Fertilizer for tomatoe plants

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Fertilizing Tomatoes: Tips For Using Tomato Plant Fertilizer

Tomatoes, like many annuals, are heavy feeders and do better when provided with plenty of nutrients to grow through the season. Fertilizers, either chemical or organic, can help provide the extra nutrients that tomatoes need to grow quickly. But what is a good tomato fertilizer? And when should you be fertilizing tomato plants? Keep reading and we will answer the question about fertilizing tomatoes.

What is the Best Tomato Fertilizer?

Which tomato fertilizer you use will depend on the current nutrient content of your soil. Before you start fertilizing tomatoes, it is best to have your soil tested.

If your soil is correctly balanced or high in nitrogen, you should use a fertilizer that is slightly lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus, such as a 5-10-5 or a 5-10-10 mixed fertilizer.

If you are slightly lacking in nitrogen, use a balanced fertilizer like 8-8-8 or 10-10-10.

If you are unable to get a soil test done, unless you have had problems in the past with sickly tomato plants, you can assume that you have a balanced soil and use the higher phosphorus tomato plant fertilizer.

When fertilizing tomato plants, be careful that you don’t use too much nitrogen. This will result in a lush, green tomato plant with very few tomatoes. If you have experienced this problem in the past, you may even want to consider simply providing phosphorus to the plant instead of a complete fertilizer for tomatoes.

When to Use Tomato Plant Fertilizers

Tomatoes should be first fertilized when you plant them in the garden. You can then wait until they 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 plant.

How to Fertilize Tomatoes

When fertilizing tomatoes while planting, mix the tomato plant fertilizer in with the soil at the bottom on the planting hole, then place some unfertilized soil on top of this before placing the tomato plant into the hole. If raw fertilizer comes in contact with the roots of the plant, it can burn the tomato plant.

When fertilizing tomato plants after the fruit have set, first make sure the tomato 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 plant.

After watering, spread the fertilizer on the ground starting approximately 6 inches from the base of the plant. Fertilizing too close to the tomato plant can result in fertilizer running off onto the stem and burning the tomato plant.

If you want a bumper crop of tomatoes, you’re going to need a good tomato fertilizer. But the best forms of fertilizer may not be readily apparent. Tomatoes are heavy feeders, and they’ll want all kinds of stuff to promote both plant and fruit growth.

So to clear up all this confusion, I’m going to offer you solutions for your tomato fertilizer dilemma. We’ll go over how best to prepare the soil prior to planting. I’ll explain how to minimize your chances of blossom end rot and other related problems. And hopefully by the time you’re done reading, you’ll have every piece of information necessary to grow a an abundance of “love apples”.

Rich Soil In Advance: Preparing Your Beds

Prepare your soil before planting. Source: Ethan Hurd

It’s essential before you even plant your tomatoes to make sure that the beds are full of nutrition. After all, the young plants will devour whatever you put down for them!

I like to amend my beds prior to planting tomatoes with a mix of homemade compost from my compost tumbler, some well-composted animal manure (horse or chicken is great, but cow manure is also fine), and a few other components.

Vermicompost from my worm composter is a great additive. Not only does it offer plenty of nutrients to the soil, but it provides a host of microorganisms. These microscopic soil dwellers will help the plants absorb food better and will repel against some forms of soil-dwelling pests.

After using eggs in the kitchen, I wash and dry the shells and make a powder of them. I will blend that powder through my beds as well. The eggshells provide a much-needed calcium boost! Tomatoes use that calcium to prevent against blossom end rot.

Ensure that your tomato beds are well-draining, loose soil. If they’re too compacted, the tomatoes will have problems getting their root system developed properly.

A good rule of thumb is that you should be easily able to push your fingers into the soil without too much force exerted. If you can’t, it’s too compacted.

When To Fertilize Tomatoes

Fertilize with phosphorous to encourage flowering and fruiting. Source: thesoutherngardener

Generally, you will fertilize once when you plant, and then wait for a while as the plants settle in.

Add fertilizer to the hole in which you intend to plant, working it lightly through the soil. If it’s an organic fertilizer, you’re set. If it’s chemical, place a thin layer of normal soil between the fertilizer and the base of the young plant. This prevents root-burn while the plant is unwinding itself from being in a pot.

Once your plants start to set fruit, you can begin to fertilize again. At that point, it’s easiest to use a diluted liquid fertilizer or “fertilizer tea” and fertilize around your tomato plants every couple of weeks until the end of the harvest period. Try to avoid getting the fertilizer on the leaves — aim it in a ring about 6″ out from the base of your plant.

You can also use dry fertilizers around your tomatoes. Simply work them into the top layer of soil lightly, then water them in. If you need to water anyway, this may be the easiest option for you.

Before you fertilize, be sure your plants have been thoroughly watered. That ensures that they aren’t trying to suck up pure fertilizer instead of the water they also need. Once they’ve been watered, then add your fertilizer and you’re set for another couple weeks.

Organic Vs. Chemical: Which Is Better?

Keep fertilizer on hand so you can fertilize as needed. Source: Chiot’s Run

There’s been a lot of debate as to which is better for your plant. The plants themselves do not seem to care much whether their nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous come from chemical or natural means. However, you might!

Many people are concerned about whether chemical fertilizers will come through in your harvested fruit. There are few studies that show any significant signs of chemical additives appearing in your harvest. If the potential risk outweighs the benefit, you may want to go organic.

I personally prefer organic methods in my garden. This is largely because the wide variety of chemical options out there are formulated to only provide the N-P-K fertilizers and lack a lot of the micronutrients that my plants may need. Further, there can actually be too much nitrogen, potassium, or phosphorous in the soil, and that can leach off into local water via runoffs and the watershed. It’s more environmentally friendly to build your soil naturally!

Organic tomato fertilizer tends to be slow-release and is formulated from products like alfalfa meal, blood or bone meal, and the like. These gradually break down in the soil and offer a continuous source of nutrition for my plants. They also help build the soil, providing good organic material.

As any long-term gardener can tell you, the better your soil is, the better your plants will grow. Building the soil rather than simply adding a chemical will turn out to be the best choice in the long run.

However, let’s not rule out chemical means altogether. If you want to use a product like Miracle-Gro Tomato Plant Food, you can. It’s better that your tomatoes get the nutrition that they need, no matter what! But I do encourage going organic whenever possible. It’s better for the environment and for your garden soil, and you’ll have better harvests over time.

I still do encourage adding a little extra calcium to your soil if you opt for a chemical alternative. The last thing you want is to have huge, happy plants that don’t produce fruit!

Great Organic Tomato Fertilizer Options

You can opt to purchase an organic tomato fertilizer, or you can make your own.

I’m a big fan of Doctor Earth Organic Tomato, Vegetable & Herb fertilizer. Made of a blend of fish bone meal, feather meal, potassium sulfate, humic acid, and seaweed extract, it provides a slow-release 5-7-3 NPK. Slightly higher in phosphorous to promote flowering (and subsequent fruiting), it also is a good source of nitrogen.

Doctor Earth tomato fertilizer also incorporates beneficial soil microbes and mycorrhizae to help protect the plant and help it take up its nutrients more readily. It can be used just as it is as an additive to the soil, or brewed into a fertilizer tea and then added in liquid form around your plants.

