How To Fertilize Tomato Plants

How To Fertilize Tomato Plants

Tomatoes are vigorous, fast growing, and heavy feeding plants which require fertilization a few times during the season. Tomatoes have specific nutritional needs such as nitrogen, phosphate, potash, calcium, magnesium, potassium and other micro-nutrients to build cell wall structure and increase plant vigor.

There has been much debate about what kind of fertilizer to use, how often to use it, and how to apply it. Here I will explain how I fertilize my tomato plants and what kind of fertilizers I use. I have always had very good results using these methods – producing robust tomato plants and a bountiful harvest.

Fertilizers I Use for Tomato Plants

When fertilizing tomato plants I use two types of fertilizer – granule and a liquid fertilizer. The granule fertilizer is Tomato-tone Organic Fertilizer, made by Espoma. I prefer to use Tomato-tone because it has a 3-4-6 guaranteed analysis and features over 3 million beneficial colony-forming microbes per pound. These beneficial microbes help to provide healthy soil which results in stronger roots and a better tomato plant. The 3-4-6 nitrogen, phosphate, potash make-up is ideal for producing large, plump tomatoes. Tomato-tone supplies calcium, magnesium and sulfur for an added tomato boost.

You can check out my review of Tomato-tone, as well.

Tomato-tone Tomato Fertilizer

Another granular tomato fertilizer that works very well is Tomatoes Alive! made by Gardens Alive. It is very similar to Tomato-tone and has a 6-2-2 guaranteed analysis of nitrogen, phosphate and potash.

The liquid fertilizer I use for my tomatoes is fish emulsion. Fish emulsion is just what it sounds like – emulsified fish. It boasts a 5-1-1 guaranteed analysis and will not burn plants like granular fertilizers. This is a great product for giving any plant a boost. A warning though – this stuff stinks to high heaven, so be prepared. The smell is worth the results!

Fish Emulsion Fertilizer

Click here to compare prices on the best organic tomato fertilizers!

How I Apply the Fertilizers

First thing I do is to gather up the products and tools I will be using – here they are:

  • the bag of Tomato-tone
  • the bottle of fish emulsion
  • a clean bucket or watering can
  • water
  • a plastic fork

That’s it!

Next I use 2 capfuls of fish emulsion for every gallon of water in the watering can, then fill the can with water, mixing the fish emulsion. Now my watering solution is ready to go.

I use mulch around my tomatoes, so I need to pull the mulch away from the stem to form a circle about 4 inches all the way around the plant.

remove mulch for fertilizing tomato plants

I take a good handful of the Tomato-tone and sprinkle it all the way around the plant, forming a fertilizer circle. I want the fertilizer to be about 3 inches away from the stem. NEVER let the fertilizer touch the plant stem.

tomato tone fertilizer

sprinkle fertilizer around tomato plant

Next I take the plastic fork and gently work the fertilizer into the first couple inches of soil. I am careful on this step not to go so deep that I may damage any plant roots. That would be bad. I just gently chop the plastic fork up and down, working my way around the stem.

work tomato fertilizer into soil

Once I have finished working in the fertilizer, I give the area a good drink of the fish emulsion/water solution. I like to give the plant a good soaking of at least a half gallon per plant.

water tomato fertilizer in well

After the watering is complete, I replace the mulch back around the plant and viola! my tomato plant is fertilized and on its way to a promising growing season. I then repeat the steps for all my tomato plants.

replace mulch after tomato fertilizing completed

I like to give my tomatoes a good watering of the fish emulsion mix about once every two weeks and use the Tomato-tone fertilizer once a month. Once the plants begin to fruit, I may give them a light dusting of Tomato-tone every 15 days or as needed if the plants are producing heavily.

Tomato-tone and fish emulsion can be used in the same way for peppers and eggplant since they have primarily the same needs as tomatoes.

Check Out These Great Organic Tomatoes & Fertilizers!

65 Comments on How To Fertilize Tomato Plants

  1. i was wondering if you have to use fertilizer if you are going use compost tea all season long thank you fred

    • Hi Fred – It really depends on the availability of nutrients in your soil. If you have amended your soil well with compost and organic matter, then the compost tea alone may be enough. Take into mind that tomatoes are heavy feeders when they begin setting fruit so they may need a little dash of phosphorus, potassium and other trace minerals during this time. It certainly will not hurt. Just remember not to over fertilize, which can do worse than not fertilizing at all.

