By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning writer and owner of Tomato Dirt, a leading online source of for growing tomatoes in the home garden.
What's the best way to go about watering tomato plants?
Tomatoes do best when watered slowly and deeply.
As water sinks down lower into the soil, the tomato’s roots must follow suit and reach down further to absorb it.
Deep watering helps tomato plants build strong root systems.
Superficial watering allows roots to be lazy. If roots mustn’t dig deep, they can float around the surface and get a drink the easy way.
Shallow root systems can lead to root damage and more stress for the plant during dry spells. So by watering slowly and deeply, you're practicing your own kind of "Gardener's Tough Love" with tomato plants.
You can check the soil moisture before and after watering with a soil moisture meter. (Or you can do it quickly with your finger, too, and follow up with the meter to confirm your analysis.)
|Hand-Watering||Requires just a hose and nozzle||
Supplies superficial watering only
Concentrated stream means significant runoff
|Sprinkler||Requires just a hose and sprinkler||
Wets leaves, creating greater opportunity for disease
Higher evaporation, less soil absorption
Waters whole garden, leading to more weeds in between rows
Little water lost to evaporation
Allows slow and deep watering
You can water anytime; can set drip on a timer
Water while working in your garden
Can re-use drip components year after year
|More costly to initially set up|
Drip hoses (or soaker hoses) are the easiest and least expensive form of drip irrigation.
They are made of recycled tires and have tiny pores along their entire length.
Gardeners connect the drip hose to a water source and lay them along a row of tomatoes or wind them in between plants.
Water leaks slowly from the hose at a rate of about ½ gallon a minute per 100 feet of hose.
1. Drip hoses work best when they lay flat.
2. Place hoses directly on top of the soil, not underneath it.
3. For best results, use 50 foot lengths or less as water seepage diminishes at hose ends.
4. Drip hoses may clog. Flush out hose by connecting it to a regular garden hose and turning on water to dislodge debris.
More on watering tomato plants ...
Watering tomatoes when planting and just afterwards...
Watering tomato plants: the basics ...
Watering tomatoes: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) ...
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How to choose a garden hose for watering tomatoes ...
More watering tips on our Watering Tomatoes Pinterest board...
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