bucket of tomatoes and fertilizer

Best Organic Fertilizer For Tomatoes

The Secret Ingredient: Finding the best fertilizer for tomato plants!

There’s something sacred about growing your own organic tomatoes. The smell of those sun-drenched vines, the first blush of ruby red, and that juicy, unrivaled taste when you bite into a homegrown vegetable. It’s an experience that puts store-bought tomatoes to shame.

But, let’s not kid ourselves – growing great organic tomatoes takes some know-how, and using the best organic plant food for tomatoes is a key ingredient. Think of it like choosing the perfect vintage to complement a world-class meal.  The organic tomato fertilizer you select sets the stage for your tomato plants’ journey to deliciousness.

The N-P-K Conundrum

You may have seen bags emblazoned with cryptic numbers like 10-10-10. This is the N-P-K ratio – the Holy Trinity of plant nutrients: nitrogen (N) for leafy growth, phosphorus (P) for roots and blooms, and potassium (K) for overall strength and fruit production.  For organic tomatoes, a balanced start with a fertilizer slightly higher in phosphorus is recommended and an ideal best npk for tomatoes.

A good possible choice tomato fertilizer I found available was Jobe’s Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer Spikes 2-7-4 you can check them out below!


To Go Organic or Not? That Is the Question

“Natural is always best, right?” says Mary Peterson, an urban farmer from Brooklyn. “I swear by compost –  it’s like black gold for my tomatoes. Plus, who needs all those chemicals when nature does it better?”

There’s wisdom in Mary’s words. Organic fertilizers like compost may be slower-acting, but their benefits are undeniable – boosting soil health and supporting the vibrant ecosystem that keeps your plants thriving. However, if your soil needs a more potent kickstart, you might consider a commercial tomato fertilizer for an initial boost. 

What is the best organic fertilizer for tomato plants?

So, which of the best organic fertilizer for tomatoes should you use?  Think of it as less of a one-size-fits-all solution and more like matching the right tomato fertilizer organically to your garden’s needs. Here are a few popular picks:

1. Compost: The King of Organic tomato Fertilizers

Compost, nature’s black gold, is a winner for all reasons. Packed with essential nutrients, it improves soil structure, drainage, and water retention – the perfect recipe for happy tomatoes. Mix aged compost into your planting bed before planting or use it as a top dressing throughout the season.

2. Manure: A Potent Nutrient Booster

Manure, aged and composted from herbivores like cows, horses, or sheep, provides a rich source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – crucial elements for healthy tomato growth. However, be cautious! Fresh manure can burn roots, so ensure it’s fully composted before use. Apply manure sparingly and at least a month before planting organic vegetables.

3. Fish Emulsion: A Nurturing Nitrogen Kick

Fish emulsion, a liquid fertilizer made from processed fish, is a powerful source of readily available nitrogen. This is particularly beneficial during the early stages of growth, promoting strong foliage and stem development. Dilute fish emulsion according to package instructions and apply sparingly at the base of your plants.

4. Seaweed: Ocean’s Treasure for Your Tomatoes

Potassium and phosphorus galore! Seaweed fertilizer unlocks bigger, tastier tomatoes. Spray directly on the leaves for a super-fast nutrient boost and the added bonus of natural growth hormones. Just wash those tomatoes extra well before you savor them. A good choice for Seaweed tomato fertilizer is Organic Kelp Fertilizer by GS Plant Foods

5. Blood Meal: A Slow-Release Nitrogen Powerhouse

Blood meal, derived from slaughterhouse blood, is a slow-release organic nitrogen fertilizer. It’s particularly beneficial for sustained growth and fruit production. However, use it cautiously due to its high nitrogen content. Overapplication can harm plants and attract unwanted pests. Apply sparingly, following package directions, when plants are actively growing.

6. Epsom Salt: A Boost for Magnesium-Hungry Plants

Epsom salt, rich in magnesium, helps prevent blossom end rot, a common tomato ailment. While not technically a fertilizer, it corrects magnesium deficiencies, vital for healthy plant function. Dissolve Epsom salt in water and apply directly to the soil around the base of your plants, following package instructions.


Bonus Tip 1: Compost Tea – Your DIY Growth Elixir

Steep finished compost in water for a supercharged plant drink. Water your tomatoes or spray the leaves and watch them thrive. Want it ready-made? Try Botanicare PURE BLEND TEA for easy-peasy fertilizing goodness.

Bonus Tip 2: The best homemade fertilizer for tomato plants

Let’s be real – there’s a certain thrill in making your own tomato fertilizer. You become an alchemist of the garden, transforming kitchen scraps and everyday items into a potion for tomato greatness. Plus, it’s easy on the wallet and good for the earth. Here’s how to get started:

The DIY Tomato Fertilizer: A Step-by-Step Guide

Recipe #1: The Compost Special

  • Ingredients:
    1. Kitchen scraps (veggie peels, fruit cores, coffee grounds, eggshells, tea bags)
    2. “Brown” materials (leaves, shredded newspaper, straw)
    3. Garden soil (a shovelful)
    4. Water
  • Gear:
    1. Compost bin or pile
    2. Shovel or pitchfork
  • Concocting the Magic:
    1. Layer like a lasagna: Start with “browns,” then add “greens” (kitchen scraps), and sprinkle in some soil. Keep things moist, but not soggy.
    2. Turn, turn, turn: Aerate your compost regularly with your tool of choice. This speeds things up and prevents bad smells.
    3. Patience is key: It takes time! Rich, dark compost is ready in a few months to a year.

