Watering Tomato Plants

by WhiskeynGolf
(San Diego)

Question:


I would like to know how much water my tomato garden really needs. I have had some success in the past, but i was told I would get more tomatoes and less disease by watering less. This doesn't make sense to me. How often should I water.

These are 7 different types of tomatoes in large ceramic urns on the patio. I try not to get water on the leaves. Is this a wives tale?

An avid tomato buff, in my second year of growing more than one plant.

Thanks,
WhiskeynGolf

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Answer:

This is a great subject to discuss. First of all, avoiding water to the leaves during watering is not a wives tale. It's the best way to avoid Tomato Blight. This is a disease that occurs because moisture is allowed to lay on the surface of the leaves. Watering with sprinklers, for example, is a favorite of many. But with tomato plants, it's always best to avoid such practices, but rather water at the base of the plant.

Here's a couple of ways to water your grouping of urns:

Start with a very slow soaking of the soil to each pot. You can do this a couple of ways. I've in years past, just laid the hose in the pot but at a slow drip. This allows the soil to soak up the water rather than allowing a lot of it to just drain through the soil and out the drainage holes.

However, with 7 urns, this could take awhile. So probably the easiest and most average way of watering them is to slowly pour water at the base of the plant until you see water coming out of the drainage holes. Then you know that the majority of the soil is holding water. There is still dry soil in the pot, believe it or not, but at least the soil is getting soaked. And the pot won't dry out as quickly.

As far as the frequency of watering. Every day and every plant might be different. I do this:

Poke your thumb into the top 1 inch or so of the potting soil. If you feel dampness, don't water. If the soil is dry, water! Simple, but very effective!

One thing to keep in mind, is some days you'll water the pots in the morning. You'll check them in the evening and they might need water again. Some days you might skip a day between waterings. With day to day changes of rain and heat, every week might be something different.

With all that said, just make sure the soil is moist with the "thumb test" and you'll be in great shape. It's the way I've been doing it for years!

Best of luck to you!
Brad




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