How to Use Manure in Tomato Containers

Updated April 17, 2017

Manure is one of the oldest, best and simplest fertilisers for all of your plants, including tomatoes. Tomatoes grown in containers are convenient and can be moved to find the best sunlight, but the soil in the containers needs the same special treatment as the soil in your garden. Knowing how to use manure correctly as a fertiliser will minimise odour and prevent overpowering the plants with nutrients.

Collect cow, horse or chicken manure. You will need approximately 9.07kg. of wet manure per plant to make enough compost for the entire growing season. Collect the fresh manure at least six weeks before you plan to fertilise your plants for the first time.

Compost the fresh manure by placing it in a heap and covering it with a plastic sheet. Fresh manure is too hot and contains enough nitrogen and ammonia to smother young plants, so composting the manure is a vital step. Compost the manure for at least six weeks, but for as long as six months.

Plant tomatoes in soil mixed with manure compost. Mix approximately 1 qt. of manure into the soil for each plant.

Fertilise plants every two weeks, and again at first fruit. Plants need approximately 1 qt. of compost mixed with the same amount of soil at each fertilisation, so remove old soil if necessary and replace it with the compost-soil mixture.

Make a manure tea for plants that need an extra boost. Make the tea by putting two shovelfuls of manure into a porous bag (like a hessian bag) and "steeping" it in a garbage can full of water for a day or two. Apply the tea to wet soil.


Chicken manure makes the best tomato fertiliser, but must be composted for longer than horse or cow manure because of its higher nutrient concentration.


Never use cat or dog faeces, which is highly toxic, for composting.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic sheeting
  • Porous bag
  • Water
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About the Author

Based in southern Indiana, Kristin McFarland has been a freelance writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in the "Indiana Daily Student," "Indianapolis Business Journal," "River Falls Journal," "The Berkeley Daily Planet" and "Rio Grande Sun." McFarland earned a Master of Arts in journalism from Indiana University.