You have to feed tomato seedlings properly, if you want them to grow. Seems simple enough but many home gardeners ignore this point.
Failure to do this simple job means they don’t grow as well as they should.
Not feeding properly is one of the root causes of spindly, leggy seedlings. Too little and the plants don’t grow. Too much and they shoot like crazy.
A Simple System
- Use one-eighth strength fish emulsion fertilizer on seedlings as soon as the first set of seed leaves has finished emerging. That is given to them whenever they get watered.
- When they have two fully-emerged true leaves, that to half-strength once a week.
- At four fully-emerged true leaves – go to full strength once a week (note you’ll be transplanting at four true leaves)
These are seed leaves.
These are true leaves at the top as they look like regular tomato leaves. You can see the larger seed leaves at the bottom. Ignore these
More Complicated System
You’ll hear about something called “Constant Liquid Feed” where the plants are fed every time they’re watered. It’s a more complicated system to set a minimum strength of fertilizer and always use that strength. In our nursery, everything off the seedling bench got fed every time I watered at 200 parts per million nitrogen.
Why Do It This Way?
It’s standardized. If you tell me your fertilizer is 1% nitrogen, we can figure out how much you need to feed in a gallon of water to feed the plants properly. If you tell me your fertilizer is 20% nitrogen, we can use the same formula to calculate this as well. It grows a consistent and wonderful plant.
Do We Need To Use An Injector For Seedlings
No. Frankly, it’s overkill in the home garden. You won’t have enough water pressure on seedlings to run a home scale injector. Unless you’re running a commercial operation, you won’t have an injector system in your seed starting area. A Hozon is a simple home based system but it takes a lot of water to run it – I use it outside now for the garden rather than indoors.
So Why Bring It Up?
Some folks like to know this stuff – and mess about with it.
Me? I like simple and effectives so that’s what I’ve told you in the beginning. 🙂
So You’re Saying To Mix The Fertilizer Up in Jug or Watering Can
For seedlings yes. It’s the easiest home system method. Easy and simple – but effective.