At a 3-4-6 level, there is also Espoma Tomato-Tone, which incorporates calcium into its blend to prevent blossom end rot. Espoma tomato fertilizer also has some beneficial soil microbes added, but lacks the mycorrhizae. It’s constructed of a blend of feather meal, poultry manure, bone meal, alfalfa meal, humates, sulphate of potash, and gypsum.

I’m less happy with how well the Espoma tomato fertilizer worked for me, as I have potassium-rich soil and it’s much higher on the potassium than is required for my soil. But if you do a soil test and discover your potassium levels are low, this might be the perfect choice for you.

Homemade Tomato Fertilizer

Tomato plants which have had both nitrogen and phosphorous rich fertilizer added. Source: Lorin Nielsen

There’s been a few different variations that I’ve used over the years to fertilize my tomatoes, but it usually depends on what’s available to you.

If you have chickens, chicken manure is phenomenal for tomatoes, but be sure to compost it down first. Pet rabbits and hamsters are also great suppliers of rich manure for tomato-growing, especially as they tend to have a lot of alfalfa in their diets.

The Base

A good tomato fertilizer blend utilizes a base of high-quality compost. I use a compost that I’ve made myself from my yard waste and food scraps. If you don’t have homemade compost, you can do a blend of composted animal manure and either peat moss or coconut coir, thoroughly blended together. This creates a “fake” compost which should work just fine as a starter.

Take about a half-gallon of your compost and place it into a large mixing tray or bucket. Make sure any large clumps are broken up and that it’s well-combined. At this point, you need to consider what, exactly, your tomatoes need.

I like to add a couple cups of vermicompost to my compost blend to help kick up the beneficial microbes in the soil and provide a good-quality fertilizer additive. I also add about a cup of cleaned, dried and powdered eggshells to add extra calcium. If you have rabbits or hamsters, add a couple cups of their droppings to this mix as well.

Now Add Nutrients

Once you have those well combined, add a cup of wood ashes to kick up the potassium and phosphorous level a bit.

If you don’t have a woodburning fireplace, you can add a couple cups of kelp meal to raise the potassium. A half cup to a cup of bone meal will raise the phosphorous.

You can also add used tea leaves or coffee grounds for a low nitrogen boost (I do 1-2 cups). 2 cups of alfalfa pellets or leaves will give a slow-release nitrogen boost as well. If using pellets, lightly dampen them so they fall apart before adding them, so they will combine evenly through your mix.

If you want to give them a much higher level of nitrogen, consider adding a half cup of blood meal to your mixture. Blood meal varies between 9-14% nitrogen content, and a little bit goes a long way.

You can also throw any pet hair or human hair in there that you have on hand. Be sure to cut up the hair finely so it will mix into the fertilizer, rather than clumping. Hair will break down in the soil as a slow-release nitrogen source, and will also provide keratin, a protein which your tomatoes will appreciate.

Ideally, make your fertilizer about a month in advance, blending it thoroughly together and storing it in a sealed bucket. This gives your fertilizer time to cure before use.

What Tomato Fertilizer Ratio Should I Use?

Avoid tomato blossom end rot by ensuring there’s calcium in your soil. Source: Scot Nelson

As mentioned before, nitrogen spurs plant growth. So, early on, your plant will require more nitrogen, especially if starting from seed or planting a new transplant.

Once your plant has achieved a good size, you can cut back on the nitrogen and provide more phosphorous to stimulate fruiting and more potassium for good root structure and fruit setting.

This means that your tomato fertilizer will change as the plants mature, and that’s okay! The best tomato fertilizer is the one which provides what your plants need at that particular moment.

For me personally, I opt for something like an 10-5-5 or a 10-5-8 when I’m first planting. This gives my new starts a great kickstart, and the latter one encourages great root development. However, once they are a good size, I switch over to a 5-10-5 or a 5-10-10. If I’m fertilizing every couple weeks, I can opt for a lower-strength fertilizer and just remain consistent in my feedings.

Making Liquid Fertilizer

If you’d prefer to use your fertilizer as a liquid, you need to make fertilizer tea. This process takes a little time, but it’s well worth the effort.

Mix one pound of your tomato fertilizer for each gallon to gallon and a half of water in a large container. I use a five-gallon bucket for this purpose. Stir the water and fertilizer together well, and be sure to stir it a couple times a day. Allow this to steep for five days in an area where it’s protected from both cold and heat.

After five days, strain off the liquid and use it immediately, undiluted. But don’t throw out the remaining solids! Those can either be sprinkled around your plants or added to your compost pile, because they still have some nutrition yet to give.

Most organic, commercially-available fertilizers can also be used as a fertilizer tea. They often have recommended recipes for the best fertilizer tea for their specific formulation. You can follow yours or simply go with my version, either will work. The real goal is to give your liquid three to five days of steeping time to allow the nutrients to be absorbed by the water.

What Is The Best Fertilizer For Tomatoes?

Regular fertilizing will produce huge harvests. Bill shown for size comparison. Source: Lorin Nielsen

I personally feel that there is no single “best fertilizer” for tomatoes, because it is all varying dependent on what your soil will need. But there are a few reasonably good choices I will recommend.

Earlier in this piece, I mentioned Doctor Earth Organic Tomato, Vegetable & Herb fertilizer. For most people, this is going to be a great choice. However, it’s important to pull out your soil test kit first and see what you need.

Espoma Tomato-Tone is another reasonable choice, especially if your soil needs a bit more potassium than phosphorous or nitrogen.

However, you can opt to use your own homemade blend, and it can work with great effect. Be sure to test your soil first to determine what your soil needs. Also, be sure that both nitrogen and phosphorous are well-represented so that you are encouraging plant growth and healthy blooming.

Ensure that you have calcium in your soil to prevent blossom end rot. It doesn’t matter if it comes from a commercially-available fertilizer or if it comes from powdered egg shells, just be sure it’s there!

And finally, the best fertilizer for tomatoes is the one which you use. If you don’t fertilize them, your tomatoes will not be as abundant or as healthy as plants you do fertilize. So, no matter what, use something during the growth period to give your tomatoes the food they so desperately desire.

Ready for that bumper crop of tomatoes yet? If you fertilize properly, you’ll be canning your produce all season long! Do you have a favorite blend that you use, or a preferred brand? Let me know below!

The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:
Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener
Kevin Espiritu
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Fertilizing Tomatoes

Tomatoes need quite a big food supply over the season — they’re what we call “heavy feeders.” This is no surprise when you look at all the work they’re doing: extending the stem, putting out more branches, leaves and blossoms; developing, nurturing and ripening all those fruits! To do all this work they need a steady diet of water and nutrients.

All About Side-Dressing

In most gardens, it’s a good idea to side-dress tomatoes. That simply means placing fertilizer around the plants to give them extra nourishment through the season. One or two side-dressings is fine for most gardens.
Many kinds of fertilizers can give tomatoes the extra nutrients they need. Some gardeners prefer to use a complete fertilizer (such as 5-10-10 or 10-10-10). Organic fertilizers such as bone meal, dried manure or cottonseed meal are also good. Just remember that most organic fertilizers don’t contain balanced amounts of the three major nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. For example, manure tends to be low in phosphorus so you could add bone meal at the same time to provide a more complete diet.
Stay away from high-nitrogen fertilizers such as urea, ammonium sulfate or fresh manure because it’s easy to use too much. When you over fertilize, you get tall, dark green plants with few tomatoes.

