When you start transplanting your tomatoes into the garden bed, you want them to have everything necessary to thrive. Tomatoes are one of those plants that feed heavily on nutrients in the soil throughout the growing season.
Therefore, you need to make sure that they have plenty of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. It’s important to know how much fertilizer per tomato plant you need so that you have enough, and each plant can grow well.
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As you’re preparing the garden beds for the tomato plants, you should perform a soil test to find out what is lacking in the earth. You can then add fertilizer and turn it into the soil to encourage better root establishment, strong flowering, more fruit, and better foliage.
Tomatoes require specific soil conditions to grow well. Make sure that the pH levels are between 6.2 and 6.8. You can find out this information by performing a soil test, and you can buy them from almost anywhere.
If your vegetables have done well in previous years, the soil is probably good enough. However, knowing the exact pH level ensures that you know how to amend it correctly.
Sulfur can be used to lower pH, but ground limestone raises it. Use these amendments to get the right pH level about three months before transplanting your tomatoes.
Right before you plant the tomatoes, add about 2 inches of compost into the topmost 8 inches of soil. That improves soil quality and gives your plants more nutrition.
Slow Release Fertilizers
It’s best to use a slow-release fertilizer, which often comes in granular form. They are designed to release the nutrients more slowly, feeding your transplanted tomatoes for two months or so. This means you don’t have to add more fertilizer for a while.
You want to use a balanced fertilizer because it has a nutrient ratio of 10-10-10 or 8-8-8. What does that mean, though? The fertilizer supplies an equal amount of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorous. Most fertilizers also contain trace minerals, and your tomato plants need that, as well.
However, you’re probably wondering how much fertilizer you need for each plant. In general, you should use ½ cup of fertilizer for each tomato plant. Work that directly into the garden bed right before you add the transplants.
It’s best to incorporate your fertilizer into the first 6 inches of the soil. That way, the nutrients get worked into the root area. Therefore, if you plan to have three tomato plants, you need 1.5 cups of fertilizer in total mixed into the bed.
You don’t need starter fertilizer if you’ve chosen a slow-release product when you transplant the tomatoes. However, a starter solution is beneficial and encourages initial growth while the tomato roots are becoming established in the soil.
When the tomatoes are first put into the garden bed, the roots can’t draw nutrients from the soil very well. They’re in shock because they’ve been planted into a new area, so they need time to adapt.
If you choose to use starter fertilizer, you require 1 cup of water solution for each tomato plant. Therefore, you should use an 8-8-8 slow-release fertilizer, and dissolve ½ pound of it into 5 gallons of water. Make sure it’s room temperature or a bit warmer.
Once you transplant the tomatoes into your garden, add 1 cup of the solution quickly. It’s also possible to buy a starter formula made specifically for tomatoes.
Most gardeners do an either-or here. They use starter fertilizer or slow-release fertilizer directly into the soil. You can choose the one that meets your needs or consider both to give the most nutrients when your tomato plants need it most.
It’s crucial to fertilize your tomato plants correctly when you first transplant them outside. When you do that, you know that they’re getting the nutrients they need to grow and flourish. This also means that they don’t need more fertilizer until the first fruits develop.
Watch your tomato plants carefully each day, going out to the garden to see their progress. Once you start seeing the tomato blossoms, you know that the fruit is soon to follow.
Therefore, you should take this time to fertilize each tomato plant once more. It’s best to use an 8-8-8 fertilizer and ensure that it has a slow-release formula.
You don’t need to mix it with water or anything else. While some of the packages offer shaker systems, it’s best to measure out 2 tablespoons of the fertilizer. Pour it directly around the base of your plant.
Then, you need to work the fertilizer into the soil, about 2 to 3 inches down from the top. Keep the fertilizer about 6 inches away from the stem of the plant. Be very careful that you don’t damage the leaves or stem.
While tomato plants are hardy, they don’t like being beaten up. Therefore, you should be gentle while you work in the fertilizer.
Once you’ve done all that, you should water each plant thoroughly. Remember: each plant requires 2 tablespoons of fertilizer.
Since tomatoes often have a long growing season, be prepared to continue the application of 2 tablespoons of fertilizer every six weeks or so. Depending on your climate and soil, you may need to do it every four weeks. It just depends on your situation and how much fruit you want from the tomatoes.
You should understand that fertilizer spikes are often a go-to for gardeners. It contains the right amount of nutrients, and you just press it into the ground next to your tomato plant. These spikes work very well for maintenance fertilizer but aren’t as great for soil amendments and starting fertilizer.
Everyone knows that fertilizer helps the plants grow better and faster, producing more fruit. However, many people get confused about how much fertilizer they need for each tomato plant.
This guide should help you understand what to do and when. That way, you always have fruitful harvests, bigger tomatoes, and plenty of fruit throughout the season.