Introduction: Organic fertilizers are made up of materials that are naturally-occurring plant or mineral matter. Inorganic fertilizers are chemically synthesized byproducts of the petroleum industry. Organic tomato fertilizer whose main function is to provide nutrients under organic forms from organic materials of plant and animal origin.
A step by step guide to the best organic tomato fertilizer
Organic fertilizers are primarily cost-effective, easily obtainable from locality products than chemical fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are derived from biological materials or living materials. These fertilizers take a longer time to discharge the nutrient in the soil.
Organic fertilizers come in the different forms that are;
- Manure mainly derived from livestock such as cows, chickens, goats, and others.
- Green manure which is obtained from young plants, particularly different type of legumes.
- Compost derived from agricultural that is waste organic material for example straw, corn stalks or decomposed waste.
Advantages of organic tomato fertilizer
Some of the advantages for the gardener to using organic tomato fertilizer are given below;
- Improves the soil long-term by helping organic matter break down Contains trace nutrients, rather than just the top three major nutrients that are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium.
- Releases major nutrients gradually and lasts longer in soil.
- Available in both granular form and liquid (fish emulsion) forms.
- Organic tomato fertilizers increase the quality and yield of crops in ways similar to inorganic fertilizers; however, it does not cause environmental pollution.
- The advantages of organic fertilizers include improved soil texture, water retention and resistance to erosion.
- Organic fertilizers provide nitrogen in a usable form, which will help the plant to develop plant growth while at the same time neither cause the burning of roots nor destroying beneficial micro-organisms in the soil.
- Organic fertilizers help to prevent diseases by meeting the plants ‘nutritional needs and enhancing plant tolerance and this action removes a serious source of stress.
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How organic-based fertilizers work
Healthy, homegrown tomatoes mainly depend on fertilizer. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and require plenty of nutrients. If you don’t fertilize your plants, tomatoes won’t be as abundant. However, too much fertilizer can affect poor fruit production, so knowing how often to fertilize your plants is critical.
First, apply an organic fertilizer to tomato plants when preparing the bed for planting in the spring, which should be tilled to a depth of 12 inches. This will ensure that your beds are chock-full of nutrition, an essential stage in growing healthy tomatoes.
The use of organic-based fertilizers in sustainable agriculture benefits farmers, growers, consumers, and the environment in several ways. As empirically demonstrated, organic-based fertilizers help to;
- Boost nutrient efficiency and organic matter content in the soil;
- Nurture the soil with organic matter that reduces chemical inputs;
- Restore and maintain soil fertility to plant growth;
- Boost the efficiency of water use to crops more resilient and drought-resistant;
- Decrease the impact of farming and safeguard ecosystems by minimizing leaching;
- Enhance the biological and biodiversity of soils;
- Enhance the quality attributes of produce as well as crop yield;
- Improve the efficiency of nutrient use to generate more robust crops;
- Facilitate the slow release of nutrients in response to the dynamic needs of tomato plants;
- Enhance crop resistance to soil erosion by improving the soil’s organic matter content.
- Improve the efficiency of a resource by using incorporating natural raw materials.
When to use tomato plant fertilizers
Tomatoes must be first fertilized when you plant them in the garden. You can then wait until the plants set fruit to start fertilizing again. After the tomato plants start growing fruit, add light fertilizer once every one to two weeks until the first frost kills the tomato plant.
How to Fertilize Tomatoes
When fertilizing tomatoes while planting, mix the tomato plant organic fertilizer in with the soil at the bottom of the planting hole, and then place some unfertilized soil on top of this before placing the plant into the hole. If raw fertilizer comes in contact with the roots of the plant, it can burn the plant. When fertilizing tomato plants after the fruit has set, first make sure the plant is watered well. If the tomato plant isn’t watered well before being fertilized, it can take up too much fertilizer and burn the tomato plant. After watering, spread the fertilizer on the ground starting about 6 inches from the base of the plant. Fertilizing too close to the tomato plant can affect fertilizer running off onto the stem and burning the tomato plant.
Fertilizer nutrient balance to choose for tomatoes
Nitrogen – Nitrogen encourages leaf growth, which is why fertilizers with a higher ratio of nitrogen (the first of the three numbers) are an optimum option for lawns and grasses. But in tomato plants, excess leaf growth discourages blossoms and fruit.
A complete fertilizer with a balanced supply of the three main nutrients, such as 10-10-10 or 5-10-10, is a better choice for tomato plants at initial planting time. Stay away from high-nitrogen fertilizers for example urea, ammonium sulfate or fresh manure, which will help produce dark green, tall tomato plants but fewer tomatoes.
Phosphorus – Phosphorus (the second number in the N-P-K ratio) encourages flowering, and therefore tomato fruiting.
Potassium – Once a tomato plant starts flowering, it wants a higher ratio of potassium (the third number in the N-P-K ratio). Good organic sources of potassium in tomato plants are granite dust and wood ash.
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Examples of best organic tomato fertilizers
Some of the best organic tomato fertilizers are given below;
Compost is a pure organic matter packed with the necessary nutrients. Compost adds all the basic nutrients your tomato plants need, along with macronutrients and micronutrients that are usually missing from synthetic fertilizers. Compost releases its components slowly during the growing season, providing long-lasting nutrition. Compost not only feeds your tomato plants, but it also neutralizes the soil, but it also helps the soil retain water and nutrients, and adds helpful microorganisms to your garden.