When To Side-Dress

Start side-dressing when the first tomatoes have just formed – when they’re about the size of golf balls. Make repeat side-dressings every three weeks after that. About a pound (two cups) of 5-10-10 should be enough for all the plants in a 30-foot row (about 20 plants). This works out to about 1-1/2 tablespoons per plant spread in a one-inch-deep circular furrow five to six inches away from the stem, usually right under the drip line of the plant. Be careful not to get any of this fertilizer on the leaves or stem because it will burn them. Cover the fertilizer with one to two inches of soil. The next rain or watering will start carrying the nutrients down into the root zone of the plants.

Tomato Plant Nutrition: What Nutrients do Tomato Plants Need?

Every tomato grower has a ‘secret recipe’ for tomato growing success. An integral part of a high yield is proper tomato plant nutrition.

That’s right – plants need food, too! Giving a plant the right food at the right time will not only increase fruit yield, it will also help prevent damage from diseases and pests. Let’s take a closer look.

Plant Nutrients

Plants do not eat hamburgers and French fries, but they do still need “nutrients.” Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium are the three nutrients most commonly fed to plants. These are known as ‘primary nutrients’. Most fertilizers are a combination of the three. When reading a fertilizer package, a three number series such as 3-0-3, or 15-10-5, indicates the ratio of all three nutrients in the fertilizer.

Other nutrients and minerals, in smaller amounts, help tomato plants grow robustly and healthily. These are known as ‘micronutrients’ and include Zinc, Chloride, Iron, Boron, Copper, and more.

Determining Which Nutrients Your Soil Needs

Plants get nutrients from the soil in which they are planted, so soil preparation is essential in creating ideal tomato plant nutrition.

To determine which nutrients your garden soil needs to promote healthy plant growth, you can prepare a soil sample and send it to your local cooperative extension office for analysis. The soil sample will allow you to properly prepare the garden soil and add just enough of each lacking nutrient to grow healthy plants.

Testing Soil pH

Another important test is the soil pH. Soil pH affects the way plants are able to take in nutrients. If your soil is too high or too low, you will want to amend the pH by adding mulch (to increase acidity) or lime (to increase alkalinity.)

Here’s an easy way to test your soil pH using vinegar and baking soda.

  • Collect about 1 cup of soil from your garden and divide into two containers.
  • Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to one sample. If it fizzes, your soil is alkaline with a pH between 7 and 8.
  • If it doesn’t fizz, add two tablespoons of distilled water to the other sample and mix until the soil is muddy.
  • Add 1/2 of baking soda to the second sample. If it fizzes, your soil is acidic with a pH between 5 and 6.
  • If neither sample fizzes, then your soil is neutral. Lucky you!

When to Add Nutrients

Flowering plants require a higher ratio of potassium.

To ensure proper tomato plant nutrition, you will need to add nutrients at differing amounts at various stages of growth. After receiving soil test results, checking your soil’s pH level, and before planting tomatoes, work a general fertilizer into the soil. NPK ratios of 5-10-10 or 8-16-16 are good to start. The soil test results will tell you if you are seriously lacking one nutrient or another.

Once the plant begins growing, different ratios of nutrients promote best growth. For example, once the plant starts flowering, it needs a higher ratio of potassium.

Soil Composition for Tomato Plant Nutrition

Adding fertilizer is only one step to providing plants with proper nutrients and increasing crop yield.

Soil composition and structure directly affects tomato plant health. Tomato plants thrive by growing roots deep into the soil. Hard clay soils must be broken and amended with compost to promote healthy root growth. Overly sandy soils need addition of organic matter in order to hold water and nutrients.

Compost for High Fruit Yield

Organic matter is an essential component of soil. Adding proper organic matter will greatly improve soil health, while adding improper organic matter is detrimental to soil.

Organic matter can be added by top dressing or double digging.

  • Top dressing with organic works exactly as it sounds. You add organic matter to the top of the soil, almost like a mulch.
  • Double-digging requires digging and removing soil, mixing the organic matter into the soil, and replacing the newly combined soil.

Great organic matters are already composted. As wood chips, leaves and other compost breaks down, it uses nitrogen. It is important to add composted organic matter rather than fresh, as fresh matter will remove essential nutrients from the soil. If fresh organic matter is all that is available, be sure to add nitrogen along with the organic matter.

More on Tomato Plant Nutrition

Soil composition, structure, pH, and nutrient availability all contribute to proper tomato plant nutrition, health, and yield. For more detailed information on soil health and how to manage nutrition properly (including diagnosing nutrient deficiencies), have a read of Chapter 9 in How to Grow Tasty Juicy Tomatoes.

Kinds of Tomato Fertilizer

Effective tomato fertilizer, whether organic or not, provides nutrients tomatoes need at different stages of growth.

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What nutrients tomatoes need

To grow successfully, tomatoes need nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, potash, calcium, and magnesium, along with other trace minerals.

It’s always best to have your soil tested to check for nutrient levels and pH. You can test your soil yourself, both its nutrient levels and its pH, in a simple, inexpensive soil test kit. Or contact your local extension office and ask about local soil testing services. Tou can also find simple (but accurate) pH test kits online.

Test results may show a particular nutrient deficiency. Then you can amend your soil appropriately. Soil nitrogen content should be higher than phosphorus content.

The next step is to select a tomato fertilizer.

How to read a fertilizer package

Most fertilizers are a combination of the three nutrients commonly fed to plants: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (referred to as the “N-P-K ratio”). A commercial fertilizer’s analysis is listed on the label in a three-number series, such as 15-10-5. The three numbers represent those three nutrients. A 15-10-5 fertilizer contains 15% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 5% potassium. The remainder of the fertilizer is filler material.

What fertilizer nutrient balance to choose for tomatoes

Nitrogen. Nitrogen encourages leaf growth, which is why fertilizers with higher ratio of nitrogen (the first of the three numbers) are an optimum choice for lawns and grasses. But in tomatoes, excess leaf growth discourages blossoms and fruit.

A complete fertilizer with a balanced supply of the three major 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 such as 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 fruiting.

Potassium. Once a tomato plant starts flowering, it needs a higher ratio of potassium (the third number in the N-P-K ratio). Good organic sources of potassium are granite dust and wood ash.

Specialized tomato fertilizer

Two fertilizers specially formulated for tomatoes are :

Miracle-Gro Tomatoes (18-18-21), a crystal formula that is mixed with water and applied through a hose, sprayer, or sprinkler

Tomato Tone: (4-7-10 or 3-4-6): a granular fertilizer that is worked into the soil. Tomato Tone is organic and contains calcium, magnesium, sulfur and trace nutrients.

When to add nutrients during the tomato season

Once a plant is established in the garden, a phosphate-concentrated application (such as 0-46-0 commercial fertilizer) every 6-8 weeks increases tomato production. Bone meal, with an analysis of 4-12-0, is a good organic source of phosphorus. When a tomato plant sets fruit, start a systematic fertilization program and feed every three weeks until frost.

See more on our Fertilizing Tomatoes Pinterest board.

More about tomato fertilizer
How to use tomato fertilizer to get the best tomato production
Organic tomato fertilizer: advantages and disadvantages…
Epsom salts: a natural tomato fertilizer …
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Tomato fertilizer question: will this fertilizer work for tomatoes?
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Staking tomatoes produces a bigger, healthier harvest …
Watering tomatoes when planting and just afterwards …
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Watering tomatoes: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) …
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How and when to mulch tomatoes …
What’s the best mulch for growing tomatoes?
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Pruning tomato plants: how and when to do it …
Growing tomatoes: top 4 areas of tomato care …

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Do you want to grow deliciously tasty home-grown tomatoes? To give your tomatoes their best start in life, feed them a nutrient-rich tomato fertilizer. Once your tomato plants receive the essential life-giving nutrients they crave, they will grow up into healthy plants and consistently produce a vibrant tomato harvest.

