Have you ever tried using natural tomato fertilizers to grow you tomato crop? Let’s face it… Tomatoes are undoubtedly the most popular plant grown in many home vegetable gardens. They are hardy plants and can grow in almost every “hardy” zone.
However, these heavy feeders need a lot of nutrients.
One of the most frequent questions that dominate tomato discussions is “what is the ideal natural fertilizer for tomatoes”. Tomatoes may need organic fertilizer at certain stages of their growth depending on the nutrients available in the soil.
What Are The Nutrients In My Tomato Soil?
To know the right natural fertilizer to use for tomatoes you’ll need to know the nutrients present in your soil first. Some like to use organic tomato fertilizer like this one.
If your soil has a high content of nitrogen, you might not be required to add more nitrogen to it. However, it’s unlikely the nitrogen content in your soil will to be high as it leaches easily from the soil.
Perform a soil test to determine the nutrients levels in your soil. There are home soil test kits [amazon] you can use to determine soil pH and macronutrients levels. Conversely, you can take your soil for testing to the state cooperative extension service.
Nutrients Needed For Different Stages of Tomato Plant Growth
After knowing the nutrients levels in your garden soil and/or pot soil, you’ll now need to know the different nutrients needed at different stages of tomato growth cycle. This will help you know the type of natural fertilizer to apply at each stage.
During transplanting, add more phosphorous to ensure rapid and strong root development. This will help your tomato plant to grow optimally and faster.
Once your tomatoes are established, you can raise the level of potassium to ensure vigorous growth of the plants and establishment of fruits.
Wood ashes from the fireplace can be an ideal source of potassium. Work it well into the soil. At this stage, avoid high levels of nitrogen as it might cause excessive foliage growth at the expense of fruit.
Now, with that in mind, we can analyze…
Organic Tomato Fertilizers And When To Use Them
Compost has all the basic nutrients, both macronutrients, and micronutrients, that are usually absent in synthetic fertilizers. Compost releases the nutrients gradually, thereby providing long-lasting nutrition.
It not only feeds your plants but also helps the soil to retain nutrients and water, neutralize the soil and adds beneficial microorganism to the soil.
Add significant amount into the bottom of each hole during transplanting and side dress each plant severally during the growing season.
2. Epsom Salt
Tomatoes use lots of magnesium while growing, epsom salt can help provide them with the necessary magnesium. You’ll see more blooms, stronger plants, less blossom-end rot, more fruit, deeper green color, along with taster, sweeter tomatoes.
Planting Tomato Seedlings – When planting a new tomato plant, place about 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt in the bottom of hole. Make sure to cover the epsom salt with a thin layer of dirt, before placing the tomato seedling in the hole.
3. Fish Emulsion
This is another natural fertilizer for tomatoes that gives them an extra boost, both at transplanting and during the growing season. It’s rich in phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium, as well as other important minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and sulfur.
Fish emulsion is available as a concentrated liquid fertilizer and produced by blending various parts of the fish including bones. Unlike compost, the nutrients in the fish emulsion are available to the plants immediately.
When applying, read the instructions on the package and foliar spray your plants every few weeks. You can also boost your seedling by drenching the root zone with the fish emulsion diluted in water.
4. Organic Cottonseed Meal
This is an ideal natural fertilizer that can be added as an organic soil amendment at the time of transplanting seedlings. Cottonseed meal [amazon] is rich in potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus in a ratio of 6-2-1.
The high level of nitrogen supports foliage growth during the early stage of plant growth. The nutrients in cottonseed meal are not available to the plants immediately; they are released slowly and last for close to four months.
It contains essential elements such as magnesium, calcium, copper, and sulfur, and other trace elements such as zinc and manganese.
When purchasing this organic fertilizer, choose the products that only labeled Certified Organic. Some cottonseed meal might contain pesticide residuals which are restricted.
4. Animal Manures
Animal manure is a classic plant food for tomatoes, but before application, you need to keep several things in mind.
Never use pet manures; cat and dog manures are highly toxic, dangerous to humans, and are full of pathogens.
Only use manure from the vegetarian animals such as horses and cattle. (Don’t use chicken manure).
Manure must be aged or composted before use as it can be too strong for the tomato plants.
Apply manure at the time of planting your tomato seedling.
5. Vegetable-Based Organic Fertilizers
Some of the best vegetable fertilizers include:
Alfalfa Meal – This can be found as rabbit food or hay bales. Alfalfa is a complete NPK fertilizer and is packed with loads of micronutrients and helpful hormones. Tomatoes planted in compost and dressed with a alfalfa mulch cover thrive very well.
Seaweed – If you live near the beach, try feeding your tomato plants seaweed; they might be low in NPK but has over 60 trace elements that are crucial for fruits formation. You’ll can also find liquid seaweed fertilizers on the market.
6. Fertilize With Black Strap Molasses
TomatoCasual.com shares: Molasses has a 1-0-5 NPK ratio while also containing potash, sulfur, and trace minerals. Molasses for years has been used as a nutritional soil amendment, a carbohydrate source to feed and stimulate organisms, and a chelating agent.
Molasses can come in 2 forms. One is in liquid form that can simply be bought at the store. The second is dry molasses which is molasses sprayed on grain residue and dried. But regardless of which form you use blackstrap molasses is the type of molasses with the highest level of sulfur, iron, and micronutrients, which is an excellent for man and soil. via TomatoCasual.com
Purchased unsulphured black strap molasses.
In the Florida Online Journal suggest using of mixtures of urea and blackstrap molasses for control of root-knot nematodes.
The video below shows you how.
The Bottom Line
Natural fertilizer is not new for growing tomatoes. For many years, gardeners relied on synthetic fertilizer, believing it was better than the organic fertilizer.
However, most have come to the realization that the organic gardening methods our grandparents used, made for an ideal and natural solution to fertilize your tomatoes. Try any of the above natural fertilizer to maximize your tomato yield… but always test.