- 🍅 Bone meal and rock phosphate provide phosphorus for flowering
- 🌿 Compost and kelp improve soil health and plant vitality
- 💧 Liquid fertilizers like fish emulsion act quickly to boost growth
- 🧪 Compost teas inoculate the soil with beneficial microbes
- ⏳ Dry organic fertilizers provide sustained nutrient release
- 📈 Fertilize tomatoes every 2-3 weeks throughout the season
- 🏺 Target different growth stages with specialized organic fertilizers
- 🔁 Alternate fertilizer types to ensure balanced nutrition
- 🍃 Foliar sprays deliver immediate nutrient absorption
- 🥕 Proper fertilization improves tomato yield and nutrition
10 Organic Fertilizers Best Suited For Tomatoes
Comparison Of 10 Organic Fertilizers For Tomatoes:
|Bone Meal||Excellent phosphorus source; steady, slow-release nutrition||Can burn plants if over-applied; lacks nitrogen|
|Rock Phosphate||Long-lasting phosphorus; also supplies calcium and micronutrients||Slower to break down; doesn’t provide nitrogen|
|Greensand||Provides potassium, iron, magnesium and trace elements||Very slow nutrient release; low nitrogen and phosphorus|
|Fish Emulsion||Fast nitrogen and micronutrient boost; foliar feeding||Nutrients wash out quickly; needs frequent reapplication|
|Liquid Kelp||Broad spectrum of minerals and growth promoters; boosts fruit quality||Lower nutrient levels than fish emulsion; short-lived response|
|Worm Castings Tea||Inoculates soil with beneficial bacteria; living nutrition||Labor intensive; lower nutrients than dry castings|
|Compost Tea||Diverse nutrients and microbiome diversity||Difficult to ensure compost quality; aeration challenges|
|Manure Tea||Soluble nutrients from composted manure; foliar feeding||Odor; contamination risk if manure not aged enough|
|Alfalfa Meal||Natural nitrogen source; some phosphorus and potassium||Potential to burn plants; not a complete fertilizer|
|Bat Guano||Fast nitrogen jolt; also supplies phosphorus||Strong odor; high burn risk if over-applied|
Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables grown in home gardens. They require proper nutrition to yield bountiful, flavorful harvests. Using organic fertilizers is an eco-friendly way to provide tomatoes with the nutrients they need without chemicals.
When carefully selected and applied, organic fertilizers improve soil health and slowly release nutrients that tomatoes can absorb over time. They enhance the soil with beneficial microbes and minerals for better moisture retentivity, aeration, and healthy rhizosphere activity.
Below are 10 organic fertilizers best suited for nurturing tomatoes from planting to fruiting:
1. Bone Meal
Bone meal provides phosphorous, an integral nutrient for root, flower, and fruit development. Made from ground animal bones, bone meal’s phosphorus is released steadily as bones decompose.
Work 1-2 tablespoons of bone meal per square foot into planting beds before sowing seeds or transplanting seedlings. Mix thoroughly into the top 6 inches of soil. Then, side-dress actively growing plants every 2-3 weeks with one tablespoon.
Applying too much bone meal too frequently can burn plants. Follow package instructions for proper application rates.
2. Rock Phosphate
Rock phosphate is a powdered rock mineral that provides long-term phosphorus release. It is slower-acting but more complete than bone meal, delivering calcium and micronutrients alongside phosphorus.
Mix it into soil 2-4 weeks before planting at a rate of 5 lbs per 100 square feet. Rock phosphate remains effective for up to 3 years.
It facilitates strong root growth and efficient phosphorus metabolism. Deficient or compacted soils benefit greatly from rock phosphate applications.
Greensand provides potassium, iron, magnesium, and trace minerals. It is formed from fossilized marine organisms and seabed sediments. Greensand’s nutrients are liberated slowly as particles weather and break down over months.
It aids plant metabolic functions and improves fruit quality. Work greensand into planting beds at 5 lbs per 100 square feet. Folding it into compost piles is an easy way to incorporate greensand.
4. Fish Emulsion
Fish emulsion is made from fish waste like bones, tissues, and oils. It provides a quick burst of nitrogen and micronutrients. Fish emulsion is suitable for soil drenches, seed soaks, and foliar sprays. Always dilute per instructions.
Foliar feed tomato transplants after transplant and again 10-14 days later with a diluted fish emulsion spray. Soak seeds in diluted fish emulsion before sowing.
Fish emulsion is quick-acting but does not provide sustained nutrition. Pair it with slow-release amendments.
5. Liquid Kelp Extract
Kelp extract supplies over 60 trace minerals, plant hormones, amino acids, and vitamins that support cell growth and stress tolerance. It is made by blending and fermenting fresh sea kelp.
Use kelp extract to condition soil and soak seeds a few days before transplanting. Once a month after transplanting, drench roots and spray leaves with diluted kelp extract. Combine it with fish emulsion for a nutrient-dense foliar feed.
Kelp strengthens stems and ripens fruit. It boosts the flavor, nutritional value, and shelf life of tomatoes.
6. Worm Castings Tea
Worm casting tea offers living nutrition from worm manure steeped in water. Castings contain beneficial soil microbes that form symbiotic relationships with plant roots, increasing access to nutrients.
To make the tea, fill a bucket with 1 cup worm castings per gallon of water. Add some compost and molasses to feed microbes. Aerate the mixture for 24-48 hours. Strain and dilute by half before applying.
Use casting tea to water plants every 2-3 weeks from transplant through harvest. Spray diluted tea on leaves once a month. Castings directly around plants also provide sustained nutrition.