The 8 Best Fertilizers for Tomatoes

  1. Jobe’s Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer
  2. Miracle-Gro Tomato Plant Food Fertilizer
  3. Espoma Tomato-tone Organic Fertilizer (Our Top Pick)
  4. Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer
  5. JR Peter’s Jack’s Classic Tomato Feed Fertilizer
  6. Urban Farm Fertilizers Texas Tomato Food Fertilizer
  7. Earthworm Technologies TeaDrops Premium Tomato+Pepper Organic Vegetable Fertilizer
  8. Neptune’s Harvest Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer

Our Top Pick for the Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes

Our top pick for the best fertilizer for tomatoes is the Espoma Tomato-tone Organic Fertilizer.

Espoma has been making superior quality fertilizer products since 1929, and their Tomato-tone fertilizer is designed for the everyday and organic gardener. With a superb balance of essential macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients and their own unique Biotone formula, the Espoma organic tomato fertilizer will create a flourishing garden full of deliciously tasty, rich red, plump home-grown tomatoes.

Check the price on Amazon

Feed Your Tomato Plant Nutrient Rich Fertilizer

Growing home-grown tomatoes has so many benefits for the avid gardener. You can:

  • Control the quality of your tomatoes so that they are 100% natural and organic and free of any synthetic materials, chemicals or GMO’s.
  • Grow your favorite types of tomatoes like cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes or beefsteak tomatoes.
  • Plant the tomatoes according to your lifestyle; outside in the garden, in containers on the porch, in pots on the balcony, on the window sill, in a greenhouse or hydroponic tomato plants.

A nutrient-rich tomato fertilizer creates the right soil environment so that your plants can develop strong and healthy roots, stems, foliage, and fruit. The end result will be a bountiful harvest of mouth-watering, rich red tomatoes that you will proud of.

How to Choose The Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes

To be able to choose the right tomato fertilizer for your garden, follow these 3 easy steps.

Step 1. Check the Condition of the Soil

Before you start planting your tomato plants, check the conditions of the soil.

Does your garden have clay-based soil or sandy soil?

What is the pH level of the soil?

While many basic nutrients like nitrogen or magnesium may already be present in the soil, there may not be the right amount of nutrients for growing tomatoes. The fertilizer may not be as effective if you have clay or sandy soil.

The easiest way to determine the condition of the soil is to try a soil test, which tells you the nutrients that are in the soil and the soil’s pH level.

Step 2. Check the Growing Stage of the Tomato Plants

Tomatoes need different nutrients at different stages of their growth cycle. If your plants are seedlings and their green leaves are sprouting out from the soil, you will need a tomato fertilizer that has a good level of phosphorous, like the Miracle-Grow or JR Peters fertilizer, which helps the plant to develop a strong root system.

If you have established tomato plants, a tomato fertilizer that has extra potassium, like JR Peters, Dr. Earth or Urban Farm, will help your plants to stay strong and healthy and produce a consistent crop of larger tomatoes.

Although nitrogen is important for foliage growth, too much nitrogen can create plants with lots of foliage but less fruit.

Step 3. Choose the Right Fertilizer

You are now ready to choose your tomato fertilizer.

Macro-nutrients

Macro-nutrients are displayed on the outside of the packaging in a series of 3 numbers called an N.P.K ratio. These numbers refer to the percentage of key plant food ingredients of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, which are contained in the fertilizer.

  • Nitrogen stimulates a plant’s natural production of chlorophyll which promotes healthy leaf and stem growth.
  • Phosphorus helps the plant to develop strong roots, stems, blossoms, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Potassium creates strong and sturdy root systems.

Micronutrients

Fertilizers may also contain a complex blend of micronutrients, minerals or organic ingredients that are highly beneficial for plants such as:

Calcium that neutralizes harmful substances in the soil, helps to prevent diseases like blossom end rot and creates a more balanced soil environment for your plants.

Magnesium is used to gather sunlight which helps the plant and its tomatoes to grow.

Sulfur assists in the plant’s shape and overall development.

Types of Tomato Fertilizer

Fertilizer is fed to your plants via 3 distribution methods: granules, water-soluble granules or powder, or a liquid.

Granular

Granular fertilizers are sprinkled over the soil around the base of the plant. To activate the granules, water them with a garden hose or a watering can. Granular plant food also comes in two types; slow/continuous release and water soluble.

Slow/Continuous Release Granules

Slow-release granules produce a long-lasting effect as the nutrients are continuously released over time, usually up to 2 months or so, which means you do not have to reapply the fertilizer as often. The exact time of the continuous release period will depend on the fertilizer brand.

It may take a while to see positive results and the pH level of the soil can reduce the granule’s effectiveness. If you want to use slow-release granules, check the pH of the soil before you apply the granules.

Water-soluble

Water-soluble plant food can be easily dissolved in water or you can sprinkle the powder around the plant or mix it into the soil and then use the garden hose. The tomato plant will quickly absorb the life-sustaining nutrients through its roots, which means you should see results quickly, usually within 10 to 14 days.

This type of tomato fertilizer can be used for all types of plants, both outdoor plants or indoor potted plants, greenhouse plants, and it is especially useful for drip irrigation systems.

Leaching can also be a problem with water-soluble plant food, especially if your garden has sandy soil or it receives a lot of rain. You also have to make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s correct water-to-product ratio as too much fertilizer can burn the foliage of the plants.

Liquid Tomato Food

Liquid tomato food like Urban Farm, Earthworm Technologies Tea Drops, or Neptune’s Harvest provides instant nutrients to your plants so you should see results quickly. You can apply the liquid by using a spray bottle, a garden sprayer or a watering can. Liquid solutions can be highly concentrated and can make baby plants like seedlings sick so make sure that you dilute the food as per the instructions.

Organic Tomato Fertilizer

As opposed to synthetic fertilizers that may contain chemicals or GMO’s, organic tomato fertilizers are 100% safe to use in the garden, around children and pets and they are environmentally friendly. Organic tomato fertilizers contain ingredients that are directly sourced from nature and have not been genetically engineered. The downside of using an organic tomato fertilizer is that it may work at a slower rate and contain other ingredients like fish byproducts which can give it a strong odor.

Just because a fertilizer states that it has 100% natural ingredients, it is not considered a certified organic product unless it has been certified organic by OMRI or a similar organization. If you are an organic gardener and you are not sure about the certification, contact the company.

Best Tomato Fertilizer Reviews

1. Jobe’s Organics Vegetable & Tomato 4lbs Fertilizer

If you are an organic gardener, the Jobe’s Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer is an excellent choice as it is a certified organic product and will produce an abundant harvest of fabulous tomatoes and vegetables.

Jobe’s granular water-soluble fertilizer is specially formulated with a macro-nutrient NPK ratio of 2-5-3 and their exclusive Biozome, which is a unique and proprietary blend of healthy beneficial bacteria such as mycorrhizal fungi and archaea.

This power-packed, fast-acting fertilizer works to improve the soil environment for your plant, by infusing the soil and the plant with life-giving nutrients, which reduces the risk of disease, insects, and drought and helps your plants to bear more fruit.

As well as tomatoes, you can use the fertilizer for a wide range of vegetables like potatoes, onions, pumpkins, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, lettuce, eggplants, and beans.