Tomato Tone is organic fertilizer and contains calcium, magnesium, sulfur and trace nutrients. It contains a blend of beneficial microbes. Tomato-tone mainly contains 3% nitrogen, 4% phosphate, and 6% soluble potash. This is a perfect combination for growing tomato plants, but that’s not all. Tomato-tone has 5% calcium which helps prevent blossom end rot, 1% magnesium, and 3% sulfur.
Bone meal is a great way to use organic fertilizers while at the same time ensures that tomato plants have sufficient phosphorous to produce strong roots (which aid the production of fruit). Bone meal organic fertilizer is often used by organic gardeners to add phosphorus to garden soil.
Tomato plants thrive when grown in nutrient-rich, organic soils and require adequate phosphorus to produce quality fruit. When used properly, the bone meal can help maintain vigorous tomato plants. But using bone meal can present some level of risk, especially if you use too much or if you use it when the soil doesn’t need it.
Wood ash (good potassium source)
Wood ash has a high potassium carbonate content, which makes it an excellent choice as a fertilizer. Wood ash is valuable for neutralizing acidic soil. Conduct a soil test to find the soil acidity levels. The main benefit of wood ash fertilizer in the soil is to raise the soil pH or make it less acid.
Organic Cottonseed Meal
Cottonseed meal is a good choice as an organic tomato fertilizer that can be mixed into your soil at the time of planting. It mainly contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in about a 6-2-1 ratio; its nitrogen supports leafy growth early in the young tomato plants’ growth cycle. Nutrients in cottonseed meal are released slowly and last about 4 months. Cottonseed meal fertilizer contains other important elements, including calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and copper, and also provides trace elements such as manganese, molybdenum, and zinc. Cottonseed meal is an ideal natural fertilizer that can be added as an organic soil amendment at the time of transplanting seedlings.
Feather Meal must be incorporated into soils before planting or side dressed throughout the growing season to provide a steady release of nitrogen nutrient essential for optimum plant growth.
Feather Meal is an organic fertilizer made of processed poultry feathers. This is perfect for plants requiring a consistent supply of nitrogen. Feather Meal fertilizer is comprised of processed chicken feathers that have been thoroughly cleaned, heated with steam, and ground up into organic fertilizer mulch.
Blood meal fertilizer is dried, powdered blood collected from cattle slaughterhouses. It’s such a rich source of nitrogen that gardeners have to be careful not to over-apply and burn the roots of their tomato plants. Apply blood meal fertilizer just before planting to stimulate green leafy growth.
Blood Meal provides the main nitrogen component of our fertilizer mix. This fertilizer is water-soluble and can be used as a liquid fertilizer. Blood meal will make your soil more acidic, lowering the pH value.
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Fish Meal is a high nutrient, organic fertilizer with mainly nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio (N-P-K) of 10-2-2. Anytime is best to build your soil, but Fish Meal is most efficient when applied in fall, winter, or early spring to condition the soil.
Alfalfa meal (good nitrogen source)
Alfalfa meal fertilizer is a very excellent product for use in organic gardening. Alfalfa is an excellent complete NPK fertilizer and has loads of helpful hormones and micronutrients. Tomatoes planted in cow manure-enriched soil and dressed with alfalfa mulch are spoiled (in a good way) tomatoes indeed. It’s an all-natural substance that gives a tremendous boost to blooming plants.
The trace elements found in the alfalfa meal give added nutrition that helps flowering shrubs and perennials to bloom more quickly and maintain blooms longer throughout the growing season. It mainly increases crop yield, improves soil condition and much more.
Fish emulsion is another organic fertilizer that can give your tomato plants an extra boost, both at planting and during the entire season. It mainly contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, with additional minerals that include calcium, magnesium, sulfur and other trace minerals. Most products are obtainable as a concentrated liquid, produced by blending fish parts including bones and then subjecting the emulsion to heat to destroy any unhealthy bacteria. Unlike cottonseed meal and compost, the nutrients in fish emulsion are available to your tomato plants immediately. Fish emulsion fertilizer is a partially decomposed blend of finely pulverized fish.
Tips for Organic fertilizing Tomatoes
Fertilizing tomato plants properly takes time and more care. Here are some key tips for growing the healthiest tomato plants possible;
Organic matter, such as aged manure and compost, help to improve drainage, so it’s an excellent idea to add several inches of matter to the top 8 to 12 inches of soil before planting.
Be careful where you fertilize tomato plants. Since fertilizing too close to the plant can affect fertilizer running off onto the stem and burning the plant, be careful to spread the fertilizer on the ground roughly 6 inches from the base of the plant.
The truth is that fertilizer won’t matter if tomato plants aren’t able to absorb the nutrients you’re putting in the soil. To ensure root health, then, it is very important to make sure you’re watering your plants correctly. Water slowly and deeply at the stem of the tomato plant, allowing enough time for the water to enter the soil, and always water early in the day. Tomatoes typically need 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
Disadvantages of organic tomato fertilizer
Some of the disadvantages for the gardener to using organic tomato fertilizer are given below;
- Three major nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium are not balanced;
- Weaker strength means fertilizing more often during the growing period, which can increase expenses;
- It can contain damaging pathogens if fertilizer is not properly composted.
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