7. Compost Tea
Compost tea is made by steeping quality finished compost in water to extract beneficial microbes, humic acids, and soluble nutrients that plants can immediately absorb and utilize.
Fill a bucket with 1 cup compost per gallon of water. Provide an energy source like molasses to feed microbes. Aerate for 48 hours, then strain and dilute by half before applying.
Use compost tea to soak seeds or roots at transplant and as a monthly foliar spray during the growing season for a nutritional boost. Side-dress plants with dry compost to enable steady nutrient release.
8. Manure Tea
Manure tea provides soluble nutrients from composted animal manures like cow, horse, rabbit, or llama. Cow and horse manures tend to be higher in nitrogen, while rabbit and llama manures offer more phosphorus.
Fill a bucket with 1 cup manure per gallon of water. Add a nitrogen source like grass clippings and aerate the mixture for 48 hours. Dilute the strained tea 1:1 with water.
Apply manure tea monthly to condition soil and supply nutrients. Use it to soak transplants for a vitality boost before planting. Alternate manure types to vary the nutritional profile.
9. Alfalfa Meal
Alfalfa meal is made from dried, ground alfalfa plants. It provides nitrogen and trace minerals that promote lush, green growth, and abundant fruiting.
Mix alfalfa meal into planting beds at a ratio of 1 cup per 10 square feet. Alfalfa meal can burn plants if over-applied. Follow package instructions for rates. Replenish beds each season with 1/2 cup alfalfa meal per plant.
You can also brew alfalfa tea to use as a foliar spray. Soak 1 cup of alfalfa meal per gallon of water for 24 hours before straining and spraying onto plants.
10. Bat Guano
Bat guano comes from bat manure accumulations in caves. It provides nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and beneficial bacteria. Bat guano tea is perfect for spraying plants or soaking roots when transplanting.
To make the tea, add 1 cup of bat guano to a bucket of water. Let sit for 48 hours, stirring occasionally. Strain and dilute the tea 1:1 before applying. Use within 48 hours on actively growing plants.
Bat guano provides fast-acting nutrients to spur growth during peak fruit production. Use it sparingly according to package directions to prevent burning plants.
Overview of Top Organic Tomato Fertilizers
The fertilizers covered above provide a balanced nutritional profile to meet tomato requirements through every stage of growth. Select 2-3 to combine over a season:
- Pre-Plant: Bone meal, rock phosphate, alfalfa meal, greensand
- Transplanting: Compost, worm castings, kelp extract, fish emulsion
- Early Growth: Manure tea, compost tea, kelp extract
- Flower & Fruiting: Liquid kelp, fish emulsion, bat guano
- Overall Season: Worm castings, compost, rock phosphate
Focus on boosting phosphorus levels before planting and prior to flowering and fruiting. Kelp, composts, and manures supply a diverse blend of nutrients.
Alternate fertilizers over the season to provide well-rounded nutrition. Always follow label instructions to avoid burning plants with over-application.
When it comes to growing incredible tomatoes, you can never go wrong focusing first on building healthy soil life and structure with organic amendments. Then, utilize organic fertilizers to enhance soil fertility and target plants’ nutritional needs at key growth stages.
Conclusion: Organic Fertilizers For Tomatoes
Organic fertilizers tailored to each growth phase help ensure tomatoes get the specialized nutrition they need throughout the season. Dry amendments like bone meal and rock phosphate provide slow-release phosphorus to aid flowering and fruiting.
Liquid fertilizers like fish emulsion and kelp extract offer quick bursts when rapid growth requires more nutrients. Nutrient-dense compost teas sustain plants and stimulate beneficial soil biology.
By understanding tomato nutritional requirements and pairing suitable organic fertilizers, gardeners can cultivate truly impressive harvests. A little planning goes a long way when it comes to feeding tomatoes the right fertilizers at the right times.
The organic options covered above will help any tomato grower succeed in coaxing the most abundant, flavorful, and nutritious fruits possible from each plant.
FAQs About Organic Fertilizers For Tomatoes
What are the benefits of using organic fertilizers?
Organic fertilizers feed plants while improving soil health. They enhance soil micronutrients, beneficial bacteria, and moisture retention. Organic fertilizers break down slowly, providing plants with sustained nutrition.
When should I fertilize my tomato plants?
Fertilize tomatoes before planting, at transplant, and every 2-3 weeks during the growing season. Target key growth stages like flowering and fruiting.
How often should I use liquid organic fertilizers?
Liquid organic fertilizers like fish emulsion and kelp extract provide quick nutrition but don’t last. Use them once a month to give plants a nutrient boost.
What organic fertilizer is best for blossom drop?
Phosphorus aids flowering and fruit set. Bone meal and rock phosphate prevent blossom drop by steadily supplying phosphorus.
What organic fertilizer is the fastest acting?
Liquid fish emulsion and compost teas offer the quickest nutrient absorption and growth response. They provide an immediate nutritional boost.
Is manure tea safe for tomato plants?
Yes, when made properly from aged composted manure. Dilute manure tea by half before fertilizing to avoid burning plants with excess nitrogen.
Can I use too much organic fertilizer?
Yes, over-fertilizing can burn plants. Always follow package directions and don’t overdo bone meal, manure, and nitrogen sources like bat guano.
How do I apply dry organic fertilizers?
Mix dry amendments into the soil before planting. Side-dress growing plants by sprinkling fertilizer around drip lines and watering it into the soil.
Should I spray or water in liquid organic fertilizers?
Foliar spray liquid fertilizers provide quick nutrient absorption through leaves. Water them into the soil for slower root uptake.
How can I boost tomato flavor with organic fertilizers?
Kelp, fish emulsion, and worm castings provide minerals, amino acids, and micronutrients that enhance tomato flavor.