Jobe’s Organics is certified by the USDA and is OMRI listed. It contains no harmful synthetic chemicals and is safe to use around children and pets.

The 4-lbs fertilizer comes in an easy-pour, resealable bag for quick distribution and to prevent any spoiling. It can be applied at the time of planting and every 4-6 weeks for best results.

Jobe Organics also makes 1.5 lbs and 16 lbs bags and there are tomato fertilizer spikes which are a great idea for potted indoor tomato plants.

Pros

  • Outstanding quality
  • Very good price
  • Fast-acting
  • Contains macro-nutrient and micro-nutrients
  • Organic granular fertilizer designed for vegetables and tomatoes
  • Produces a more abundant harvest
  • USDA certified and OMRI listed for organic gardening
  • Contains Jobe exclusive Biozome
  • Improves soil conditions, resist disease, insects, and drought
  • Safe for use around children and pets
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Easy pour bag
  • Other fertilizer bag sizes available
  • Tomato fertilizer spikes available

Cons

  • May not achieve the best results for potted tomato plants
  • Expensive
  • Instructions are not very clear on the package

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2. Miracle-Gro 1.5lbs Tomato Plant Food Fertilizer

Work a miracle in your garden with the Miracle-Grow Tomato Plant Food Fertilizer.

For a plentiful harvest of ripe red tomatoes that are just bursting with goodness, the 1.5lb Miracle-Gro fertilizer is specially formulated for tomatoes and other fruiting vegetables. It has a balanced blend of NPK ratio of 18-18-21 macro-nutrients and essential micronutrients: 5% magnesium, 0.05% copper, 0.10% iron, 0.05% manganese, and 0.05% zinc, which provides the perfect amount of nourishment to help your plants grow and flourish.

The all-plant-safe formula is guaranteed not to burn your plants when it is used as directed.

You can save valuable garden time by watering and feeding your plants simultaneously. Just add the fertilizer to the right water-to-product ratio in a watering can, a garden feeder or a pump sprayer and let the fertilizer work its magic.

The 1.5lb pack provides good coverage as it feeds proximately 600 square feet. For best results, it needs to be applied every 7-14 days.

Miracle-Grow also makes a 3lb bag of tomato fertilizer.

Pros

  • Excellent value for money
  • Delivers very good results
  • A balanced blend of macro and micro-nutrients
  • Grows bigger, more bountiful vegetables versus unfed plants
  • Fast-acting
  • Great for tomatoes and vegetables
  • Safe for all plants, guaranteed not to burn when used as directed
  • Versatile fertilizer can be used with a watering can, garden feed or pump spray
  • Provides good coverage
  • Available in a 3lbs bag

Cons

  • Only contains a small number of micro-nutrients
  • Not ideal for plants that have a calcium deficiencies
  • Can burn acidic plants

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3. Espoma Tomato-tone Organic 4lbs Fertilizer

Grow deliciously tasty tomatoes with the Tomato-tone Organic Fertilizer from Espoma.

This all-natural premium organic 4lbs fertilizer is perfect for growing tomatoes and other vegetables like squash, cucumbers, and peppers.

Tomato-tone’s organic composition feeds your plants naturally and will not force rapid growth at the expense of beautiful blooms and tomato yield.

With a balanced N-P-K macro-nutrient ratio of 3-4-6, a complex blend of 15 essential nutrients, Espoma’s exclusive Bio-tone, which is a proprietary blend of beneficial microbes and 8% calcium to protect against blossom end rot, your plants will grow strong and healthy and produce plump, juicy tomatoes.

The fertilizer has been university tested and contains no sludges, hazardous or toxic ingredients. It is environmentally safe and has been approved for organic gardening by the USDA.

You can use Tomato-tone on all types of tomatoes and the slow release, continuous feeding granules will not burn the plant’s foliage or leach away into the soil.

The fertilizer needs to be applied every 10-14 days and then twice per month for May through August for best results.

Pros

  • Superb-quality
  • Great value for money
  • Very effective
  • Long-lasting slow-release continuous feeding
  • Exclusive Biotone formula
  • Well balanced N-P-K macronutrient ratio of 3-4-6
  • Specifically formulated to produce consistently plump, juicy tomatoes
  • A complex blend of 15 essential nutrients
  • 8% calcium to protect against blossom end rot
  • University tested formula
  • Contains a variety of beneficial bacteria microbes
  • Environmentally safe
  • No sludges, hazardous or toxic ingredients
  • Approved for organic gardening by the USDA

Cons

  • Active microbes only have a shelf-life of two years
  • Strong pungent smell
  • If not used carefully, can possibly burn other types of leafy vegetables

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4. Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer

For a vibrant garden that is bursting with fabulous vegetables, the premium vegetable and herb organic fertilizer from Dr. Earth will produce an abundant harvest of nutritious tomatoes and vegetables.

Dr. Earth has created a superior blend of essential plant nutrients that your tomatoes crave. The 100% organic formula contains a 5-7-3 NPK macro-nutrient mix and a rich mix of wild-caught Alaskan fish bone and meal, feather meal, kelp meal, alfalfa meal, soft rock phosphate, mined potassium sulfate, humic acid, and seaweed extract.

The fertilizer is infused with an advanced pro-biotic that contains beneficial soil microbes plus Ecto and Endo Mycorrhizae, which makes your plants highly drought resistant and improve overall plant and tomato-growing performance.

Dr. Earth fertilizer can be applied to summer and winter vegetables, potted plants, shrubs, ornamental trees, as well as bare root crops, established vegetables, and transplanted seedlings.

The granulated fertilizer can be sprinkled around the plant and mixed into the soil or it can be made into a compost tea, as a soil drench or foliage spray.

You can expect exceptional results, especially with cherry tomatoes, because the slow-release fertilizer keeps on feeding your tomatoes for up to 2 months.

Dr. Earth’s Home-Grown is OMRI-listed and MycoApply certified. The fertilizer contains 100% natural and organic ingredients and no synthetic materials, chemicals or GMO’s, and it is safe to use around people and pets.

A very economical fertilizer, the 4 lbs bag feeds 60-square feet or 16 five-gallon plants.

Pros

  • Great quality
  • 100% natural and organic ingredients
  • Advanced pro-biotic formula
  • A superior blend of essential plant nutrients
  • Very effective
  • Especially creates rapid growth in cherry tomatoes
  • Can be used for summer and winter vegetables and bare-root crops
  • No trace of synthetic materials or chemicals
  • No GMO’s
  • No chicken manure or sewage sludge
  • Promotes soil health, promotes a superior harvest
  • Improves plant drought resistance and overall plant performance
  • Can be sprinkled around plants or used as a compost tea spray
  • Can be used in raised beds, or at time of planting, transplanting, and container plants
  • Covers 60-square feet or feed 16 five-gallon plants
  • Long lasting feeding up to 8 weeks
  • People and pet safe
  • OMRI-listed
  • MycoApply certified

Cons

  • Not ideal for indoor tomato plants
  • Strong, pungent smell especially when it is mixed with water

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5. JR Peter’s 51324 Jack’s Classic 1.5lbs Tomato Feed Fertilizer

JR Peter’s Jack’s Classic Tomato Feed Fertilizer features the highest quality nutrients available so that you can grow professional-looking and great tasting tomatoes in your own garden.