      If you have well amended soil, I would give the tomatoes a good drink of compost tea once a week, and sprinkle a handful of organic fertilizer (or compost) around each plant when they begin to set fruit.

      I hope this answers your question and thanks for stopping by.

  2. I have used espoma for 4 yrs but not tom tone. I use plant tone which is 5-3-3 (not sure of pk numbers) and supplement with bat guano during blossom time for a little more phosphorus. I also hit them with worm tea from time to time.

    True my plants do grow extra large but I also get plenty toms.

    Most of my toms are in containers so I don’t think that 3 provides enough n. I put some sugar golds in ground and the plants grew to 7 ft or so loaded with cherries.

    Dr Earth has a great site for organic ferts although I have never tried them he also uses 5 for N. I definitely want to try a 3 sometime but not until I use up my existing supply. In any event I would be very surprised if I got more toms.

    • Hi Norm – I try to stay away from fertilizers with high numbers of nitrogen when it comes to tomatoes. Tomatoes do need some nitrogen levels, but too much nitrogen can lead to big, lush plants that are dark green, but very little fruit production.

      As long as the fertilizer has a nitrogen percentage between 3 to 6, I’m fine with it. Also, I only supplement with fertilizer about three times per season – once when transplanting, once a few weeks after transplanting, then one last time when the plants begin to set fruit. Over-fertilizing can actually be worse for the plant than not fertilizing. When in doubt, it is better to not add any fertilizer and just amend (or side dress) with good compost.

  3. I am a gardening enthusiast and I love the post. It seems to be pretty much in line with what I do except I use an 8-10-8 fertilizer(albeit that I need to add a slightly higher amount of nitrogen and phosphorous as my soil is slightly deficient in those)

    Once a month I spray my compost tea on my whole garden using fish water from my fish tank and certified organic compost. I mix up my recipes using vermicompost,etc. etc..

    One of the things I don’t think gets discussed enough is watering. If you are on city water, watering can be a little tricky for the compost tea or even good organic compost side dressings as chlorine and fluoride in the water can kill many of the beneficial organisms.

    So the gardener who doesn’t want to do a whole lot of extra work is pretty much stuck with mainstream fertilizers.

    However, if one is serious enough about their gardens there are some ways to water effectively utilizing the benefits of organic composts and compost tea.

    1) Buy a large holding tank, fill it and aerate it. Hook a pump up to it and build an irrigation system.(kinda expensive and some may not have room)

    2) Buy some 5 gallon buckets and fill them then let then sit 24-48 hours and the chlorine and fluoride will evaporate and use those to water(more space saving and economical, however not practical for large gardens)

    3.) This method works well and still gives you a lot of the benefits of organic gardening and less hassle(sort of) What I do because I have a relatively large garden, is about 2:00 am I start a batch of compost tea the same day I am going to water. After I start my brew, I go out and give everything a really good drink(by the time my tea is ready the chlorine and other harmful stuff will have already evaporated). Then 24 hours later at about 2 am I spray everything with my brew. And throughout the rest of the week I have 5 gallon buckets pre-filled(I let them sit for at least 24 hours so the chlorine will evaporate off) and do light watering as needed for dryer days and just enough so that my plants don’t get too stressed in rising heat. This has served me well as far as yield, affordability and convenience.

    Anyhow great post!

    • Hi Jake – You present some very good observations on using city water for watering vegetables! I, too, live in the city and rely on tap water, but try to water as much as I can with water from a rain barrel. This works pretty well until it doesn’t rain for a month and the rain barrel goes dry.

      I agree that water used to brew compost tea should be left out to allow the chlorine and other chemicals to evaporate. Even allowing it to sit out before any watering is a good idea. I think this is something I may blog about in the very near future.

      Thanks for your awesome insights, Jake!

    • Hi Jake – Thank you for your very interesting insights! Rain water is by far better for the vegetables over city water. I have a rain barrel but it can go dry pretty quickly if rainfall is slack. I have to rely on city water for my vegetable garden at that point.

      I never thought about city water killing the microbes when brewing compost tea. Thanks for bringing it up!

