Tomato plants require feeding for the fruit to be able to grow and to then provide you with a healthy crop of tomatoes. However, this in itself opens up a rather interesting question that needs to be answered which is, do you use organic fertilizers or chemical fertilizers with your tomato plants?
Now, both have their own set of positive attributes as well as negative attributes and it is interesting to look at both sides in order to really determine which option you should go for.
What are Organic Fertilizers?
First, we have to look at what we actually mean by organic fertilizers as it is something that a number of people are perhaps not that sure about. In the strictest sense, an organic fertilizer is something that has been manufactured from minerals, animal matter, vegetable matter, or even human waste.
There are various forms of organic fertilizer but the most important part is that there are not additional chemicals added in order to produce the end product.
The Pros of Organic Fertilizers.
After that brief explanation of what we mean by organic fertilizers, we should discuss the different pros associated with using this on your tomatoes. In actual fact, there are a number of key points that are worth mentioning in order to potentially persuade you to go down this particular path with helping your tomatoes to grow.
1. Growing the Soil.
The first positive is that organic fertilizer is going to grow the soil and what we mean by this is that it is going to add various micro-organisms into the soil that will then be extremely beneficial. Also, the material that makes up the organic fertilizer (such as animal manure) is going to be broken down and will then help to bulk up the soil.
2. It Prevents Over-Fertilization.
Another advantage is that organic fertilizer is going to stop the soil from being filled with too many nutrients at the one time. This is primarily because of the fact that it is a slower release version of adding in the nutrients to the soil and the plant whereas chemicals can often hit the plant harder and in a shorter period of time.
3. It is Safe.
This is a major positive, but organic fertilizers are regarded as being perfectly safe as it is just natural products that are being added to the soil and given to the plant. There is no need to be concerned about toxic fumes or anything else as they just do not exist.
4. It Provides Trace Minerals.
Organic fertilizers is going to provide the soil and plant with a whole host of trace minerals as they are prominent in the natural make up of the fertilizer itself. The fertilizer can provide a number of micro-organisms that help with mineralization which then produces the correct levels of nitrogen and trace minerals for the plant.
5. It is Long Lasting.
As this approach takes time to be broken down into the soil and release all of that goodness it does mean that it is long lasting. That is why you only have to generally add it once at the start of the growing for the plant to feed off those nutrients for an extended period of time.
6. It is Recycling.
The fact that you are using waste in order to add minerals to the plant does mean that it is a form of recycling rather than just taking that waste product and throwing it out. As you would expect, recycling is good for the environment.
7. A Variety of Nutrients.
Finally, the organic fertilizer is capable of providing a whole host of nutrients for the plant to feed off and they are in their pure form rather than anything that has been created in a laboratory. Plants need a total of 13 nutrients to grow so providing them with this is imperative.
The Cons of Organic Fertilizers.
However, there are still some negative issues related to organic fertilizers and in the interest of fairness it is important that we look at them to help you with your assessment.
1. It Takes Longer.
If you are looking at getting those nutrients into the soil in a short period of time, then this is not the correct way of doing it. This approach takes so much time as nature has to break down the manure or waste product so you have to look at the long term picture.
2. Its Effectiveness is Limited to Seasons.
The way in which the fertilizer is added to the soil does mean that it places some restrictions on you as to when and how you can use it. In actual fact, a number of people discover that they are limited to seasons so there is some planning required to make sure that the soil has the correct nutrients.
3. Unsure of Nutrient Ratios.
Even thought it does contain nutrients, as it is a natural product it is impossible to know the ratios of the different nutrients unless you went ahead and had each thing analysed all on its own. This just means that there is some guess work in getting the levels correct.
4. Low Nutrient Content.
It is entirely possible that there is a low nutrient content in this fertilizer simply because you do not know what is in it or how much. It does mean that there is some guessing as to quantities but it is also difficult to basically ‘overdose’ on it.
What are Chemical Fertilizers?
Understanding what chemical fertilizers are is easier as it is clearly a type of fertilizer that is man-made and consists of various chemicals that have been mixed together in order to provide plants with various nutrients. Now, the chemicals that are included in it will vary from company to company and you should carefully read the label to see the ratios that are included in it. However, there are a number of positives and negatives with this approach as we will now explore.
The Pros of Chemical Fertilizers.
1. They are Efficient.
The first pro of using chemical fertilizers is that they are extremely efficient. You do not have to use too much for you to then get amazing results and they will even provide you with information on how much should be applied and how often.
2. They have Exact Ratios of Nutrients.
This is another advantage in that you know in advance what the ratios are with the nutrients as they have been put together by man. This balance is going to be more precise than you get with organic fertilizer simply because the plant can get exactly what it needs every single time.
3. Easy to Understand.
The instructions that come with this type of fertilizer is going to be so easy to understand and it will be difficult for you to make a mess and add the wrong amount of fertilizer at any given time. Anybody is able to add it even without any previous experience and without any fear of getting it wrong.
4. It has a High Nutrient Content.
Because it is man-made it does also mean that the nutrient content is going to be very precise and higher than you would get in organic fertilizer. This clearly has a number of benefits as you know that your tomato plant is going to be hit with the correct nutrients in a concentrated fashion leading to better growth.
5. It is Cheap.
Finally, these chemical fertilizers are actually very cheap to buy which does mean that they are really open to anybody. The fact that they are inexpensive is often something that prompts people into using them.
The Cons of Chemical Fertilizers.
1. It Harms the Soil.
The first negative is that these fertilizers have a tendency to harm the soil. You are putting man-made concoctions into the soil rather than incorporating real minerals and nutrients and a number of the chemicals are going to be toxic in various forms.
2. A Problem with Over Fertilization.
It is very easy for an individual to add too much fertilizer thanks to it coming in concentrated form rather than slow release forms as seen with the organic waste. People have a tendency to not dilute these fertilizers enough or over compensate and that can pose a problem.
3. They Have Toxic Chemicals.
This is a major problem but the chemical fertilizers do have toxic chemicals and you have to ask yourself the question as to whether or not you would like to still use them. Often, you are going to have to be careful when it comes to inhaling fumes and you will see a series of warnings on the labels.
4. There is a Danger with the Incorrect Application.
If you do not follow the instructions then there are some very real dangers associated with the incorrect application. Putting the fertilizer on the leaves of the plant can cause all kinds of problems and damage the plant itself so only put it on the soil and leave the plant alone.
5. Short Life Span.
These fertilizers are only created to work for a short period of time as it is all about hitting the soil and plant hard whereas organic versions are more about a long and slow release of nutrients over an extended period of time. However, it does mean you need to continually fertilize the plant but of course that can also cause problems.
6. They are Non-Recyclable.
As they are man-made it does mean that you are unable to recycle natural products. This is a once only opportunity and for some people that is going to be important.
7. They are a Single Type of Nutrition.
Finally, organic fertilizers provide nutrition to the soil in various forms but the same cannot be said with chemical fertilizers. What you see on the bottle is what you are going to get. There are no surprises and you will often have to then use other products to make sure that the soil and plant gets everything that it needs.
Make Your Choice.
So, there you have it the pros and cons of using both organic fertilizer as well as chemical fertilizer and it is now up to you as to which option you would like to take. Remember, they can both be beneficial to the soil and your tomato plants and you will certainly see a difference in the fruit that you then grow.
Which one would we recommend? Well, we prefer to leave that entirely up to you as there are so many different factors to take into consideration before you go ahead and start to add those nutrients to your tomato plants. The main thing is to remember that tomatoes really do need to be fed so it is important to make your choice and stick to it throughout the growing season.