User avatar
madonnaswimmer
Senior Member
Posts: 146
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:41 am
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

What fertilizer to buy?

This was my first time growing tomatoes at all, and I decided to grow from seed using the great info from this forum. My grandmother (who had tried repeatedly to grow them from seed with no success) was very impressed with the results--my tomatoes are doing GREAT! They are about 10 inches tall and look pretty darned healthy!

Once this cold snap is over (we actually had a frost advisory last night that had me moving my plants inside at 3am...don't ask why I was up that late!), I will be planting them in the ground (hopefully this weekend).

I realize, though, that I still have not fertilized them even once! The problem was that I went to my local Menard's/home improvement store, and every brand of tomato fertilizer has completely different N-P-K numbers. Like, VASTLY different! Not even the same proportions! I even tried my garden center-- same problem. So I walked away from the stores with nothing.

I don't believe I have ready access to things like fish fertilizer or kelp fertilizer, etc. I do have a compost heap, although it's a bit young in the making. I am hoping to buy granules I can shake onto the soil around the plant. What numbers would be best for tomatoes?

I did have my soil tested this year (I am in a new house), and it did test low for nitrogen and potassium-- I was going to add these broadly in the garden. Not sure if that makes a difference for what you'd recommend.

Thanks!

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: What fertilizer to buy?

Later on when your compost pile has produced some finished compost, I think that is the best thing for tomatoes, just good rich organic soil. In the meantime, your plants are still young. Since your soil fertility is a bit low, for planting them with, any good balanced fertilizer would be fine. Once the tomato plants are more mature and starting to set fruit, you will want to fertilize with something that is lower in Nitrogen, higher in Phosporus and especially Potassium (K). I think you found a lot of variation, because it isn't rocket science. If the nutrients the plant needs are there in available form, it will take what it needs. So probably any of what you were seeing would be fine. I would look for something that is derived from natural sources and has lots of micro-nutrients & trace minerals, as well as the NPK.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11261
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: What fertilizer to buy?

Tomatoes are heavy feeders so as Rainbow said, almost any complete fertilizer will do. If you can find a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 1:2:2 or thereabouts it would be good. 5-10-10 is ideal but you could use half as much 10-20-20 to get the same ratio. Make sure it contains micros. Work some compost into the soil before you plant your tomatoes. The compost will help the soil to retain some water, and improve tilth. Some people also add some calcium for BER. I work some starter fertilizer into the soil at the bottom of the planting hole before planting tomatoes, then I side dress.

I plant my tomatoes in 18 gallon containers so It takes about 1/2 cup of starter fertilizer mixed into the soil and then the tomatoes are side dressed at the time of flowering, first fruit and monthly thereafter.

if your tomatoes won't be planted for some reason, you can use a liquid fertilizer on the seedlings. Tomato seedlings that have a purplish color to the undersides of the leaves are usually getting phosphorus deficient. It corrects quickly with supplements or transplanting.

To find out what the best fertilizer is for your situation a soil test would be ideal. Then you would know exactly how much and what kind of fertilizer you need.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

User avatar
vinyl217
Full Member
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri May 10, 2013 10:31 pm
Location: East Central Illinois

Re: What fertilizer to buy?

Since you mentioned a Menard's is nearby, I suggest the Jobe's Organic Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer. I used it last year with excellent results and picked up this year's today. It's on sale here for $5.97 a bag. They also have an Alaska brand Tomato fertilizer for $6.99 that I picked up to try as well.
"Real tomato ketchup, Eddie?" - Clark W. Griswold

User avatar
madonnaswimmer
Senior Member
Posts: 146
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:41 am
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Re: What fertilizer to buy?

Thanks, everyone!

Return to “TOMATO FORUM”