      The bucket method sounds like a good idea, but that could be a pain with a large garden. Storing the water in a 55 gallon drum could be an option too. Thanks for your input!

  4. Hi there. I just stumbled across your post and have a question for you. I just watered in some fish emulsion on my tomato plants and I’m wondering what the fish emulsion supplies that the granular fertilizer does not. I’m a fairly new gardener and I’m afraid to put too much of anything on them for fear of burning them up. (I burned up my squash plants last fall overfertilizing them). I put the fish emulsion on there today because I’d read it is good for tomato plants, but hadn’t thought of adding granular fertilizer as well. Just wondering what does the fish emulsion do that regular fertilizer does not? Thanks!

    • Hi Kari! Great question and thank you for asking. I like to use both granular (the Tomato-tone or Gardener’s Supply Tomato Fertilizer) and fish emulsion because the granular fertilizer is a slow release fertilizer. This means the nutrients it supplies is released over the course of a few weeks or months. This helps to ensure the tomato plant receives nutrients for a longer period.

      The fish emulsion supplies nutrients pretty much right then and there. This is really important when you are transplanting the tomatoes in the garden because they need those nutrients right then to help reduce transplant shock as much as possible.

      So you can say by adding the slow release granular fertilizer and then water with diluted fish emulsion it gives the plant a one-two punch of nutrients. You don’t need to worry about burning your plants with fish emulsion because it has a very low amount of nitrogen (it’s high levels of nitrogen and sometimes ammonia that burns plants). You could literally dump a whole bottle of fish emulsion on your plant and it will not hurt it. It would just waste a lot of fish emulsion. πŸ™‚

      You should be a bit more careful when using granular fertilizers as they can burn, especially synthetic ones. That’s why I never advise gardeners to use stuff like Miracle-Gro. That stuff will burn them in a heartbeat.

      Also, you really need to fertilize tomato three times a season at that most. It’s better to not add fertilizer than to over fertilize. I hope this answers your question!

  5. Jake i have read manny coments from costomers and you sound verry helpful thanks a lot what you have done, JD Linn

  6. I don’t have fish emulsion. I do have ultra green-all purpose plant food and bone meal. I don’t want to have to go to the store until I run out. Are these fertilizers just as good right now? On the back of the all purpose plant food10-10-10, there are’nt any instructions to feed a single tomato plant. I also have a raised rose bed, annuals, potatoes, cukes, garlic, cantaloupe, asparagus, corn, okra, carrots (which I planted over a week ago and havn’t seen seedlings yet), herbs and a bush type bean plant. Please share all you can on the benifit or these fertilizers for my garden. Thankyou, Darlene

    • Hi Darlene – The all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer can be used on your corn, but I wouldn’t use it for the tomatoes unless you have a nitrogen deficiency in your soil. It’s a bit too much nitrogen for tomatoes. Using a fertilizer high in nitrogen can cause you to have big, lush plants, but little fruit.

      The bone meal is fine to sprinkle around your plants. Use about a half a cup per plant and water it in well.

      As for fertilizer for your tomatoes I would recommend using one that is specially formulated for tomatoes. If the 10-10-10 is all you have at the moment using it once should be fine for the tomatoes, but I wouldn’t use it much more than that.

      The Tomato-tone I mentioned is really good as is Gardener’s Supply’s tomato fertilizer. Any fish emulsion or seaweed extract is good. Of course, you can always side dress the plants with compost, worm castings, or use those items to brew your own compost tea to give the plants a liquid fertilizer.

      • I am a new gardener and Im growing a vegie garden in a raised bed,I bought goodsoil, conditioned it with dolamite,and covered it in suger mulch, I bought young tomatoe seedlings and planted them after watering them in for a week. I have chooks, and Ive been told this is great fertilizer, and have made tea with it and I no I have to dilute it heaps, can I use this and how often should I fertilize.

  7. Hi Tee. Your site has been very helpful. I am now armed and ready with a bag of Tomato Tone. My raised bed is ready (topsoil plus some quality manure mixed in). I know what to do once the tomato plant is doing it’s thing . . . but how should I fertilize when I’m transplanting my tomato pots from the nursery to my raised bed? Also, I’ve read some folks suggest planting low enough so the first set of leaves is covered, but to cut off the leaves first. Isn’t it safer for the plant to just leave the leaves on when planting low? Finally, should I make a home-made soil mix using peat moss or compost when planting the tomatoes in a bed only prepped with delivered topsoil and some manure? Thanks. (3 questions, I’m being needy πŸ™‚ )

    • Hi Anita – when transplanting the tomatoes, I just throw a handful of Tomato-tone in the bottom of the hole and mix it a bit with compost or earthworm castings. Then just set the tomato plant right on top of it all (just reach in the hole and mix it all up by hand first).

