Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable grown in home gardens across America, according to the University of Illinois Extension office. These warm season perennials are grown as annuals and produce plump juicy fruit within 60 to 90 days of transplanting. Available in hundreds of cultivars, from tiny cherry tomatoes ideal for fresh garden salads to giant beefsteak tomatoes suitable for slicing, there is a tomato suitable for growing in nearly any climate. With proper care and adequate nutrients, tomatoes bloom and set abundant fruit in early summer, ripening in late summer or early fall.
Apply fertilizer when transplanting. Many prefer to add copious amounts of well-rotted compost or manure to the transplant hole, supplying nutrients and improving soil texture at the same time. One to 2 quarts are recommended. Granular fertilizer also can be used. Follow the recommended application rate on the package. Fertilizer must be worked into the existing soil to prevent injury to young roots.
Trace a circle 6 to 8 inches from the base of the plant, encircling the entire plant. Sprinkle granular fertilizer around the circle and work into the top 2 inches of soil so it gradually seeps into the soil with rain or watering, supplying the roots with vital nutrients.
Use water-soluble fertilizer or foliar feeder to provide supplemental feeding to growing tomato plants. Begin when plants are 8 to 10 inches high and apply every 10 to 14 days throughout the growing season. Foliar feeders provide immediate nutrients absorbed through the leaves.