Watering Tomatoes in the Home Garden
Ideally gardners would rather Mother Nature take control of watering tomatoes. Like anything in life, it's great if it works.
A gardeners job is to balance Natures watering with theirs. Planning a watering schedule and delivery system should be considered right from the start.
The most often asked questions regarding watering is, How often? and How much? Watering Tomatoes a little everyday is not the best approach and is the downfall of many gardens.
Watering this way usually prohibits the water from reaching the deeper roots where it is needed for optimum growth. This can lead to a weakened plant, leaving it susceptible to disease.
What type of soil is in the garden?
After conditioning does the soil hold water. Does the garden drain completely? After a heavy watering is there standing water and if so how deep?
Before planting, It's a good idea to water a one square foot area of the garden with one gallon of water. Check later in the day to see if the area is damp. when checking dig one to two feet deep and make sure there is no standing water.
Standing water would eventually cause some degree of root rot and a host of other ailments. Check again in twenty four hours, if the deeper soil is still damp, that's good.
Don't worry about the upper 6 inches of soil being dried up, that will be corrected later with mulching.
If the area dried up right away, adjust the soil mix, perhaps working some sphangum moss deep into the soil to help hold water for uptake. If the soil is clay based, check again in twenty four hours and then thirty six hours,
Knowing the timing of the garden soil's ability to hold water, will provide a better idea of how often to water. Tomatoes like deeper penetrating watering for better assimilation. Allow enough time for the soil to dry up a little before the next watering.
The amount I prefer in my garden is two gallons per plant every two days. Remember most parts of Florida have very sandy soil that is well drained adjust for denser Northern soil.
Patio plants in containers require a little more attention. Obviously the size of the container will help determine the timing and watering amount. Time test the drying time, as above, for the particular container being used. This is more important for container growing.
Because of the confined space for the root system, Too much, too often can be terminal. Forgetting watering duties and letting the soil dry up will have equally disaterous results.
Develop a specific plan. All of the above watering tips are based on no rain. When it rains it's hard to tell how much water penetrated the roots. Alter watering schedules to the additional rain water. Use best judgement regarding resuming watering after a heavy rain.
Mother nature is one water delivery system. What should a gardener use for auxillary watering?
Ancient Irrigation Systems were primitive by our standards. It is suprising how well they handled the job. The earliest civilations learned early on to work with what they had available. Most of their irrigation methods were clever diversions of existing water sources. Planting near the source made the task a little easier.
Many gardeners have experimented with terrace type diversion systems inspired by ancient civilizations.
The watering schedule for any garden should increase slightly when the plants are fruiting to provide more uptake for the fruit.
As with other aspects of tomato gardening, watering tomatoes does involve some trial and error research. Planning and using prevention methods will increase the odds of success.