magnesium||Keeps the plants green; improves both flowering and fruit.|
|Zinc and Boron||Accelerate the rate of flowering; ensures timely ripens.|
Best methods to feed your tomatoes during flowering to ripening fruit
At this phase, your plants are still in need of nitrogen in a little amount. If you think that your plants have a perfect growth and there is no demand in the soil, you need not to apply nitrogen in the soil.
Again, to get an expected harvesting of tempting fruits, phosphorus is the most important and crucial nutrient. At this stage of growing, potassium is also very important. So, don’t hesitate to apply some potassium but not more than once in a week. When you’ll notice that the fruit is not developing well, add some phosphorus to accelerate the actual development. But it would be best if you could test your soil to be sure whether there is any lack of phosphorus or not. This is noteworthy to mention that a little bit excessive phosphorus can do no harm at the first year of production. Be careful applying them for the next year.
Fertilizer during transplanting the seedlings
To ensure the growth of almost every plants, nitrogen is mostly essential. And the soil provides sufficient nitrogen for your plants. Due to some stupid actions, this natural function may be hampered. Like, if you apply a huge amount of coconut husk or same kind of filler materials, your plants won’t have sufficient nitrogen there.
Checking nitrogen level in the soil
The only way to know if I need to apply nitrogen or not is to test the soil. According to a general rule of thumb, if you use fresh compost in the soil, you’re free from the duty to add any additional nitrogen; just apply phosphorus at the primary stage of growth. Also, you need not to apply phosphorus if the compost provides a maximum amount of bones and banana peels.
Ways to add phosphorus for transplants
It will be best to use a combination of organic fertilizer spikes and bone. Let’s have a glance on the best ways to ensure phosphorus:
If you want to use some organic fertilizer, bone meal is a great way to do so. It’ll also ensure sufficient phosphorus for your plants so that the roots may grow strong and they can produce a bumper fruit.
Bone meal is made up of animal bones and mostly from beef. You can also apply other bones like fish bones. Now a day, commercial bone meal products maintain the ratio of 3-15-0 but I like most the fertilizer that maintains 2-14-0. It provides another essential micronutrient i.e. calcium. It helps to prevent tomato blossom end rot which is mostly common disease for tomato plants. It also strengthens the cells and prevents splitting and cracking.
How to use bone meal
This is mostly important to check the PH level of your soil before applying some bone meal. If the level is 7 or over, work on reducing the level before applying the fertilizer.
Perhaps it is known to you all that bone meal is the very fertilizer that is slow-releasing and it takes approximately 3.5-4 months to break down completely in the soil. That’s why you need not to apply a lot of them or many times in a growing season. On an average, 1 kg of bone meal may do better for 2 square meters of land (1 pound for 10 square feet).
This is a spike that contains a higher level of phosphorus and decent level of nitrogen and potassium. You need to push the fertilizer spikes into the soil.
How to use fertilizer spikes
Determinate vs indeterminate plants
You will be able to observe a clear distinction between the growing phase and fruiting phase for the determinate types of tomato plants. So, it’ll so easy for you to cater the required nutrients for your plants. But if your handling some indeterminate plants, you’ll surely be in need of fertilizer that maintains a ratio of 6-24-24 or 8-32-16.
Nitrogen for pre-flowering plants
During the growth phase of your determinate plants, nitrogen is one of most important components. You need not to worry about adding nitrogen if you are sure of having a good soil and using a lot of compost. Still you may need to apply some nitrogen if you notice that the bottom leaves seem to be yellow.
But, you need to remember that the tomato leaves turn into yellow not only because of the scarcity of nitrogen; sometime it causes for excessive nitrogen also. I do not essentially mean it to scare you. In most of the cause, it is caused for the lack of nitrogen.
Some of my friends ask me what I do to ensure nitrogen. I like to use compost at starting and the 1-2 weeks after the first month, I usually like to apply some compost tea. I think it is enough to ensure nitrogen for the tomato plants for a growing season. Beside, it’ll provide some macro and micro nutrients that is also important.
