How often should tomato plants be fertilized

Tomato fertilizers: These fertilizers ensure rich harvests

Tomatoes are the undisputed number one snack vegetable. If you have a free space in the sunny bed or in the tub on the balcony, you can grow the big or small, red or yellow delicacies yourself.

But regardless of whether in the bed or in the pot - tomatoes grow quickly and accordingly need a lot of food. As heavy consumers, their nutritional requirements during the growing season and fruiting are extremely high. The right tomato fertilizer ensures a rich fruit set and tasty fruits. Organic fertilizer is preferable to mineral fertilizer. It is obtained from natural waste materials, produced inexpensively, strengthens fruit formation as well as plant health and, unlike mineral fertilizers, cannot lead to oversupply in tomatoes due to its biological composition. We'll introduce you to the best tomato fertilizers and explain how to use them correctly.

Compost: the perfect organic tomato fertilizer

Anyone who maintains a composting place in the garden always has the best basic fertilizer at hand. Especially with outdoor tomatoes, it is advisable to upgrade the future tomato patch with plenty of garden compost as early as autumn. This gives the valuable microorganisms time over the winter to spread through the earth and enrich them with all the necessary nutrients. Garden compost has the advantage that it does not cost anything, that it is organic if composted correctly and that it also improves the soil permanently with valuable humus. Stored horse manure has a similar effect. Your tomato plants will thank you!

Organic vegetable fertilizer

If you cannot use natural compost, it is best to use an organic slow-release fertilizer for vegetables as basic fertilization. This is usually in granulated or powder form and, like compost, is worked into the soil before planting. The composition of the organic basic fertilizer should be tailored to the vegetable crops. Only then does it ensure that the young plants used receive a balanced supply of nutrients right from the start. This is particularly important when planting in pots, as the limited amount of substrate in the pot leaches out faster than in the bed. The quantities can be found on the packaging.

Listen now: Tips & tricks for growing tomatoes

In this episode of our "Grünstadtmenschen" podcast, MEIN SCHÖNER GARTEN editors Nicole Edler and Folkert Siemens reveal their tips and tricks for growing tomatoes. They also explain how often to fertilize tomatoes. Have a listen!

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Top dressing with liquid fertilizer

Once the tomatoes have established themselves in their new habitat and are growing rapidly, they should be fertilized with an organic liquid fertilizer every 14 days to support fruit formation. Liquid tomato fertilizer has the advantage that it does not have to be worked into the soil and thus does not damage the root area of ​​the plants. In addition, the nutrients in the liquid fertilizer are in a dissolved state and are therefore immediately available to the plants. Simply add the organic liquid fertilizer to the irrigation water regularly in the specified dosage.

Worm tea

For the professionals of organic gardening, worm tea is the ideal alternative to commercial liquid fertilizer. Worm tea or compost tea is the liquid that is created automatically when garden and kitchen waste is composted. To make worm tea yourself, you need a special worm composter. In this, the liquid is caught instead of seeping into the ground as in a conventional composter, and can be removed using a tap. The strong smell disappears as soon as the compost liquid has been in contact with air and soil for a while. Alternatively, worm tea can be made from a mixture of molasses, water and worm humus. Worm tea contains the concentrated nutrients from the compost and is fully organic. There are now also fertilizer manufacturers who sell pre-packaged worm tea.

Another all-round product for the organic garden is nettle manure. It is fertilizer and pesticide in one and can be used in many ways in the garden. To make it, nettles, water and some rock flour are prepared for fermentation and then strained. Only use the brew mixed with water for fertilization, otherwise there is a risk that the pH value in the soil will rise too much. Nettle stock is particularly rich in nitrogen and naturally strengthens plant health and resistance. Nettle manure is therefore not only an excellent fertilizer and natural plant tonic, but can also be used as a spray against the aphids, which like to cavort on tomato plants. Like liquid organic fertilizer, nettle manure is administered to tomato plants every two weeks.

Fertilize tomatoes properly

The common fertilizer recommendation for tomato plants is 3 grams of nitrogen, 0.5 grams of phosphate, 3.8 grams of potassium and 4 grams of magnesium per kilogram of tomatoes and square meter of soil. Ready-mixed tomato fertilizer contains all of these nutrients in the right composition. Natural fertilizers such as compost or liquid manure differ from these compositions, so the constitution of the plant must be carefully observed when using such fertilizers. Tomato plants show relatively clearly when they are lacking nutrients. Yellow or brownish leaves, short stature, lack of flower formation and rot are clearly visible on the plant and should be remedied by changing the fertilizer.

In addition, when caring for tomato plants, pay attention not only to what you are fertilizing with, but also how. Since the sun-hungry plants are usually exposed to great heat during the day, it is advantageous to administer the tomato fertilizer together with the irrigation water in the early morning or in the evening. Otherwise, root burns can occur. Do not use horn shavings or fresh compost for nitrogen fertilization of tomatoes in the bucket, because these fertilizers cannot be broken down due to the lack of microorganisms in the pot substrate. Do not start fertilizing your tomato plants until the young plants have already grown a bit and can be set outdoors. Tomatoes are not fertilized for sowing, otherwise they will shoot up without sufficient roots.

Practical video: Obtaining and storing tomato seeds

Would you like to enjoy your favorite tomato again next year? Then you should definitely collect and store the seeds. In this video we show you what to look out for.

A little tip: only the so-called solid seed varieties are suitable for producing your own tomato seeds. Unfortunately, F1 varieties cannot be propagated true-to-variety.

Tomatoes are delicious and healthy. You can find out from us how to obtain and properly store the seeds for sowing in the coming year.
Credit: MSG / Alexander Buggisch