As much as a plant need light and water, there is another thing they may require, and that is fertilizers or plant food.
Tomatoes are known to be heavy feeders during the growing season. However, when you have seedlings, you may want to help give them a healthy boost to get the growth off to a good start.
The issue is, time is as vital as the fertilizer you use for your tomato plant, so in this guide, you can learn all you need to know. (Learn What is a Determinate Tomato Plant)
By the end of this guide, you will learn which fertilizer for tomato seedlings is best, and when to fertilize your tomato seedlings to offer the best growth.
When Should I Fertilize My Seedlings?
Like many plants, on your tomato plant, from the seed, you can see the first set of leaves starting to appear. The first sets of leaves are called cotyledons, and to feed these, all the required nutrients are stored inside the seed for them to grow. (Read Soil For Tomatoes)
However, once the second set of true leaves appear, you can then begin to start feeding the seedlings with a solution of diluted fertilizer.
It is essential you mix at a maximum of half strength and then apply twice per week. You can maintain this feeding schedule until you transplant it into your garden.
When Should I Start Fertilizing My Tomato Plants?
Tomatoes are quite hardy, and in the most, they are great to grow when you are starting out.
However, you do need to be sure they have the right soil conditions, the right amount of water and the best fertilizer to help make your fruits large and full of flavor.
You will find the success of a homegrown tomato, relies on fertilizer and the timing of application more than anything else.
Not enough, and at the wrong time, you will lose the abundance of fruits. Too much fertilizer and you could face low fruit yields or quality. (Learn about Compost for Tomatoes)
Before you bring out your seedlings, you need to prepare the area in the spring. Experts often recommend you add 3 pounds of a complete fertilizer, and till this into the soil to depths of 12-inches. (Learn How Far Apart to Plant Tomatoes)
Doing this means there is lots of nutrition in the soil from the surface to the root system. When you begin to see fruits the size of small balls, you can add lighter applications of fertilizer.
How Often Should I Feed My Tomato Seedlings?
It is often the question of what to feed a tomato plant as not all fertilizers are suitable. At first, you need one that offers the full N, P, K ratio to deliver significant growth.
An all-purpose soluble fertilizer as a liquid fertilizer is best suited for this practice, and preferably organic fertilizers are best.
Whichever of the organic fertilizers you select, it does need to offer plenty of Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous, however, make sure it isn’t packed with nitrogen as too much can lead to a tall green tomato plant with little fruit growth.
Once you begin to see fruits on your plant, you can start to fertilize regularly. Liquid fertilizer is best for this as you have greater control over what you can give them.
You will need to add this liquid fertilizer around your plants and making sure not to spill it on the leaves. An area around 6-inches from the base of your plant means the roots can reach out to absorb the nutrients.
Use your fertilizer every two weeks right up to the end of the harvest period.
One tip is to water before you add any organic fertilizer, as this means your plants won’t be just sucking up large amounts of organic nitrogen and phosphorous rather than pure water as they are growing. (Learn How to Grow a Lemon Tree From a Seed)
Can You Use Miracle-Gro on Tomato Seedlings?
Miracle-Gro is a water-soluble fertilizer; however, there are different versions available, and the manufacturer produces one specifically for growing tomatoes.
You will find the formula contains a high level of nitrogen (24-8-16). Because this level of nitrogen can reduce fruits, you need to get a soil test to see if your soil is lacking. You can get a home test kit to make this easy and quick. (Read Are Sprouting Potatoes Ok To Eat)
To be safe and make sure you keep your plants well-fed with the right food, you can use an organic variety.
With these, they are better as they contain all your plants need and you won’t harm your plants as much if you add too much fertilizer of a synthetic fertilizer type.
Such a fertilizing mix can comprise fish emulsion and other beneficial compounds, and others are strictly made from plant-based products. Once you get results from a soil test, you could find you need low nitrogen yet higher phosphorous level fertilizer
Fertilizing Basics for Tomatoes
When you have tomato in your garden, the levels of fertilization depends on their stage of growth.
While they need all the nutrients, the levels of each will vary at each stage of growth.
Light levels for tomato gardening need to be high and will vary depending on your location. Greenhouse to outdoors, or with grow lights indoors.
In many cases, tomato plant roots are no deeper than 6 to 7 inches deep. When you mix fertilizer in the soil, make sure not to mix them too deep.
- Phosphorous – Vital for growth and development of roots and fruit. It is important as seedlings and also when you come to harvest.
- Nitrogen – Important for foliage – too much of these nutrients and you lose your fruits.
- Potassium – Helps your tomatoes grow fast and helps produce flowers and fruits. It is one of the most important for photosynthesis and disease tolerance.
Gardening can be fun for all vegetables, yet once you have the right light, the right water and every other condition is met for gardening tomatoes, it is one of the most rewarding food options you can grow.