The powerful fast-acting water-soluble 1.5 lbs fertilizer contains a higher NPK ratio of 12-15-30 blend of macro-nutrients and essential micro-nutrients like magnesium and calcium, which help your plants to fight plant diseases like blossom end rot.

You will enjoy a good crop of tomatoes and vegetables as the extra high levels of potassium promotes vigorous plant growth, which results in stronger roots and stems and vibrant great leaves, and of course, beautiful tomatoes.

The fertilizer is a great choice for gardeners who like to grow a variety of vegetables as it can be used for all fruiting vine vegetables like peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, and zucchini.

Jack’s Classic comes with a free measuring spoon and it is very easy to use. Mix the granules with water as per the instructions into a sprinkler can, a feeder or spray bottle. For best results, the fertilizer should be applied every 7 to 10 days.

Pros

  • High-quality
  • Very good price
  • An optimum combination of nutrients for fruiting vine vegetables
  • High NPK ratio of 12-15-30
  • Fast-acting
  • Highly effective
  • Contains a higher amount of potassium and magnesium to ensure a good crop
  • Produces vibrant green leaves, strong vines, and more plump fruit
  • Can be used for a variety of vine fruits and vegetables
  • Creates healthy strong plants and a good harvest of tomatoes
  • Contains calcium to help prevent blossom end rot
  • Can be used in a variety of soil types
  • Easy to use
  • Free measuring spoon

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No organic certification

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6. Urban Farm Fertilizers Texas Tomato 1 Gallon Food Fertilizer

This high performing Texas tomato fertilizer from Urban Farm contains a liquid gold formula that will produce a bountiful harvest of the biggest and sweetest rich red tomatoes.

The Urban Farm premium liquid fertilizer is a super-rich blend of macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients that have been tested and proven to produce bigger and tastier tomatoes. The power-packed formula contains a 4.0-2.9.6.7 NPK ratio of macro-nutrients and micronutrients like calcium and potassium and additional nutrients like mycorrhizae, worm casts, humic acid, kelp, enzymes, and minerals. This superb mixture strengthens the plant so that it can fight off diseases like blossom-end rot and produce top quality tomatoes.

As well as feeding tomato plants, the fertilizer can be used for a broad spectrum of vine fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, melons, eggplant, and squash. You can apply the fertilizer by hand watering with a spray bottle, drip irrigation, with the garden hose, or directly to the soil. It can also be used for plants in containers and hydroponic systems.

The fertilizer is great value for money as the super-concentrated one-gallon fertilizer makes a whopping amount of 256 gallons.

Pros

  • High-quality
  • Amazing value for money
  • Super-concentrated formula
  • Hand-crafted
  • High-performance fertilizer
  • Ideal for hand-watering, drip irrigation, hose watering, direct soil application
  • Can be used for plants in containers, pots, and hydroponics
  • Contains a special blend of macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients like magnesium
  • High potassium ratio
  • One-gallon fertilizer makes a whopping amount of 256 gallons
  • Additional nutrients and minerals
  • Contains calcium that stops blossom-end rot
  • Can be used for a variety of vine fruits and vegetables
  • Produces larger, great tasting tomatoes
  • Rigorously tested
  • FDA approved

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No organic certification

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7. Earthworm Technologies TeaDrops Premium Tomato+Pepper Organic Vegetable Fertilizer

If growing tomatoes and peppers are your passion, the TeaDrops Premium Tomato+Pepper Organic Vegetable Fertizler Steeping Tea from Earthworm Technologies will bring your tomato-growing dream to fruition.

The all-natural, balanced biological fertilizer is fortified with essential minerals, pure worm castings, nutrients, humic acids, and beneficial plant root microbes, which creates flourishing plants and bright red luscious tomatoes and peppers and also maximizes flower production.

You can expect to see excellent plant growth as nature intended as the fertilizer tea has a LOW 2 N-P-K macro-nutrient ratio which is designed to simulate your plants’ natural growth hormones.

One of the most user-friendly fertilizer, you do not need to use a measuring spoon and there is no need to get your hands dirty. You can easily feed the premium biological nutrients while you water! Just drop 1 TeaDrops® packet into 1-2 gallons of water (or watering can) and steep for a few hours and apply the formula to the base of your plants.

The fertilizer comes with 16 tea packets and can be used all season long, for all types of vegetables in the garden and indoor plants. It can be even be used to feed Dwarf Meyer lemon, lime and orange trees, and even succulents.

TeaDrops has been professionally tested and is a 100% organic, Non-GMO, biodegradable, and sustainably sourced product that is made in the USA. It is child, pet and environmentally friendly and will not burn your plants.

Pros

  • Excellent quality
  • Value for money
  • Produces great results
  • All-natural balanced proprietary biological plant food formula
  • Fortified with essential minerals, nutrients, humic acids, and beneficial plant root microbes
  • Low N-P-K macro-nutrient ratio is designed to simulate your plants’ natural growth hormones
  • 100% organic, Non-GMO, biodegradable, and sustainably made in the USA
  • Professionally tested
  • Eco-friendly, child and pet-friendly
  • Can be used for types of vegetables in the garden
  • Ideal for indoor and outdoor plants
  • Can be used to feed Dwarf Meyer lemon, lime and orange trees, and even succulents
  • Will not burn plants
  • Mess-free, easy to use 16 tea packets

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not ideal for plants who need higher levels of macro-nutrients

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8. Neptune’s Harvest Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer

Let Neptune’s Harvest Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer weave its magic in your garden and bring to life your tomato plants.

The Neptune’s Harvest liquid fertilizer is specially designed for established tomatoes and vegetable plants or those that are in the early “vegging” stages.

Neptune’s unique formula contains a balanced 2-4-3 N-P-K macro-nutrient mix plus fresh North Atlantic fish, molasses, yucca extract, seaweed and humic acids. These all natural ingredients will ensure that your plants are healthy and happy, and produce lush foliage and help to maximize their tomato harvestability.

The complete nutrient-rich fertilizer also strengths your plants so they can tolerate high temperatures and drought while also improving their overall vigor, color, and root density. With such healthy plants, you can expect a fabulous crop of lush big and juicy and flavorsome tomatoes.

Neptune’s Harvest recommends that you dilute 1 ounce of the tomato fertilizer to 1 gallon of water and use the fertilizer every 1 or 2 weeks. It can be used on outdoor and indoor plants and all types of trees, shrubs, flowers, and house-plants.

Pros

  • High-quality
  • All natural ingredients
  • Balanced 2-4-3 macro-nutrient blend
  • Contains fresh North Atlantic, molasses, yucca extract, seaweed and humic acids
  • Increases vigor and volume of tomatoes and vegetables
  • Ideal for vegetables, trees, shrubs, and flowers
  • Helps plants to tolerate high temperatures and drought
  • Delivers superb results
  • Promotes vigorous growth
  • Can be used to cultivate colorful, fragrant flowers
  • Can be used as a foliar spray for leaves

Cons

  • Not OMRI listed
  • Do not store diluted fertilizer or it can turn smelly
  • Some of the bottles were not packaged very well, which can cause the bottle to leak
  • Might be too concentrated for seedlings

Check the price on Amazon

Our top pick for the best fertilizer for tomatoes is the Espoma Tomato-tone Organic Fertilizer.

Espoma has been making superior quality fertilizer products since 1929, and their Tomato-tone fertilizer is designed for the everyday and organic gardener. With a superb balance of essential macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients and their own unique Biotone formula, the Espoma organic tomato fertilizer will create a flourishing garden full of deliciously tasty, rich red, plump home-grown tomatoes.

