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Care & Feeding of Your Tomatoes

Learn about how much water and fertilizer your tomato needs after transplanting

Your Relationship With Your Tomato
Like any other relationship, you’ll get the most out of this one if you a) show up, and b) pay attention. Visit your tomato regularly. Daily visits are nice, but weekly is fine. When harvest time comes, you may feel compelled to hover—but that’s okay. During visits, check in with the plant. Inspect from bottom to top. It may need a drink, extra support, grooming, or help with pests.

Water
After transplanting, water when the top inch of soil is dry (or cheat—use a moisture meter). Temperature, wind, and the soil type will affect how fast the soil dries out. It’s easy to water too much. We recommend that you don’t think of “regular watering.” Do not try to keep the soil moist. Instead, make it your goal to not let the soil dry out completely.

When you see tiny fruit on your tomato, cut way back on water (and fertilizer). This change tells your tomato that it is time to focus on producing fruit. Water the ground around the plant—try not to let water splash up onto the leaves. Water splashing up from the soil can spread disease.

Food
Mix a handful of tomato or vegetable fertilizer—preferably organic—into the soil of the hole or container. Add compost for richer soil. Scratch a handful of organic fertilizer or compost into the surface soil once a month. Do not overfeed! The nitrogen in fertilizer (the first number on the label) encourages leaf and stem growth. If you want your plant to focus on producing fruit, cut back on nitrogen.When fall is approaching, cut way back on fertilizer and water. If leaf ends start to turn yellow during early or mid-season, you may need more fertilizer. Phase it in gently and see if you notice an improvement.