Yes, you can fertilize your tomatoes too much, but it should be noted that the excessive use of chemical fertilizer (NPK) harms not only your vegetables; it also reduces their productivity.
Nitrogen fertilizer encourages foliage growth at the expense of fruit. Tomato vines need all the energy they can get to produce fruits, so if their leaves are loaded with nitrogen, this means that it is harder for flowers and therefore fruits to develop.
Fertilizing tomato plants provides them with nutrients that help them to grow healthy and strong. Although there are many ways of applying these nutrients, too much will have an opposite effect compared to not giving enough.
Tomatoes are a very rewarding plant to grow in the garden. They are relatively low maintenance and they produce an abundance of food that can be used fresh or processed.
One of the most common questions new tomato gardeners have is “how often should I fertilize my tomatoes?”
The answer to this question depends on several factors. What type of fertilizer you use, how much you use, when you apply it and even the types of soil your plants are growing in will affect how often you need to fertilize your tomatoes. Read on for some tips about fertilizing tomatoes.
An easy way to tell if your plant has been overfed is to look at its stems. Tomatoes should have a thick, strong stem with a slightly darker color than the foliage. If the stem appears weak and spindly, it will eventually fall over because it can no longer support itself.
The plant may also appear to be growing slowly especially in the flowering stage where plants need all the energy they can get to produce fruit.
If you suspect that your tomatoes are malnourished, take a good look at their leaves as well as the soil around them for signs of nitrogen burn. Some gardeners recommend turning up one or two inches of soil around your tomato plants every month to see if there’s too much fertilizer in the area.
Here are some other symptoms of nutrient deficiency:
- Pale or yellowish leaves (this can also be a sign of calcium deficiency which you should fix immediately)
- White spots & patches on full-grown leaves
- Tall, spindly plants with limbs that are larger than the trunk
Fertilizing Tomatoes – How Often?
The first step is finding out what kind of fertilizer is best suited for your needs. There are many types of tomato fertilizers on the market. T
hey come in different formulations and serve different purposes. Some are made especially for an abundant harvest while others are better suited to creating healthy plants that resist disease.
There are organic fertilizers available if you prefer a product that is derived from natural sources. If you have a smaller garden, liquid fertilizers may be more convenient than a dry formula because they can be applied with a sprayer.
Many home gardeners find it’s best to use a combination of both liquid and solid fertilizer. This gives plants access to nutrients throughout their growth cycle rather than just at one specific time period.
When applying your fertilizer, remember that tomatoes need more nitrogen than any other nutrient during their growing phase between transplanting and fruit development.
Water-soluble fertilizers are convenient at this time because you can apply them when your plants are actively growing without worrying about burning the plant’s roots. Slow-release formulas may be more suitable later in the summer since they won’t get washed away with heavy watering or rain.
Organic materials, such as compost will give tomatoes an extra boost of nutrients while also improving the soil structure so it holds moisture better. Some gardeners find that adding mulch helps keep moisture levels up around their tomato plants. This technique is especially beneficial if you have very hot summers and limited rainfall.
Once your tomatoes start producing fruit, you’ll need to shift to a different fertilizer. Fertilizer spikes are good for this stage of growth because they deliver just enough nitrogen to promote healthy growth without making the plants overly susceptible to heavy rains and high humidity.
It’s also a good idea to add a calcium supplement at this time because it will improve blossom set, fruit development, and disease resistance.
Fertilizing tomatoes too much can lead to plant burn which causes browning or blackening of leaves at the stem ends. If you notice these signs, cut back on your fertilizer applications until your tomato plants are growing vigorously again.
Just follow these simple steps for healthy, delicious tomatoes time:
1). Find a spot in your garden where the soil is fertile and full of nutrients. This will be the place where you plant your tomatoes.
2). Dig a hole with a shovel or trowel about 15cm/6 inches deep.
3) Put some organic compost into the hole, at least 10 cm thick.
4). Mix it gently with the surrounding soil using your hands or a hoe, then pour warm water over it to make sure that there are no air pockets left in it. You also have to level up the soil so it’s an even surface.
5). Now all you have to do is plant your tomato seedlings
Just put it into its new home, press around it lightly so they can go deep into the soil, and give them a gentle shower.
6). To be sure that it’s doing well, you can use stakes or cages made of wood or iron (not plastic!) to protect your plant from animals like rabbits, deer, etc.
If you don’t want these animals near your garden then we also have an additional guide for protecting your plants from wildlife.
Fertilizing tomatoes is easy once you know what type of fertilizer to use, when to apply it, and how much. This knowledge ensures that your plants produce plenty of ripe delicious fruit for home use or for sharing with friends and family.
If your tomato plant falls over, carefully prop it up using a wooden stake. Remove all yellow leaves from the plant as well as those around the floor so they don’t rot and spread the fungus.
Leave only healthy green foliage to continue producing energy for your plant. There’s no need to fertilize again until signs of growth start to appear in early summer.
Simply follow these steps and by next summer your tomatoes will yield bountifully:
1). Fertilize often
Tomatoes are heavy feeders and should receive fertilizer at least once a month from spring to fall. If you’re only fertilizing every two or three months, then stop reading now and just go buy some Miracle Grow.
You obviously don’t care about big tomatoes. If however, giving plants something nutritious to eat on a regular basis sounds enjoyable, spending money on nice things instead of buying boring stuff like food and clothing sounds fun to you; then please read on.
2). Pinch your plant
Pinch back all blossoms and side branches in the spring to make the plant put its energy in one place: a huge, fat fruit that will give your bragging rights a mighty boost when summer comes.
3). Water regularly
Tomatoes take longer to ripen if they’re stressed by lack of water (and remember, even though it’s called “drought stress,” tomatoes can still die from overwatering).
If you’ll be out of town for a few days during the prime ripening season, give each plant about six gallons of water before leaving, so they don’t feel abandoned. This is especially important if you have an older variety of tomato that doesn’t produce as heavily as the new hybrid indestructible.
4). Grow your plant in full sun
Tomatoes get really cranky when they don’t get enough sunshine. If you live in an area with six hours of bright sunlight, then stake tall cages around the plants so they’ll produce lots of side branches to pick later on.
5). Pick all tomatoes green
Letting a few fully ripened fruit fall off naturally each week won’t hurt your plant. In fact, this is a good way to thin out overcrowded clusters and prevent the disease from spreading from overripe fruit laying on the ground where bugs can use it as a tourist destination for their next family vacation brochure. No one wants to see that.
6). Never, ever use a tomato cage
What? You don’t like the way cages look and you’re worried they’ll take up too much space in your living room? Well, how about this: no fruit! That’s right.
If you use cages, all that precious energy the plant could use for tomatoes goes instead into growing more branches that won’t bear fruit because their flowers are always pinched off to make the mother plant stronger.
Be careful not to fertilize too much though because it could have dire consequences which you might not discover until next year when they’re already fruit-bearing.
Apply a diluted solution of liquid fertilizer if you do decide to fertilize or sprinkle organic tomato fertilizer around the base of your plant.
Keep the foliage dry at all times and avoid getting it wet because this will only make matters worse.