Grow Your Tomatoes
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Tomato fertilizersWhen it comes to the garden, I'm not big on using fertilizers. Tilling in good organic matter during the autumn will provide some good nutrients for the following year.
However, there are many fertilizers, both organic and inorganic, that are formulated specifically for tomatoes.
Slow-release fertilized potting mixMiracle Gro Potting Mix. Let me start here - this is my preferred growing medium for tomato seedlings. It feeds plants with slow-release fertilizer up to 3 months - more than enough time to grow your seedlings before planting them in the garden. I have gotten the best-looking seedlings when I grow them in this mix. It's not organic, but if you'll be planting the tomatoes in the garden, they won't be growing in it for too long.
I sow my seeds in non-fertilized seed starting mix, and when they are showing true leaves, I put them straight into cups with this Miracle Gro mix. Within just a few days, the growth is noticeable.
N-P-KI will mainly discuss macronutrients, the three most important nutrients to a plant. Micronutrients can be found as well in both organic and inorganic fertilizers, and are not needed in such large amounts.
Nitrogen (N) - promotes foliar growth and lush plants. Don't use too much nitrogen on mature tomato plants, or you will get more leaves and fewer fruit.
Phosphorus (P) - promotes more blossoms, strong roots, and strong stems.
Potassium (K) - promotes good blossoms and fruit growth, healty plants, and good roots.
Inorganic fertilizersThese are some water-soluble fertilizers that are dissolved in water before feeding to plants.
Miracle Gro All-Purpose Plant Food - Good to feed young seedlings if they are not already growing in slow-release fertilizer. Since this is high in nitrogen, I don't recommend feeding it to mature tomato plants, because you will get fewer fruits and more leaves.
Miracle Gro Tomato Food - This is what you might feed the tomatoes in the garden. This is higher in phosphorus and potassium, which will promote more blossoms and fruit production.
Both Miracle Gro fertilizers mentioned above come with micronutrients that are also necessary for plant growth.
Organic fertilizersCompost. Learn how to compost your organic waste to make a very rich additive to your garden soil. It will improve drainage, water retention, and nutrient levels in your garden without the need to add other fertilizers.
Below I list several organic sources of nutrients for plants. These take time to break down in the soil and release their nutrients, so they act as natural slow-release fertilizers.
Bonemeal - great source of phosphorus.
Burned bone - very high phosphorus content.
Blood meal - good source of nitrogen.
Fish scraps - some nitrogen and phosphorus
Seaweed - some potassium and small amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus
Wood ash - source of potassium
Manure - varies among different animals, mainly a source of nitrogen
Soil pHIt might be important to get a soil pH test kit for your garden. Tomatoes like to grow in soil that has a pH of 6-7.0 (slightly acidic). If your soil is too acidic (lower pH), work in some ground limestone or wood ash a couple months before planting. If it is too alkaline (higher pH), add some sulfur.
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