Applying potassium before flowering until the end
To produce a lot of flowers, you must ensure your plants sufficient amount of nitrogen. As I said before, nitrogen should not be excessive, too much nitrogen will accelerate the growth of leaves, not flowers.
Still, it is the most important time to apply some potassium that helps to promote a strong growth. It’s important to note that the quantity of potassium will be double of your nitrogen fertilizer in a garden. Keep looking for some 8-32-16 or 6-24-24. If you don’t know the instruction of using the fertilizer, follow the packaging instruction. Besides, you can do like me that is to make a compost tea. Let’s discuss about how to prepare compost fertilizer tea.
Compost fertilizer tea
Of course you know that banana peels should be treated as a great source of potassium. And if you bury them to aid your plats, they release potassium slowly and helps your plants throughout the growing stages. All that you need to do is to
- Collect some bananas
- Perfectly chop them into pieces
- Place them into the ground.
Continue collecting peels to prepare the tea in a vaster container as your plats are growing. Try covering the container so that the rot cannot attract some of the disgusting insects.
How to bury the bananas into the ground
Push the bananas near the base of your roots. Just one inch of depth is not enough if you want to have a lot of flowers. Try a deeper one but no so deep that can damage the rooting system or the root cannot reach to absorb from the soil.
Just before the flowering
You must find out that how many days it takes on an average to flower, not fruit. Two weeks earlier, start watering your plants depending how much got. Also it relays on the concentration. It is impossible to give you a deeper explanation on it as it most depends on the experience.
Why to use organic tomato fertilizer
This is impossible to describe in words why it is important to use organic tomato fertilizer. Some of the majors are given below:
- Being easy to apply
- Better for your environment
- Better for your water table as well
- Potentially less harmful
- Developing the natural quality in your soil
- Reducing the risk of damage being caused by the overuse of chemical fertilizer.
Not for all tomatoes
This is the general requirement of fertilizer for your tomatoes and it is no for the tomatoes at every growing phase. What kind of fertilizer and how much you will apply, will surely depend on the microenvironment of your growing bed or location. You can only know about the nutrition of you soil by experience. Testing soil is the most reliable method in this regard.
Things to remember
- If your soil is sandy, you need more fertilizer than sticky and clay like soil because sandy soil cannot hold nutrients.
- You must apply more soil if you want to grow in containers as the plants in a container use up the nutrients quickly than those of on ground.
- Always apply the fertilizer on roots or around the plants on ground- never on leaves.
You can obviously notice some of the common symptoms of scarcity of fertilizer in the soil such as increased diseases, stunted growth and inhibited fruits. But remember, excess fertilization can be more dangerous that can catastrophically reduce the ability of the plants to grow fruit, destroy or severely damage the total production.
In spite of the lack of fertilizer in the soil, tomato plants may grow up struggling with some difficulties; most probably they will be able to grow at least fruit in such cause. But over fertilization can result into the death of the plats immediately on the spot. I do not essentially mention this sentence to scare you; just you need to be conscious of applying fertilizer. And if it happens so, always there is an option to fix it.
Symptoms of over fertilization
Due to over fertilization, tomato plants may show some of the symptoms that will help you to realize that there is excessive application of fertilizer and they are as below:
- Yellow leaves
- Delayed flower with bushy leaves
- On the surface, a skin of stuff
- Wilting and yellowing bottom leaves
- Sudden loss of leaves
Fixing over fertilization
- To treat excess nitrogen, you can spread some mulch. To get a quicker result, use sawdust mixing in the soil instead.
- Scrape off the white layer of salt on the top of the soil and dispose it if you notice fertilizer build up through white salt.
- Soak the soil with water if you are growing in container. Then let is drain out.
- You need to soak the soil thoroughly for a few times if you are a ground grower.
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