If you are interested in growing tomato plants, you must consider their maintenance. Despite being easy to plant in pots or fields, tomatoes are heavy feeders that need good quality fertilizers to thrive. Generally, they work great with high-phosphorus fertilizer to support their growth. Fortunately, you can make tomato fertilizer homemade at home.
In this article, we will provide tomato fertilizer homemade recipes loaded with everything they need, including phosphorus, nitrogen, and other essential minerals.
We also include how to apply your homemade tomato fertilizers. And as each growing stage needs specific nutrients, you must know when to fertilize tomatoes. Therefore, bear with us and read this article to the end to broaden your insights about what the tomato plants need to produce bountiful harvests.
Table of Contents
- What Nutrients Do Tomato Plants Need?
- Nutrients Needed During Transplanting
- What To Feed Tomatoes During The Growth Phase?
- What To Feed Tomatoes When Fruiting?
- When To Fertilize Tomato Plants?
- How To Make The Best Homemade Tomato Fertilizer Recipes?
- Compost Is The Base
- Add The Nutrients Needed
- How To Make Liquid Tomato Fertilizer?
- Using The Homemade Tomato Fertilizer
What Nutrients Do Tomato Plants Need?
Like all plants, tomatoes generally need phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium.
As heavy feeders, tomato plants require abundant nutrients throughout their growth stages. Like all plants, they generally need phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. These three components must be provided in each growing step but different amounts. Hence, understanding what they need is crucial so you do not over-fertilize the plants and stress them out.
Nutrients Needed During Transplanting
Transplanting is the process of moving plants from one location to another. It is beneficial to introduce the fertilizer to the roots to have better absorption. In this stage, your tomatoes will need phosphorus to help convert all the nutrients into usable building blocks that will later be used for their growth. Or, in other words, phosphorus in an energy converter for your crops.
However, the proportion is the key! The phosphorus requirement is around 150 pounds per acre. If you give it too much, you will notice phosphorus toxicity symptoms, like redness on the leaf margins. It is a signal of interveinal tissue death due to excess phosphorus. So, be wise, fellas!
What To Feed Tomatoes During The Growth Phase?
Nitrogen is the nutrient tomatoes need to encourage growth and nourish your tomato plants.
The chemical element helps your crops produce chlorophyll, a vital pigment in photosynthesis. Without nitrogen, the leaves of tomato plants will begin to turn yellow.
Furthermore, farmers will commonly add nitrogen fertilizers to meet the needs of tomato plants. Nonetheless, giving too much nitrogen fertilizer may lead to root burn that will eventually kill them.
Therefore, apply fertilizer to the dose of around 150 pounds per acre during their seasonal growth. The portion is adequate for fruit production and furrow irrigation. If you add phosphorus, the proportion will be around 100-120 pounds per acre.
What To Feed Tomatoes When Fruiting?
Unlike the growing phase, which requires more nitrogen to encourage growth, you should reduce it in the fruiting stage. Excess nitrogen will make leaf growth too dense which suppresses the flowering process. Thus, fruit production is not optimal.
Instead of nitrogen, potassium is the most important mineral you must provide during fruiting to stimulate flowering.
Moreover, it aids the production and sugar transport and maintains the water activity throughout the plant.
In addition, potassium is essential to produce lycopene, a pigment that gives tomatoes their red color. Tomatoes usually need about 267 pounds of potassium per acre. But this need must be adjusted to the cultivar you plant.
Moreover, potassium deficiency can cause a reduction in the yield and fruit quality of tomatoes. In addition, the excess of this mineral also negatively impacts the plants. They will produce less fruit with a soft texture.
Ideally, tomato plants contain at least 3% potassium in their tissues. Too much potassium will also lead to nitrogen deficiency which causes yellowing of the leaves and reddening of the veins.
When To Fertilize Tomato Plants?
Tomato fertilization starts at the very beginning of their life, from seedlings to fruiting. The only difference lies in the type and composition of the fertilizer nutrients (which we have explained above, scroll up!).
Generally, the best tomato fertilizer ratio is 10-10-10, or where the potassium composition is higher, for example, 2-3-1 (nitrogen-potassium-phosphorus).
Before seeding, you can offer compost or balanced NPK fertilizer while digging the holes to promote healthy growth. In addition, adding more nitrogen is welcome to encourage stem and root development. However, we recommend providing a quarter to half-strength fertilizer to prevent root burn that will kill your plant. You definitely don’t want them to die before starting, do you?
Moreover, tomatoes generally need more nutrients to support their growing phases after seedlings. Nonetheless, it may not be the case if you have introduced compost before planting. To determine whether they require more fertilizer or not, observe their growth.
Additionally, you can start fertilizing tomatoes again after they start flowering. Provide more potassium during this phase to stimulate flowers and fruits.
How To Make The Best Homemade Tomato Fertilizer Recipes?