      I do recommend planting the tomatoes deep. Plant it deep enough so only the top two or three sets of limbs are exposed above ground. I do cut the limbs off that are below this point. It doesn’t harm the plant to do this. See those tiny little hairs on the stem of the plant? They will begin growing roots from the stem once covered with soil. This helps the plant grow a much stronger root system over planting them at soil level. Stronger roots = stronger, more productive plant.

      Ideally, you want the soil mixture to be 1/3 top soil, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 sphagnum moss (or peat moss) with a good scoop of perlite. The perlite will help water retention.

      I hope this answers your questions. If you have any more just hit me up! πŸ™‚

      • Tee, thanks so much for your quick reply. We’re looking forward to our harvest of green zebras, black krims, yellow pears and mortgage lifters! We will dedicate our first harvest to you. πŸ˜‰

  8. I went out to buy Tomato fertilizer yesterday and noticed that the two Tomato brands Home depot carried had 18 to %19 Nitrogen in them..
    That is way more than tomato tone. why do the companies make these fertilizers if too much nitrogen is bad?

    • Hi Kevin – great question! Unfortunately, I do not know the answer to that. Nitrogen is not necessarily bad if you have a severe nitrogen deficiency. Typically it is synthetic fertilizers that you find with high nitrogen levels, while organic fertilizers have a better ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

      As to why they continue to sell it? I don’t know…. to make money. It’s perhaps the same for tobacco companies. They continue to sell cigarettes even though they know it causes health problems.

  9. I accidently added too much fertilizer into my large buckets. I grow grape or cherry tomatoes in 12 buckets. Last summer my plants died. Will they be OK this year. I airrated the soil really well, but I don’t want to waste money on plants if the fertilizer left in the buckets from last summer will kill them anyway. How can I fix this problem. I cannot dummp the soil & put fresh soil in.
    Thank you.

  10. Hello Tee,
    Thanks for your informative article and good follow-up discussion. It’s very helpful. … I’m a longtime gardener who still seems to be a novice because I guess I’m making a lot of mistakes. I haven’t fertilized much, nor added to the soil. This year, I’m trying to correct that! …

    In the last few years, our tomato plants here in the Pacific Northwest have looked pretty pathetic by summer’s end. I think they may be suffering from a virus. …

    This year, we built a greenhouse, bought some tomato plants because of the late construction date and transplanted them into larger pots, using potting soil mixed with unfinished compost and garden dirt. The tomatoes did OK for a while, but soon developed blotchy looking, yellowish leaves, growing kind of tall but not very green or lush. I’m afraid the compost (which had a lot of uncomposted maple leaves and some walnut leaves) must have contaminated the roots β€” that and perhaps the virus in the garden dirt that I had put in the compost. Sigh!

    We happen to have purchased a large pile (six yards) of mint compost, which I notice is loaded with red wrigglers. The stuff is practically 1/3 to 1/2 worm castings! It looks great.

    I also purchased the makings of an organic fertilizer (soy bean meal, cottonseed meal, bone meal, kelp meal, calcium carbonate and dolomite lime, roughly using Steve Solomon’s recipe []).

    Now, I’m concerned that I may burn the plants if I use both. We’re having such a cold spring that it’s hardly worthwhile to put the tomatoes outside yet here in the Willamette Valley (temps roughly 10 degrees below average, barely approaching high 60s, maybe 70).

    My question: Can I burn the plants with a combination of mint compost and Solomon’s organic fertilizer?

    (I’m not sure of the nutrient makeup of the mint compost, although this St. Paul, Ore. distributor claims an analysis of 3.5-.5-3.5 β€” The organic fertilizer makeup appears to be maybe 6-10-2(?) Thanks.

