How much water to give tomatoes?

frdnicholas(Albuquerque NM)April 15, 2006

Last year my tomatoes all ended up with blossom-end rot. I have been told that it is related to uneven watering. How much and how often do you all water tomatoes, especially if we have a season like last year, without any rain? I also have been told that the disease is in the soil, so I have moved my tomatoes to another section of my yard. We pulled down an old shed that had been used for a chicken coop, so the soil seems to be pretty good.

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I have set up a drip system in my tomatoe beds...having them recieve water 5 minutes a day now until it gets hot...then we will have them watered again later in the day. Maybe you can buy a water gadget that tells you when it needs to have water-this way you can water only when necessary. Smart idea to move the tomatoes this year. It sounds like this year will be a good one for you!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 10:35AM
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frdnicholas(Albuquerque NM)

So, do you mean that the water drips into the bed for 5 minutes twice a day? I don't have a drip system, so I tend to soak the tomatoes with a good 2 inches of water. I was doing this daily last summer when the temperatures were in the 90s and we had no rain. Does this seem excessive and might that have contributed to the blossom-end rot?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 7:02PM
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Not sure "how much" you should water you water... check your soil for the correct moisture from time to time, especially when there is a weather change and after hot and dry winds. Treat your tomatoe plants like shrubs. Use a long stick and poke it into the soil, it will go in easily where the soil is moist and stop dead at dry soil, unless it bumps into a rock, of course. For shrubs roots: soil should be moist down to 1 foot. Get one of those Water meters-maybe that'll help you out too. I did hear that a failing plant can also show the same symptoms as a plant whose roots are rotting from over-watering. Do you mulch? I am trying this new method of mulching this year. It's a silver reflective mulch. It confuses the apids & white flies and birds so much (YES!!) they won't come around the plants. It's fun trying to keep up with growing tomatoes sometimes.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 9:51PM
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frdnicholas(Albuquerque NM)

Last year I was unable to get any mulch. This year I have gotten a bunch of aged alfalfa straw and intend to mulch with that. I will try the "foot down" test before I water and see if I still need to water daily if we have no rain. What have you experienced Southwest tomato growers been doing as far as how much water to give tomatoes?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 9:58PM
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feldon30(N Houston (8))

Planted in the ground, water deeply every 2-3 days and then let the soil get relatively dry. When you poke your finger in, it should still be moist, but not "wet" and the surface can dry out a bit.

Planted in containers, you may need to water every day but make sure you have good drainage. Rocks in the bottom, holes in the sides, etc.

Blossom-end Rot is not a disease but a physiological condition caused by calcium not getting to or staying in the fruit. Watering and soil conditions are the key. Adding calcium rarely solves the problem because often, there is enough calcium in the soil, it's just not getting to the fruit.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2006 at 10:39AM
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I have read that tomatoes need 1 inch of water per week minimum (about 3-5 gallons of water per plant). During the heat of summer, they require 1 1/2 inches per week. Water slowly and deeply so that roots will go deep looking for water. Shallow roots mean that the plant will likely dry out faster (causing wilting). Watering once every 2-3 days is a good idea. Use a stick to check the depth of your watering. 8-12 inches deep is about right.

Consistent watering is also important as it will keep plants from cracking. The BER (Blossom End Rot) caused from a lack of calcium intake can often be solved by watering correctly so that the roots can soak up calcium that is in the soil. You can soak eggshells in water for 24 hours and then use that water on the tomatoes or use Gypsum to add calcium to the soil if the soil is deficient.

Excessive watering can cause nutrients to leach below where the roots can be found causing a deficiency in the plants.

It is best to water in the morning so that the leaves will have time to dry during the day.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 9:55AM
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I have several tomatoe plants and have a five foot high sprinkler system. I turn it on each day for about an hour - is this either enough or too much. Is it ok to water plants from the top down. I also give them fertalizer every two weeks from the botton. Am I doing this correct

I have noticed that the bottom leaves are dying off - is this normal

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 11:31AM
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