Tomatoes setting fruit? Time to fertilize!

May 3, 2014

So, it's going to be 90 °F all weekend in Dallas y'all. Summer is right on schedule! If you planted your tomatoes on time and haven't been over-fertilizing through spring, you should be seeing baby fruits on the plants now. That means it's time to start a regular feeding regimen.

Tomato fruit halleck

When you continually fertilize tomato plants through spring, before they've set fruit, you can often end up with a whole lotta plant, but no tomatoes. Too much Nitrogen prior to flowering and fruit set will encourge plants to keep putting their energy into more green leafy growth, instead of into flowers and fruit production. That might be all fine and well in a more mild climate, but here in Texas you have to get plants flowering and setting fruit before the summer heat sets in. If you plant too late or over-fertilize in spring, plants can go into heat-delay and you get little to no harvest.

Best practice is to amend your soil with organic compost and composted manure at the beginning of the season and work in a dry organic fertilizer at time of planting. Then wait to feed again until plants start to set fruit.

Once baby fruit is about 1/4 it's mature size, start feeding your tomato plants with an organic tomato or vegetable fertilizer about every other week. That's a side-dressing of dry fertilizer. If you're using liquid feed, such as Hasta Gro, apply it to the roots and foliage weekly.  Apply and mix per the application rates on the package.

Cherry tomatoes will start to hit harvest time in mid- to late-May with slicers typically ready to pick in mid-June. Want to start your fall tomato transplants from seed? Do it now! Plant into the garden in late-June through early July.

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