  11. Your post was very helpful, but I was wondering if you might be able to answer a question for me. I am new to gardening, and I am finding that each year, my tomatoes are suffering from blossom end rot. I was wondering if I am able to give the soil a calcium boost along with my 8-5-5 organic fertilizer granules, or if that would be over kill. I’m just wondering how I can prevent this problem early on in the season.

  12. I just added Tomato Tone to my tomatoes and Garden Tone to my cukes, peppers and basil. (This was just a few days ago.) I’ve also just harvested my first batch of homemade compost from my compost bin. So I’m wondering how long I should wait before adding the homemade compost. Please advise.


    • Hi Lisa, you can add the compost to your plants as soon as it is finished. As long as there isn’t any raw manures in the compost then it’s good to go right away.

      • Thanks, Tee!

        I did use both the Tomato Tone and compost and the tomatoes are looking great. The Tomato Tone bag says to use it monthly. How about compost? How often should I add compost to my tomatoes? And is it different for tomatoes in the ground vs. in pots?

        Also (separate tomato question)…One of my tomatoes in pots (which I bought as a more mature plant, so it already has fruit on it) is showing signs of blight. I’ve tried cutting off infected leaves and someone suggested spraying a product called Serenade. Have you had success with this product (or do you have any other recommendations once the plant already shows sign of blight)?



        • Hi Lisa – Really, you can use compost as much as you want. Compost is more of a soil amendment than it is a fertilizer. Adding it to the soil helps to improve the structure of the soil – helping it to drain better, yet hold moisture.

          As far as the difference between in the ground and pots, compost is beneficial in both.

          I’ve never used Serenade so I can’t speak for how it works. Blight is very difficult to treat and once your plant contracts it the chances of saving it are slim unless you catch it very early – VERY early. By the time we notice the blight it is already too late.

          The best thing to do is remove the plant, destroy it and dump it in the garbage (do NOT add it to the compost pile). This will help prevent blight from spreading to other plants. You may lose one plant, but you will save the rest.

          I have heard that regular treatments of a copper fungicide can help slow it down, but I think it is best to sacrifice the plant.

          • Anyone have pics of tomato blight? I am also in the northwest and I see leaves curling on one of my plants. Some plants have somewhat yellowing leaves. There are no insects visible. We have had an amazingly cool and wet spring and still have had more than our fair share of wind. Any thoughts? We are just now starting to get spring weather (50 degree nights mid 60’s daytime). I have 3 plants, each in a 20 gallon pot on my south west facing deck. I’m using tomato tone and fish emulsion (but somehow am still a little unclear about how much of each to use and when).

  13. I have a real problem with my tomatoes. I have planted only Heirlooms, and we got a lot of rain this past week. I did use black week barrier in my garden.
    the problem is I noticed that my tomato leaves are curling. There is good growth on top, but the bigger older leaves are curling. I do not see any dark spots, But the leaves are now kind of rippling, almost like a seersucker pattern on them, and they have irregular growth patterns, and the veins are thick. My husband says its too much fertilizer. I sprayed them with fungicide just in case that was the problem. If it is too much fertilizer how can I remedy the situation?

    • Hi Kim – Sometimes the leaves on the bottom of a tomato curls due to some type of stress. Stress can be caused by very hot temperatures – the leaves will curl in an attempt to cool off. Generally if this is the case, it’s really nothing to worry about and the plant will still produce just fine. I have this occur with my plants as well, and if it is just the bottom sets of leaves I just cut them off and add to the compost pile.

      On the other hand leaf roll can be caused by rainy weather. If this is the case then planting in soil that drains well can help.

      All in all, if all you see is the leaves at the bottom curl up with no other distinct spots or yellowing then the plant will still produce well.

  14. Hi Tee. Would you please settle a debate between my brother and grandfather. My brother wants to apply a small bag of phosphate thats marketed for flowering plants to his tomato plants instead. He’s hoping this will reap a much larger quantity and higher quality tomato. What do you think? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Chad – While phosphate is a nutrient that helps promote flowering and fruiting, I wouldn’t recommend using just phosphate on the plants. It is much better to use a balanced fertilizer that contains a little nitrogen, a kick of both phosphate and potassium.

      The best tomato fertilizers I’ve found have something like 3-4-5, 4-6-4, or 1-4-6.

      Giving your tomatoes a high dose of one nutrient over the others can actually end up being detrimental in the long term. It is better to balance the nutrients as much as possible.

