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how much water is too much water?

Posted by tomatoesaretops 5A (My Page) on
Tue, May 30, 06 at 11:33

I started planting heirlooms last year and only had success with the cherries. This year I planted 10 different heirlooms because I'm crazy. I'm trying to avoid mistakes I think I may have made last year.

1. how often should I water? I keep reading conflicting info..some say to consistently water, others only to water every few days.
2. when do I know the tomatoes are watered enough? when can I tell that they need water?
3. how do I get a nice slow watering without touching the leaves (and no I can't afford an underground hose system)?
4. I am doing both containers and in the ground tomatoes...are there different levels of moisture I should be giving them each time I water?

and this is slightly unrelated but - which are best? tomato cages or ladders?

thanks to all the expert opinions.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: how much water is too much water?

I know it sounds counterintuitive, but tomato-specific questions get their best results in the Tomato forums.

I think the Heirlooms forum is primarily for the culture and history involved in heirlooms and how people get and distribute seeds. Growing, not so much...

That said...

1) Well that's easy -- as much as the plants need! :) Seriously, you don't want to waterlog your plants, and keeping the soil wet at all times can lead to a host of problems. I water every couple of days and never let the soil get "dry", always keeping above "moist".

3) A soaker hose.

4) I've found watering in containers to be much more difficult than in-ground. What kind of soil did you put in the containers?

The 54" tomato cages they sell at Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. will NOT support 6 to 8' tall heirloom tomato plants. You will need to make your own cages out of concrete reinforcing mesh or something else or buy the very expensive Texas Tomato Cages ($17/each if you buy 6).

RE: how much water is too much water?

As much as they need. When the plants are small, water when the first inch or so of the top soil is dry, this could be everyday if the weather is warm or windy. As they grow, you water at greater intervals and you water deeper to encourage the roots to grow down and out - tomato roots can extend 6' except when in containers of course. If you water too much, the plants produce vegetative growth, stems and foliage. If there is any risk that their lives are going to end (stress) i.e. drought, flowers and fruit are produced. So don't make them too happy, but don't stress them so far that they can't recover. Growing them fast (lots of water and fertilizer) can lead to predatory insects, wind breakage and collapse, growing them hard (moderate water and fertilizer) leads to longer lived plants and reproduction (flowers/fruits). So, there is no substitute for daily observation and accessment of the weather and soil conditions. Also, veggies and fruit given the time to grow slowly absorb more minerals from the soil and have a higher nutritional content. Isn't that a good reason to have a home garden (good taste too)?

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