Check the price on Amazon

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Growing Tomatoes and Vegetables in Containers

Growing tomatoes in containers can be easier than growing using any other method and the results can be stunning! There are some basic rules for successful container growing and we are here to help. In climates with lots of hot summer heat, large pots can really heat up and the soil can be much warmer than in the ground so it is important to keep them well watered and as cool as possible. Potting soils are designed to drain well but that can be a problem in the summer when you want them to hold water a little bit longer. A little compost added to the pots can make all the difference. Fertilizer can wash out with frequent watering and leave your plants wanting more but a simple dose of slow released fertilizer goes a long way.

Here are some important ways to prevent these problems:

  • Use Large Containers

    Keep in mind that the more root space the plant has, the better the roots will grow. This will allow the top part of the plant to grow large. Tomatoes can grow to over 6-8 feet tall and 2 feet across, a half whiskey barrel sized pot is just enough to accommodate the roots for that size plant. Small pots do make smaller plants but that also means a lot less fruit and many of the problems mentioned above. This plant on the left is in a container that is 19″ in diameter and has our decorative tomato support which is 5′ tall. View our selection of containers in our catalog.

  • Use Compost in Your Pots

    You add compost to the ground when you plant, why not add it to the containers too? Compost is the best stuff for plants and it helps keep them cooler and moist during the summertime. Add about 25% or so to your potting soil mix. Mulch on top of the soil helps keep moisture in pots too. Find compost in our catalog.

  • Fertilizing Regularly is Very Important
    I love using worm castings for this purpose because I can add it anytime and never overfeed. It works like compost and feeds too. As an alternative,we recommend Organic fertilizers which last from 6 weeks to 3 months before they need to be added again. Check out Mater Magic and other organic slow released fertilizers in our catalog.

  • Never Leave Plants Sitting in Water

    You should always use good Potting Soil in your containers and be careful about using trays under pots because they hold water and can actually drown the roots of the plants by providing too much water in the early part of the season when the plant is small. Dump them out frequently after rains. Good drainage holes should be in every pot you plant in. View our selection of Organic Potting soils and compost.

  • Make Sure Your Plants Get Enough Sunshine

    Balconies and sun porches are great for growing plants but make sure there is sun at least 6 hours a day for vegetables to produce fruit well. Lettuces & Herbs will be satisfied with only 3-4 hours a day. Supports keep tomato plants upright and getting all the sunshine they can soak up. View our selection of Supports and Tomato ties. .

  • Too Much Heat Can Be Detrimental To Tomatoes
    They will only set fruits when the temperatures are between 55-85 degrees and containers can heat up quickly in the summertime, especially if they are dark colored. Using pots that are too small, forgetting to water them or not mulching the soil will create a situation where the plants roots are just too hot for them to set tomatoes. They will blossom but the flowers may just fall off. Learn about other products that can help keep your plants healthy and disease free.

What You Need (The Minimum)

All you need is a sunny, warm place and containers large enough for the plants you want to grow. Sunny decks, patios, and other areas are great for container gardening and do not require the difficult digging that starting a garden usually requires. Most vegetable plants will grow quite large so your containers must be large enough and not too crowded. Container gardening requires diligent watering and regular feeding, but it can be easy and fun for kids and adults.

The main things you will need are:

  • Large Containers approximately 18″ or larger in diameter

  • Watering Can or Hose

  • Good Potting Soil (enough to fill your pots)

  • Plant fertilizer and good compost

  • A cage or some kind of support to hold the tomato upright

For Planting Vegetables
You will need to allow approximately 18-24″ in diameter for each plant. This includes tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, beans, squash, peppers and other large plants. These can be planted first and then you can add smaller vegetable plants such as onions, carrots, lettuces, or herbs around the bottom of the plant to fill in a large container.

Prepare Your Potting Soil
First prepare your potting soil by filling the container and adding plant food according to the directions on the package for vegetables. I prefer to use organic plant food or worm castings. Moisten the potting soil by adding water and mixing soil until it feels damp all the way through. Place the pot in the sun and you are ready to plant. Next, dig a hole large enough for the vegetable transplant, turn the plant upside down, tap the bottom, and gently pull the base of the stem until the plant comes out of the container. Place the plant in the hole and fill around the edges pressing gently. Water the plant immediately after planting.

Plants Should Get at Least 6 hours of Sunshine per Day
They can grow with less, but they will not produce fruit in the shade. It is also very important to keep your plants watered regularly. Put your finger down into the soil approximately 2-3″ deep and see if the soil is dry at that level. If it is, then water well until water runs out of the bottom of the pot.

Staking or Supporting Plants
You will need to stake or support plants such as tomatoes, beans, & cucumbers, tomato cages or bamboo stakes work well. Follow the directions on your fertilizer package for feeding vegetables. Check occasionally for bug damage and worms which can do serious damage to tomato plants. There are organic treatments if needed in our catalog and you may visit our Insect Information page for common bug issues.

Picking Tomato Fruit
Pick tomato fruits when they are almost completely red and finish ripening them on your kitchen counter. Once they are soft and totally colored, slice them immediately on to a sandwich and enjoy. Growing vegetables is easy and fun and the payoff of harvest from your own garden is worth the wait.

7 Health Benefits of Tomatoes

In case you were wondering, a tomato is a technically a fruit, because it’s seed-bearing and develops from the ovary of a flowering plant. (Botanically speaking, vegetables consist of other plant parts, like roots, leaves, and stems.) But when it comes to nutrition, tomatoes —along with seedy cucumbers and zucchini—are categorized as vegetables. That’s due in part to their lower carb and sugar contents: A medium tomato provides just 22 calories, and about 5 grams of total carb, with 3 as sugar and 1.5 as fiber. But this low-calorie, low-carb package is chock-full of nutrients, and has been linked to a variety of health benefits. Here are seven, along with some simple ways to incorporate more tomatoes into your everyday meals and snacks.

Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins

A single tomato can provide about 40% of the daily recommended minimum of vitamin C. What’s more, tomatoes supply vitamin A, which supports immunity, vision, and skin health; vitamin K, which is good for your bones; and potassium, a key nutrient for heart function, muscle contractions, and maintaining a healthy blood pressure and fluid balance.

They protect heart health

Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene, which is responsible for their red color. Research suggests that in terms of heart health benefits, it’s more effective to eat tomatoes and tomato products than take lycopene supplements. Other studies have shown that higher blood levels of lycopene are tied to lower death rates for people with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that raise the chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

RELATED: 29 Healthy Tomato Recipes

Improve you vision

Lycopene is also good for your eyes. And that’s not the only peeper-protective nutrient in tomatoes; they contain lutein and beta-carotene as well. According to research, those nutrients support vision and protect against eye conditions including cataracts and macular degeneration.

Boost digestive health

The fluid and fiber in tomatoes may be helpful if you’re prone to constipation. (According to the USDA one large tomato contains 6 ounces of fluid, and 1.5 grams of fiber.) Just be aware that in some people, the acidity from cooked tomatoes may trigger or worsen acid reflux and indigestion.

Help with diabetes management

Tomatoes may be a protective food for people with type 2 diabetes: In one study, people with diabetes who supplemented with cooked tomatoes for 30 days experienced a decrease in lipid peroxidation, a chain reaction in which substances called free radicals attack fat, leading to damage that ups the risk of heart disease. This is particularly important, because diabetes doubles the risk of stroke and heart attack.