  15. my tomatoes are just about to form after dropping the flowers. should i now apply any fertilizer , and if so what type? or do i simply leave the plant until harvest?
    much thanks

    • Hi Rigel – You can add a handful of fertilizer around each plant now if you like. I would recommend either the Tomato-tone or Gardener’s Supply Organic Tomato Fertilizer.

  16. Hi Tee,

    I just started my tomato plants in pots a month ago and im getting curled leaves, another will full yellow leaves here and there (but their not dead), and a couple with spotting and yellow around the edges of the leaf. Also, some of the flowers are dying off before they produce, but some produce just fine. I mixed in compost with my soil, have treated them recently with bone meal, blood meal, fish emulsion, and epsom salt to try and hit all areas of the problem. I just added the epsom salt today (a very light dusting), and thats when I noticed these problems. My plants get a minimum 8 hrs a day sun, but it has been in the 90s lately. Im watering every other day, but not too much, just enough to keep the soil moist.

    I have to admit, about 3 days ago, I added too much blood meal to my plants, but the next evening, I flushed all of the plants out throughly with water to get rid of some of the excess. I dont have access to Tomato Tone or anything else you have mentioned, so can you tell me if what I have used is ok? And, how should I use the stuff. I also have Miracle Gro granular fertilizer that I use every 2 weeks. Can you give me an easy way to feed my plants with none of these problems and very good results? Its driving me crazy!!! Please help!

    • Hi John – If the leaves on the bottom branches of the plant are curling it is probably just a sign of stress. Most of the time this is not detrimental to the production of the plants. It doesn’t look all that great, but the plant should still produce just fine.

      If the curled leaves have purple coloration in the veins of the leaf, it could be a sign of curly top virus. More than likely, your are just stress.

      You may want to feed your plants once or twice a week with fish emulsion. Mix two capfuls of fish emulsion to every one gallon of water, and feed the plants with the mixture. This will supply some very good nutrients to the plant which should perk them up. If the yellowing is bad, give the plants some every day for 10 – 14 days.

      Bone meal and blood meal is OK to add in small quantities if there is a nutrient deficiency in your soil. Try to skip the Miracle-Gro all together and just stick with fish emulsion, compost, and compost tea.

      The flowers are dropping off due to the very warm temperatures more than likely. Tomato fruit set will slow down, or stop, when temperatures get above 90Β°F. There’s not much you can do about it except wait until it cools back down some.

  17. Thanks for your responses Tee!

    Another thing……In the last few days, I have seen some very small and thin, almost transparent mushrooms growing in the soil of 2 plants. I pulled them out, but expect them back. Do you know what this is?

    I also removed stems from the lower halfs of my plants because they were either laying in the soil, or the leaves were dying. I guess I was pruning. Any idea on the mushrooms and if me removing the lower stems is ok? Thanks in advance!


    • Hi John – the mushrooms are sprouting up due to moist soil conditions. They don’t pose any harm to the plants, just a sign that your soil is very damp. Just keep in mind that overly damp soil can possibly lead to fungal diseases, like blight. Removing the lower limbs is highly recommended. These are usually the first to contract a disease due to coming in contact with the soil. You did the right thing removing them.

      Try to allow your soil to dry out some. I know that depends on rainfall, but hold off on watering until things have dried a bit.

  18. Hi there, I was searching the web for some answers to some problems I am having with my tomato plants this year and found you. What a great site!
    My tomatoes are turning bronw on the bottoms, I found the answer to this in an earlier post and will remove them and add calcuim. The other problem I am seeing is some of the leaves at the bottom (are still green) but have a lighter tone green spotting to them. What causes this and how can I correct it?

    • Hi Linda – It could be a few different things that could cause the spotting on the bottom leaves. Could you take a photo of the leaves in question and email it to me? You can use the contact form on the Contact page. There’s an uploader on the form where you can attach a photo.

      A picture of what you are talking about will help me to possibly identify what’s going on.

      Thanks! πŸ™‚

  19. Paul - Santa Cruz,CA // September 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm // Reply

    I applied about a 1/2 gallon of diluted fish emulsion to each of my tomato plants, when they were at full bloom and producing their first tomatoes. The soil was well taken care of and fertilized with manure and some granular. About 2 weeks later, the tomato plants turned somewhat brown and the tomatoes turned dry. Is this a result of over-fertilizing with fish emulsion or possibly not enough water?


