Having easy and convenient access to fresh, ripe, juicy, and delicious tomatoes is not as hard as you think it might be. Especially in your little garden in place.
However, to reap their full benefits of growing lush and healthy tomatoes, consistent care and maintenance are necessary. A big part of that care is ensuring your plants receive all the extra nutrients it requires. The best way to do that would be by using good and highly nutritious tomato fertilizers.
There are various kinds and types of releases of fertilizer available in the market, but not all of them may be good for your plant. That is why a safer way would be to make your own easy homemade tomato fertilizer.
In this article, you will learn how to make the best homemade tomato fertilizer for your plant and all that you would need to ensure your plant thrives.
Basic Facts On Growing Tomatoes
Growing tomatoes in a container or a spacious home garden are rewarding but tough work. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and will require you to feed them enough extra nutrients to grow healthy. Often, if they lack ingredients, then the tomatoes that grow also lack flavor, color, size, and taste.
The opposite is also true. If you fertilize your plant too much, then you may end up with a burnt root system. The amount of tomato fertilizer your plant will need depends on the nutrient level of your soil. That is why it is important to soil test before going ahead with a tomato fertilizer, whether organic fertilizer, chemical, homemade or store-bought.
Tomatoes are a very popular option for a container plant.
In particular, the plant requires three important ingredients to thrive, which are a must in tomato fertilizer. These nutrients include potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus- commonly known as NPK.
Apart from the tomato fertilizer requirements, you will also need to give your tomato plants proper sunlight and water and a potting mix. Tomato plants would need around 6-8 hours of sunlight at the minimum.
The space you provide your plant in your garden or pot also matters greatly.
General Care Of Tomato Plants
As you already know, tomatoes can be a little tricky to grow in the sense that they need some maintenance to ensure sturdy growth. The number of nutrients you provide, the watering, placement, sunlight requirements, etc., can sometimes be confusing.
Here are a few general ways you can provide care for your plants to ensure healthy growth.
The amount of water your plants revive can be an important factor in deciding their long life span or short-lived nature. Ideal watering requirements for tomatoes include moderate amounts of water that keep the soil damp but not wet. A gallon of water per day works well.
Minimally, six hours of sunlight is a must. However, around 8-10 hours will be ideal. However, if you cannot manage it, then the duration of direct sunlight your tomato plant receives should not decrease to less than 6 hours. If your tomato plant is in a container or potted, make sure the spot you place your pot receives plenty of sunlight.
To prevent your tomatoes from getting destroyed by diseases and blights, make sure to check the plant regularly for any fungi or pest problems. Lack of calcium can cause blossom end rot. So, to avoid blossom end rot in your plant, ensure enough calcium is present in the soil. Leaves can pale due to nitrogen deficiency as well, so fertilize appropriately.
The tomato is one plant that is notorious for having sneaky sucker stem growth. These sucker stems grow from the main plant and, in essence, steal the nutrient so the main plant. This way, the actual tomato plant remains underfed while the sucker stems may sprout healthy and ripe tomatoes.
As the suckers take away the required nutrients from the plant, it is important to cut them and prune any dead leaves away.
5. Avoid Overcrowding
When growing tomatoes in a plant container or pt, it is important to not overcrowd the same pot with multiple plants. Again, this will result in nutrients getting shared unevenly, and the plants may not receive enough to give tasty and healthy fruits.
Fertilizing is one of the most important steps. Nitrogen is essential for tomato plants. The best fertilizer is organic and free from toxins. Chemical fertilizer works well, but they are unhealthy for humans. That is why organic and even homemade tomato fertilizer is preferred. Several easy and convenient homemade tomato fertilizer recipes will give your tomatoes the best nutrients, all organically. There is also liquid fertilizer you can make at home. Liquid fertilizer has its own sets of benefits as a liquid fertilizer is fast absorbing and very nutritious for the plant.
How To Water Your Tomato Plants
Too much watering can cause root rot and ultimately kill your tomatoes.
Avoid underwatering your plant. A gallon of water daily should be enough. Yes, you need to be careful about the amount of water you give, but you may end up giving the plants less water than required in being too cautious. If you are unsure how much water is too little or too much, invest in pots in drainage holes and water until the moisture starts to flow from the holes.
Additionally, you can also just check the soil’s dampness by inserting your finger in the soil. If it is too dry, then add more water. Similarly, you can also pick the pot up to check the lightness or heaviness to gauge the water level.
How To Properly Feed Your Tomato Plants
Your tomato plants don’t only need a light and airy soil medium that is mixed with an enriched mulch. The extra nutrients will come from fertilizer that contains the essential nutrients needed by the plant. For a plant of tomatoes in general, a fertilizer with a good NPK ratio is required.
A slow-release fertilizer with all the essential micro and macronutrients will go a long way towards making sure you get tasty but healthy tomatoes. Organic and homemade tomato fertilizer is a better option, and you can complement them with other materials like crushed egg shells, kelp, fish, and bone meal. This way, you can be sure that your tomato plants receive all the important nutrients and be carefree in the knowledge that there are no toxic chemicals included. Some chemical fertilizers can even kill essential enzymes and microorganisms and cause burns to your plant.
