Properly watering tomatoes is arguably one of the most important steps for growing plump, juicy tomatoes in the vegetable garden.
Watering tomatoes too much or not enough can destroy or limit production and can contribute to increasing the chances for disease. Watering tomatoes deep is the best way to properly water your tomatoes.
What does watering tomato plants deep mean?
It is just what it sounds like – watering tomato plants at their deepest root level. Watering in this manner will ensure good root development, resulting in stronger, healthier tomato plants.
This in turn creates greater tomato production over a longer period of the season. Now, I don’t know of a tomato gardener that does not want that! There are many techniques and tools for watering tomato plants deep, here are just a few:
Use a Watering Wand for watering tomato plants. Try to direct the water stream towards the base of the tomato plant; avoid getting the foliage wet as much as possible.
Having damp leaves on the plant can create an environment that easily spreads blight and other diseases. Water each tomato plant for 1 – 6 minutes depending on your soil composition. It is better to water tomatoes in the morning so that the plants will have time to thoroughly dry before night.
The soaker hose will also help keep the leaves from becoming wet. Typically I like to snake the soaker hose around my tomato plants. This ensures each plant gets a good drink.
Use an old 2-liter soft drink bottle with a lid as a watering device. Use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife and cut the bottom off the 2-liter bottle. Drill about two or three holes in the bottle lid using a 3/32″ drill bit.
Now bury the bottle upside down and at about a 45° angle, four to six inches from the stem of the tomato, leaving about one to two inches of the bottle sticking above soil. Fill the bottle with water or your favorite liquid fertilizer, such as compost tea.
The water will slowly trickle out of the bottle, easily watering the tomato plant at the roots. This technique is best done when planting the tomato seedlings to keep from disturbing the roots of an established plant. For a step-by-step tutorial on how to do this, please read – Watering Tomatoes Using A 2-liter Soda Bottle.
An alternative to the above technique is using an Aqua Cones. Just screw the Aqua Cone on where the cap usually goes on an old 2-liter soda bottle.
Stick into the ground beside the stem of the tomato plant, and then fill with water or feeding solution. The Aqua Cones are good to use for tomatoes that are already established because they will not disturb the roots as much as the previously mentioned method.
When planting your tomatoes, place a watering pipe in the planting hole. A watering pipe is very simple to make – all you need is a 1-inch diameter PVC pipe about 24 inches long, a 1/8th drill bit, and a cordless drill.
Drill the 1/8th-inch holes about an inch apart down the length of the pipe, leaving the top 2 inches of the pipe undrilled. Now you can just place the watering pipe all the way down inside the hole that you dig when planting your tomatoes.
Fill the pipe up with water or your favorite feeding solution, and the tomato plant will get a nice, deep drink. The pipe may need to be refilled a couple times a week depending on how much rain you receive and how hot the temperatures are.
An alternative to using the pipe method for watering tomato plants deep is using Tomato Watering Stakes. The Tomato Watering Stakes will supply fresh water directly to the roots of the tomato plants and is the ideal way to water tomato plants deep. They help to eliminate evaporation and runoff and double as a plant support stake. You knock out two problems with one product!
Another great trick for deeply watering tomatoes is a device called Tomato Savers. This is a very cool item that will easily water your tomato plants deep, but also helps protect against cutworms and other pests.
Watering tomatoes deep will help to keep your tomato plants watered where it really counts – at the roots. You can also apply these techniques to other vegetable plants as well such as peppers, eggplant, squash and zucchini. Experiment to see which one suits your gardening style best, and get creative with better ways of watering tomatoes deep.
What do you use to water tomato plants?
Please feel free to share your watering methods in the comments section!