  20. I noticed no one mentioned that raw crumbled comphrey leave put down in botton of tomatoe hole when planted give you fantasstic healthy tomatoe that produce abundantly and my them superior on resising and blight bugs drought cold weather tolerance and also more drought resistance also when you grow BORAGE in and around your tomatoe patch you have great healthy tomatoe plants and fruit and also horn worm and other bugs stay away try it I did with fantastic results also in damp weather I especially dilute milk with 9 parts water and water the soil around plant and spray it it not only provides calcium for vigorous growth and root and fruit set but it has a tendicy to keep away downy mildew and keep away other problems away especiall in damp weathe this is also critical to use on ziccinni and other squash be careful to keep it 9 parts water to 1 part milk or the plant has difficulty accessing it up the root and up the stem to become available and beneficial to growth vigor and fruit set

  21. Hi Tee,
    I grow in a high tunnel and use red plastic mulch to cover my rows and irrigate with drip lines. How would you use Tomato Tone if you were growing in a high tunnel? I have been told by others how much they like using this product. I’m not sure if the method that you show at the top of this page will work for me. Using drip lines, the surface area around the bases of my tomato plants don’t get drenched like they would during a rain event or hand-watering. If the initial application receives aprox. 1/2 gal. of fish emulsion/water, will that be enough to push the Tomato Tone downwards into the soil far enough so that the drip irrigation will continue to leach the nutrients to the roots? I would like to know if you have any suggestions on a way to use Tomato Tone in my tunnel? Thanks for any info that you can provide me. Lots of good stuff on your website.

    • Hi Dale – I am not real sure how your tunnel is set-up, but you should be able to use the Tomato-tone in a similar manner as if there was no tunnel. When using plastic mulch I generally cut an “X” in the plastic when planting the tomato seedlings. I cut the “X” large enough so I can come back later and fold back the flaps to gain access to the soil around the plants.

      Then sprinkle a handful of the Tomato-tone around each plant and water it in with the fish emulsion mixture. Once I’m done I simply fold the flaps back around the plant and move on to the next plant to repeat the process.

      Since you are using drip irrigation it should supply enough water over the course of a week to distribute the nutrients to the roots. Tomato-tone is a slow release fertilizer so this should work just fine.

      I hope this answers your questions, Dale. If you have any more, or want to discuss this further, please ask away!

      • Tee,
        Thanks for the answers, but one more if you don’t mind. Will adding the Tomato Tone to my plants help with BER? I noticed that the Tomato Tone has 5% calcium in the mix. I know many people put Epsom Salts in the bottom of their holes when they transplant to help with this condition. How do you control blossom end rot? Thanks again.

        • Tee,
          Never mind, I found your page that deals with BER. I hadn’t gotten that far though your site, and found the answer today. Great site. Thanks.

        • Hi Dale – There are many things people use for blossom end rot, Epsom salt being one. You already found the page on blossom end rot, but I’ll add a few things.

          The biggest thing you can do to prevent BER is to water as consistently as possible. This is difficult to manage due to fluctuations in weather conditions. Epsom salts have worked well for helping with BER in tomatoes and squash in my garden, coupled with watering as consistently as possible. I use soaker hoses to help keep watering the same each day. I tend to not water for a couple days after a good rain, then go back to my watering routine after.

          Even when watering consistently and using Epsom salt I will still get some BER during the first batch of fruit. It seems like after the first batch the BER isn’t an issue any longer. No matter what you do you can still expect to lose a few fruit due to BER each season.

  22. Hello,
    I was just wondering if Osmocote would be good for the tomatoes as well?? I use that on some of my plants and it works great.

  23. I kept a tomato plant in my window all winter and just planted it outside last weekend. We had a bad hail storm last night and now it’s just a stick with 2 itty bitty leaves left. Is there anything I can do to save the poor thing?

  24. Just discovered your site and am thrilled at the excellent information about growing tomatoes!! My question is about watering. I live in Northeastern PA and I never know if I should water everyday or once a week or let nature take its course. My plants are in a raised bed. Please advise how often and what time of day is best for watering tomato plants! Thank you!!