You also need to make sure the fertilizer mixed soil isn’t too close to the roots. That can cause burns. There should be a layer of unfertilized soil on top of the fertilized ones. When the plant bears fruits, the fertilized layer should be up to 6 inches from the base. Otherwise, if the fertilizer is too close to the plant, it may cause the tomato plants to burn.
Based on how much nutrients your soil requires, you can feed your plant slow-release fertilizer every couple of weeks. In the initial planting, they should be added to the soil when you plant and then when they start to fruit. After that, light fertilizers every other week should be sufficient.
Nutrients Required For The Tomato Plant
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK) are the main nutrients required for the plant’s photosynthesis. Others are; calcium, sulfur, magnesium, copper, boron, zinc, and molybdenum.
The growth of the cell structure is supported by calcium, and proper amounts of other nutrients will help prevent blossom end rot in the plants and maintain healthy chlorophyll levels.
Healthy amounts of nutrients in the fertilizers in the soil are required. Too much can cause burns in the root system. Too much nitrogen may give you greenery in the plant, but you will not get any flowers. Hence there will be no actual fruits or tomatoes for you to enjoy.
How Often Do You Need To Fertilise Your Plant?
You will first need to fertilize your plant when you plant in the soil or the potting mix. After they have been fertilized in the initial planting, you will need to wait for them to bear fruit. When you see the growth of fruits, you will need to fertilize them again so that your tomatoes are healthy and organic and remain so through the growing season.
After that, it is dependent on the number of nutrients your soil will require that will properly determine the frequency of fertilizing. However, once a week or every two weeks is the norm throughout the growing season.
Your dosage and frequency are subjected to change as the fruit grows bigger and in different plant growth stages.
Before you fertilize, take a soil test to see your soil’s health and what micronutrients you will need to focus on replenishing the soil with.
How To Make The Best Homemade Tomato Fertilizer?
To make your homemade tomato fertilizer, you will not need to go beyond your kitchen. A lot of ingredients may already be with you. Ingredients like fish emulsion, wood ashes, and human hair can even be used.
1. The Base With Egg Shells
Firstly, it is important to get the fertilizer base is taken care of. For that, a good compost pile will be highly efficient. You can add yard and kitchen scraps to your compost and also include chicken or cow manure—even 2 cups of rabbit droppings. However, avoid dog or cat droppings.
If you find yourself out of any homemade compost, then you can make some using ingredients like peat moss, coconut coir blended with chicken, or cow manure, or even fish emulsion.
At this point, you can also add some worm castings to it and, in a big container, mix the compost well enough to not leave any clumps.
At this point, you can add crushed egg shells for extra calcium.
2. Adding Nutrients
Now once your base is ready, you will need to enrich it with nutrients that your plant will require. Once you have determined them, add in the phosphorus and potassium using ingredients like wood ashes, kelp meal, bone meal, greensand, and banana peels. Fish emulsion is great here as they are rich in all three essential nutrients. Next, add in ingredients that will increase the nitrogen and calcium to your base. You can include coffee grounds and alfalfa pellets for the slow release of nitrogen in the soil. Be sure to add some water to break up the alfalfa pellets before you add them.
Cut up human and pet hair can also be added, and for a higher nitrogen boost, you cal also incorporate blood or soybean meal.
Be sure to mix them up properly. Mix it thoroughly before setting it up to cure.
Curing is an essential part of the fertilizer-making process. It is important to make your homemade tomato fertilizer at least one month in advance. Your mixture needs to cure properly in a sealed bucket.
The proportion of the nutrients will be dependent on the growth stage of your plant and the nutrient requirements in the soil. For nitrogen phosphorus and potassium, a ratio of 10-5-5 or 10-5-8 or even a 5-10-8 and 5-10-5.
The ingredient required for homemade tomato fertilizer can be many. What you use is dependent upon their availability. Here are a few of them.
- Dried coffee grounds
- 2 cups of Eggshell
- Alfalfa pellets
- Kelp or bone meal
- Cow or chickens manure
- Wood Ashes
- Blackstrap molasses
- Epsom salt
- Pet or human hair
- Fish emulsion
Homemade fertilizer lacks any toxicity, and its ratios are more manageable. Moreover, they are cheaper and can easily be available. Moreover, they increase the soil to high quality and fungal activity while also increasing the soil’s water retention ability.
They are naturally slow-releasing, which is a big benefit, and are safer than store-bought ones. They’re also easy to apply and make, and best of all, they use up the kitchen waste and scraps.
Final Words On Homemade Fertilizer
Proper fertilizing mixes and the type, whether slow-release or not, along with the ratio of nutrients, is crucial for the plant’s health. Homemade tomato fertilizer is much better for the plants. Using organic fertilizer, you can be sure that your tomatoes receive all the important nutrients and be carefree in the knowledge that there are no toxic chemicals included. Some chemical ones can even kill essential enzymes and microorganisms and cause burns to your plants.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.