Tomatoes are delicious, healthy and easy to care for, but they make certain demands when it comes to watering. Here are tips on when and how best to water tomatoes and what you should pay attention to.
Whether in the garden or greenhouse, the tomato is an uncomplicated and easy to care for vegetable. However, when watering it is a little sensitive and make certain demands. Especially after fruiting, the plants need uniform soil moisture, so that the tomatoes do not burst and look unappetizing, or even rot.
What to keep in mind when watering tomatoes?
Generally, the motto for tomatoes is to water generously but evenly. Therefore, slow watering is important for the plants, so that the soil is penetrated evenly to a depth of a good 20 cm (8 in) before another watering is due. This is particularly beneficial for the roots of the plants. Water tomato plants in the bed a little away from the stem and not the stem itself. By doing this, you coax the plants to send their roots nice and far into the ground. In a drought, the plants can then get the water from a much larger root space.
To allow the water to percolate slowly at the tomato plants and not rush off superficially to all sides, you can bury a clay pot or potting pot with a very small or closed water drainage hole next to each plant, pour the watering water into it and immediately move on to the next plants. The water will trickle very slowly through the porous clay of the pot and slowly seep into the soil right next to the plant. The method is particularly suitable in the greenhouse, in the garden the pots may be in the way. This also keeps the lower shoots dry, so that the dreaded late blight does not have such an easy time. This is because it is always waiting in the background when tomatoes are watered. The spores of the harmful fungus need moisture to germinate.
Do not wet the leaves when watering
To prevent late blight, tomato plants are watered only from below, so that the leaves remain dry. Of course, this does not completely prevent the disease, especially if the tomato in the garden gets rainwater. Just cut off the lower leaves, it is difficult to prevent them from getting wet anyway without the clay pot. Once the tomatoes have grown in and become stronger, the plants will easily cope with the loss of leaves.
Water in the morning
If possible, water the vegetables in the morning, then the leaves will definitely be dry again by noon. If you water the tomatoes only in the evening, the foliage will remain wet for a long time, a perfect moisture for any harmful fungus. Early in the morning, if necessary, tomatoes tolerate cool water better, which otherwise causes root stress later in the day.
The soil should remain moist
Tomatoes hate constant alternation between moist and completely dry soil, which causes unripe as well as ripe fruits to burst. Water regularly and always let the soil dry only superficially, but never dry through.
How much and how often does a tomato need water?
Of course, this depends on the size and stage of development of the plant. On warm summer days, large tomatoes may well need two liters a day, while small and young plants can be satisfied with just half a liter. Water tomatoes only when they need it and not on a schedule or on spec. After all, the roots also need air and too well-intentioned watering also quite flushes important nutrients from the soil.
Never let them dry out, do not water after long periods of rain and water more on hot days: Check the plants regularly in the early days, then you will eventually get a feel for the right time. It is past time if the leaves of your tomatoes hang down limply in the morning and the soil is dry. If the shoots hang limply down at noon, this can also be a protective mechanism of the plants against heat, the leaves are taut again in the evening.
What water is right for tomatoes?
Soft rainwater without lime is ideal, which you can collect in rain barrels, for example. Tap water should be stagnant and ideally also somewhat temperate. It is best to fill it into rain barrels and let it stand for a few days before watering. This is more tolerable for the tomatoes than cold tap water straight from the tap.
Watering tomatoes in the greenhouse and in the tub
Tomato plants under a canopy or in a greenhouse need special attention, as well as in a tub. Of course, they can be best controlled, but they also need more water, because they do not get rainwater or have less soil volume. Until you have a feeling for the watering rhythm, you should regularly test the soil with your finger: If the soil is still dry at a depth of 2 cm (0.8 in) and no more soil sticks to your finger, you should water the tomatoes. This also applies to tomatoes in pots.