Recipe #2: The Quick Boost

  • Ingredients:
    1. Epsom salts (Magnesium sulfate)
    2. Crushed eggshells (Calcium source)
    3. Wood ash (Potassium source)
    4. Bucket or watering can
  • The Formula:
    1. Mix it up: In your bucket, dissolve 1 tablespoon Epsom salts in a gallon of water.
    2. Flavor enhancers: Sprinkle in a handful each of crushed eggshells and wood ash for extra oomph.
  • Application:
    1. Give ’em a drink: Drench the soil around your tomato plants – they’ll soak up the nutrients directly.
    2. Monthly treat: Repeat this fertilizer tea every month or so during the growing season.

Extra Tips:

  • Hair today, nutrients tomorrow: Pet and human hair breaks down slowly, releasing nitrogen into the soil (toss a handful into your compost!)
  • Banana peels: Bury chopped banana peels near your plants – they love the potassium boost.
  • Coffee power: Used coffee grounds add acidity and nutrients. Sprinkle sparingly around acid-loving tomatoes.

Important Note: Even homemade fertilizers can overdo it. Start with less than you think you need, and observe your tomato plants closely. Healthy, lush growth is a good sign, while yellowing or burnt leaves may indicate too many nutrients.

So, how and when do you go about fertilizing your tomatoes properly?

Picture your tomato plants as hungry athletes. They need the right type of fuel at the right time to perform their best.  Here’s a breakdown of when to feed your tomato plants for optimal results:

Stage 1: Prepping the Soil

  • What to Use: Aged compost or a balanced organic fertilizer (5-10-5 is a good starting point)
  • How to Apply: Work it into the soil thoroughly a week or two before planting your seedlings. This gives those nutrients time to integrate and get ready for those hungry roots.

Stage 2: The Planting Boost

  • What to Use: Fertilizer higher in phosphorus (the second number in the N-P-K ratio). Options include bone meal or a fertilizer with a ratio like 2-5-3.
  • How to Apply: Sprinkle a bit into the bottom of the planting hole. Be careful to avoid direct root contact, as you could burn your seedlings.

Stage 3: The Growth Spurt

  • What to Use: A balanced fertilizer (10-10-10), or one slightly lower in nitrogen (N) to avoid excessive leafy growth that might outpace fruit production.
  • How to Apply: A couple of weeks after planting, side-dress your plants. This means sprinkling fertilizer in a circle about 6 inches away from the stem and gently working it into the soil. Water thoroughly.

Stage 4: Fruit Frenzy

  • What to Use: Switch to a fertilizer with higher potassium (K), such as a 5-10-10. This boosts flowering and fruit production. Compost tea or liquid seaweed fertilizer are also excellent options.
  • How to Apply: Continue the side-dressing routine every few weeks. Supplement with occasional foliar feeding (spraying diluted fertilizer directly on the leaves) for a quick nutrient fix.

Important Tips

  • Read the label: Fertilizer instructions vary – always follow the guidelines on your chosen product.
  • Water first, fertilize second: Fertilize on damp soil to avoid root burn. A good watering beforehand is key.
  • Less is more: Seriously! Overfertilization does more harm than good.
  • Watch your plants: They’ll tell you how they’re feeling. Lush, green leaves are good. Yellowing, wilting, or stunted growth means something’s not quite right.

A Note on Container Tomatoes:

Container tomatoes need more frequent feeding due to limited soil volume.  Use a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks or choose a slow-release fertilizer formulated for containers.

Other Questions Asked:

Q: What is the best organic liquid fertilizer for tomatoes?

A: Check the list of fertilizers above for instance: Compost Tea, Seaweed (Kelp) Extract, Fish Emulsion, Worm Castings Tea, Commercial Blends…

Q: What is the best manure for tomatoes?

A: While several types of manure can be beneficial for tomatoes, some stand out as top choices: Cow manure, Horse manure, Chicken manure, Sheep or Goat manure…

Final Thoughts

Remember, the key to success lies in understanding your soil and tailoring your approach accordingly. Conduct a soil test to identify any deficiencies and use organic fertilizers strategically to nurture your tomato plants and enjoy a harvest of delicious, homegrown tomatoes! 😊

A good possible choice tomato fertilizer I found available was Jobe’s Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer Spikes 2-7-4 or try Botanicare PURE BLEND TEA for easy-peasy fertilizing goodness.

And there you have it! With these tips, you’ll be feeding your tomato plants with finesse. Get ready for a bumper crop of delicious, homegrown goodness! 

Further Reading:

25 General Hydroponic Gardening Tips for Beginners

Our beginners guide to indoor plants

5 Organic Gardening Tips for Beginners

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