Instead of purchasing NPK fertilizers or compost, some farmers try to create tomato fertilizer homemade recipes. This special fertilizer may require more treatments as they are made of natural ingredients.
Farmers or gardeners usually add rabbit droppings, chicken manure, crushed egg shells, and food waste to their compost pile.
From this point, maggots will do their job of breaking down organic matter to allow easy nutrient absorption when the compost is released into the soil. So, what are the secret tomato fertilizer homemade recipes you can try at home? Let’s check it out below!
Compost Is The Base
The best natural fertilizer for tomato plants is compost. So, we will add it as the base ingredient to make our own homemade fertilizer recipe. It is generally loaded with essential nutrients, like phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium, marking half of the nutrients your tomatoes need to thrive for their entire lifespan.
And even more remarkable, it can work on tomatoes in the field and garden and fertilizer for tomatoes in pots. But please choose the high-quality compost to optimally boost nutrients in your homemade tomato fertilizer.
Add The Nutrients Needed
As for the additional ingredients to make natural tomato fertilizer, you can actually collect them from your surroundings. They can help increase the nutrient content of the compost base. For example, crushed egg shells will improve potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium to support your plant’s growth.
In addition, a cup of wood ashes works excellent to raise the level of trace minerals in the soil. Apart from these two ingredients, some others will work great in your homemade tomato fertilizer. What are those?
1. Wood Ashes
Little did you know, the results of burning wood that may be considered useless are rich in potassium and phosphorus, which are beneficial for your plants. Those duos are fantastic nutrients to add because they stimulate germination and flowers and fruit at the later stage. However, too much is always not a good option. Excessive wood ash addition to your fertilizer can lower the soil pH, inhibiting tomato plant growth and reducing the harvest.
2. Kelp Meal
In addition to wood ash, you can buy kelp meals to increase the concentration of potassium and phosphorus in your soil garden or pots. Since it is low in NPK, we highly recommend adding this ingredient to high-quality compost to balance the nutrients. Moreover, a kelp meal needs around four months to release its nutrients. And so, apply your homemade tomato fertilizer with kelp meal in the early stage of tomato growth.
3. Bone Meal
Just like in humans, bone contains lots of calcium and phosphorus that are necessary for the initial development of your tomato plants. It can also raise the soil pH, just in case your garden or potting soil is slightly acidic.
4. Coffee Grounds or Tea Leaves
Both coffee grounds and tea leaves are low in nitrogen. Thus, these combos are best applied for the last growing stage of your tomatoes. In addition, they can attract worms which play an essential role in maintaining soil fertility and help reduce the concentration of heavy metals in your soil.
5. Alfalfa Pellets
Considering its rich nitrogen composition, alfalfa pellets are excellent for the growth phase to encourage foliage production. Don’t worry about root burn as it releases the nitrogen slowly. But please, add it in moderation.
6. Crushed Egg Shells
Similar to the bone meal, crushed egg shells offer additional calcium and phosphorus to your homemade tomato fertilizer recipe. The calcium can prevent blossom end rot which causes the tissue on the tomato blossom end to be damaged and rooted. This physical disorder causes farmers to suffer losses due to reduced yields.
7. Rabbit Droppings
Thanks to their pellet shapes, these rabbit dung or rabbit droppings are one of the favorite ingredients in making homemade fertilizer. They are loaded with nitrogen and phosphorus, two essential minerals to support healthy tomato plants. Additionally, they are slow-release, preventing root burn in your plants.
How To Make Liquid Tomato Fertilizer?
Growing tomatoes do require care. Even though they are not picky about the type of fertilizer, some farmers and gardeners prefer to provide liquid fertilizer for tomatoes. The reason is that it has a higher nutrient absorption capacity.
If you are also interested in making liquid tomato fertilizer, try following the steps below:
- Make a homemade tomato fertilizer first. Scroll up if you want to check out the ingredients you need to make it!
- Prepare a five-gallon bucket and a scoop.
- After that, take one pound of homemade tomato fertilizer into the bucket.
- Add about one and a half gallons of water and mix well.
- Stir several times a day so that all the components are well mixed.
- Leave it for five days before use.
- After that, drain the liquid and immediately use the dregs into your compost pile. Don’t let it sit too long!
Using The Homemade Tomato Fertilizer
After knowing the nutrients needed for the growth of your crops and making your homemade tomato fertilizer, all you need to do is to apply it. There are two different ways to use the natural tomato fertilizer for your plants.
The first one is to fill the holes before you transplant the tomatoes. It will help your roots grow and seedlings. Then, close the holes up and water the surface thoroughly to accelerate the nutrient absorption in the roots.
In addition, you can introduce another portion of fertilizer when the tomatoes enter the growth and fruiting phases. Just remember not to over-fertilize tomatoes to adverse effects. Follow their needs according to the growth stages to ensure proper fertilization.