  25. Hello Tee.

    I live in Alabama and have green tomatoes that are between the size of a golf ball and a baseball. Some are getting ripe and I feel they should be larger. At this point is there any specific fertilizer that I could apply that will increase the tomato size? I am growing Better Boy tomatoes.

  26. Greate post. Keep writing such kind of info on
    your blog. Im really impressed by your site.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about bed bug spray.


  27. I just planted a handful of tomato plants last weekend in my back yard garden. It gets tons of sun and seems like a place that tomato plants would love…..but…. the leaves on the plants are sort of curling in on them selves. I read somewhere that this is because my soil lacks some essential minerals. Does that sound right? What can I do to make my soil not suck now that I have already planted.

    Any help would be much appreciated.


  28. Hi,
    I put an 8-10-8 fertilizer directy on my potted tomatoes. i am wondering if I made a boo boo and burned them as my lack Krim are loooking droopy.

  29. Thanks for your site. I’m enjoying it and learning a lot. I’m growing 3 kinds of tomatoes for the first time here in Western WA (juane flamme, gold nugget and sweet & neat). This weekend I potted them in 20 gallon black plastic planters on my western facing deck. I used Whitney Farms organic potting soil and used a 6-4-4 organic fertilizer plus bone meal as well. Our weather here on the north WA coast is cool (thus the black plastic pots). i bought the Tomato Tone. With all those nutrients do I still need to use the fish emulsion? What is the purpose of it? Thanks so much!

    • Grace Blackmon // July 5, 2013 at 12:14 am // Reply

      I was looking for Tomato Tone and fish emulsion at Home Depot and walmart and Lows but they don’t have them,
      What store is selling those items.
      I purchased Alaska Fish Fertilizer today.
      Is it same as Fish emulsion.
      thank you so much

  30. I have 2 tomato plants but the tomatoes aren’t growing . The plant haves flawers but they fall of.How can I fix it?

  31. Hi Tee – I use fresh urine mixed with water, at an 8 to 1 ratio. What N-P-H would this be equivalent to ?

  32. Where can you find these fertilizers at?I would like to try these products in my garden this season..thanks,bryan

  33. Having a problem with my cucumbers. I planted the pickling variety in a pot, because I live in an apartment. I have wire that I used as a trellis to grow upward. They’re forming fat little cucumbers with pointed ends. I haven’t tasted them, yet, so, I’m not sure how they taste. They’re producing lots of fruit, but none that are shaped, normally. HELP, PLEASE!!!


  34. Hello, I’m wondering if you had any thoughts or suggestion on how to use the Tomato-tone on an upside down planter. I have a Flambeau Upside Down Patio Planter with 4 Sun Gold plants growing out of the bottom. I can’t think of a way of adding the Tomato-tone to the soil. The hole each plant is growing out of is only about 2.5″ in diameter, so the fertilizer would be very close to the stem, and that’s only if it stays in the soil which is unlikely since it’s upside down. Any thoughts? Could I maybe soak the Tomato-tone in a solution of water and spray my plants with that?

  35. my tomatoes are in 12 inch containers and I used miracle grow flower and vegtable soil my plants looked great for awhile then the leaves turned purple on two plants and dryed up and fell off the other two all four have produced fruit do you know what might have happened?

  36. folks my toms are some of the top toms,in all of ga, i have raised beds, if u feed the soil, the soil will feed u, in the fall months ,i load up beds with leaves shred , use a lawn mower on them run over them 2 times, ,i add about 4 inches deep, then i add 1 inch of rabbit manure, then dig holes ,12inches deep all over garden 2 months before planting ,add kitchen scraps, then when planting time comes ,i use rabbit manure tea, put 5 lbs in a onion bag,or nylon stocking,put this ,into 5 gal bucket of water rain best , if not use house water,let it sit 48 hrs tho, then i add 4 tbs of unsulferd molasses,4 tbs of fish emulsion, use my aquarm pump in this for 3 days, aqrm pumps are cheap 8 10 dollars, folks my garden from this is one top gardens in usa, not bragging just truth, thousands of worms in garden, loveeeee rabbit manure, my tom plants were 11 ft tall last year just loaded to top. but best part,of all this i gave 90 percent to others lol lol if in ga come see me love talking gardening tu bobby

  37. Tomato plants grow tall but does not produce a lot of fruit any suggestion

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