RELATED: 6 Health Benefits of Onions

Guard skin health

A 2011 study found that the combination of tomato paste and olive oil protected against sun damage, and boosted the production of pro-collagen, a molecule that gives the skin its structure and keeps it firm and youthful. Scientists believe that the lycopene in tomatoes is key. It’s at its highest concentration when tomatoes have been cooked, and olive oil boosts its absorption from your digestive system into your bloodstream.

Protect against cancer

Observational studies have found links between the superstar compound lycopene and fewer incidences of prostate, ovarian, lung, and stomach cancers.

How to reap all the perks of tomatoes

Your can incorporate tomatoes into your diet in a number of forms—fresh, dried, or as sauce, salsa, or paste. This also allows you to enjoy tomatoes year-round.

Add fresh tomatoes to omelets and salads, and serve them sliced, drizzled with balsamic and garnished with fresh basil, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. Dress fresh greens or steamed veggies with sundried tomato pesto, or drizzle it over broiled fish. Toss spaghetti squash or beans with tomato sauce, or use it as a topping for sautéed green beans or potatoes. Add salsa to scrambled eggs or taco salad, or spoon onto cooked fish, black beans, or brown rice. Use tomato paste in veggie chili, or mix it into hummus, along with roasted garlic and harissa. Bon appétit.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

I live in California, where we seem to eat a lot of sandwiches, salads, and Mexican food. And my favorite cuisine to cook is Italian. In my house, if we aren’t enjoying tomatoes on our sandwiches or in our salads or salsa, we’re saucing up dinner with some marinara. And those high-flavor, garden-fresh grape and cherry tomatoes? We eat them plain, like cherries.

Eating lots of tomatoes, any way you can, is a great thing. This fruit that acts like a vegetable is loaded with health properties.

Here are 10 reasons why you should have tomatoes in your kitchen and pantry:

  1. Tomatoes contain all four major carotenoids: alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene. These carotenoids may have individual benefits, but also have synergy as a group (that is, they interact to provide health benefits).
  2. In particular, tomatoes contain awesome amounts of lycopene,thought to have the highest antioxidant activity of all the carotenoids.
  3. Tomatoes and broccoli have synergy that may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.One study showed that prostate tumors grew much more slowly in rats that were fed both tomato and broccoli powder than in rats given lycopene as a supplement or fed just the broccoli or tomato powder alone.
  4. A diet rich in tomato-based products may help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a study from The University of Montreal. The researchers found that lycopene (provided mainly by tomatoes) was linked to a 31% reduction in pancreatic cancer risk between men with the highest and lowest intakes of this carotenoid.
  5. Tomatoes contain all three high-powered antioxidants:beta-carotene (which has vitamin A activity in the body), vitamin E, and vitamin C. A U.S. Department of Agriculture report, What We Eat in America, noted that a third or us get too little vitamin C and almost half get too little vitamin A.
  6. Tomatoes are rich in potassium, a mineral most of us don’t get enough of. A cup of tomato juice contains 534 milligrams of potassium, and 1/2 cup of tomato sauce has 454 milligrams.
  7. When tomatoes are eaten along with healthier fats, like avocado or olive oil, the body’s absorption of the carotenoid phytochemicals in tomatoes can increase by two to 15 times, according to a study from Ohio State University.
  8. Tomatoes are a big part of the famously healthy Mediterraneandiet. Many Mediterranean dishes and recipes call for tomatoes or tomato paste or sauce. Some recent studies, including one from The University of Athens Medical School, have found that people who most closely follow the Mediterranean diet have lower death rates from heart disease and cancer. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, who followed more than 39,000 women for seven years, found that consumption of oil- and tomato-based products — particularly tomato and pizza sauce — was associated with cardiovascular benefits.
  9. When breastfeeding moms eat tomato products, it increases the concentration of lycopenein their breast milk. In this case, cooked is best. The researchers also found that eating tomato products like tomato sauce increased concentrations of lycopene in breast milk more than eating fresh tomatoes did.
  10. Tomato peels contribute a high concentration of the carotenoids found in tomatoes. The amount of carotenoids absorbed by human intestinal cells was much greater with tomato paste enriched with tomato peels compared to tomato paste without peels, according to a study from Marseille, France. The tomato skin also holds most of the flavonols (another family of phytochemicals that includes quercetin and kaempferol) as well. So to maximize the health propertiesof tomatoes, don’t peel them if you can help it!

Juicy and sweet, fresh tomatoes are a delicious addition to salads, while the canned variety can be used to make delicious sauces for pasta dishes, stews and curries. But did you know that tomatoes also pack a whole host of health benefits too?

Although often treated as a vegetable in cooking, the tomato is actually a fruit that belongs to the nightshade family, along with aubergines, peppers and potatoes. They come in a range of sizes and varieties from small cherry to big beef, and traditionally they’re red in colour, but you can also get tomatoes in yellow, green, purple and orange.

What is the nutritional profile of tomatoes?

Tomatoes are mainly a carbohydrate with some fibre, but they are best known for their vitamin content which includes beta-carotene (which becomes vitamin A when consumed), vitamins C and E, some B vitamins and vitamin K. They also contribute some minerals including calcium and magnesium.

Are tomatoes good for heart health?

A hundred grams of tomatoes would provide about 6% of the Nutrient Reference Values (NRV) of potassium for adults. There is evidence that higher dietary potassium intake is associated with lower rates of stroke and may be associated with lower rates of heart disease.

Tomatoes contain a compound called lycopene, which gives them their red colour, and there is growing research into its properties and potential for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Are tomatoes good for your eyes?

Tomatoes contain a group of phytochemicals called carotenoids, including lycopene, lutein and beta-carotene. These compounds are important to maintain eye health and may protect against age-related macular degeneration and other eye diseases.

Are tomatoes good for your skin?

The carotenoids found in plants, including tomatoes, may help prevent UV damage in humans. A 2006 study found that after a 10-12 week study there did appear to be a decrease in sensitivity as a result of increasing dietary carotenoids. However, this is not to say that you won’t burn if you eat lots of tomatoes – it’s still important to follow guidelines and be careful in the sun to avoid UV damage. Read the NHS’s sun safety tips for more information.

Can tomatoes help with blood clotting and wound healing?

Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin K which is necessary for blood clotting and wound healing, with 100g of tomatoes containing 6 mcg of vitamin K. There is also increasing evidence that vitamin K may be of benefit in bone and cardiovascular health too.

The NHS recommends 1 mcg of vitamin K per kg of body weight and you should be able to easily achieve this through eating a varied and balanced diet.

Can tomatoes help reduce menopausal symptoms?

A 2015 study by the Nutrition Journal found that tomato juice intake did help alleviate some menopausal symptoms such as anxiety, resting energy expenditure and heart rate. This study was carried out on 95 women aged 40-60 years old and they had to consume 200ml of unsalted tomato juice, twice daily, for eight weeks. While this was a small trial, the results are encouraging and warrant further research into this area.

Is it better to cook tomatoes or eat them raw?

Research suggests that processing and cooking tomatoes can increase their nutritional value, in particular, their antioxidant activity and lycopene compounds.

Healthy tomato recipes

Ultimate tomato salsa
Classic roast tomatoes
Creamy tomato risotto
Spaghetti with smoky tomato & seafood sauce
More healthy tomato recipes

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This article was last reviewed on 16 September 2019 by Kerry Torrens.

Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a Registered Nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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