Holiday Watering Tomato Plants

Holiday Watering Tomato Plants and Watering Systems

If there is one thing that can spoil a holiday, apart from the weather, it’s worrying about watering the tomatoes!

Taps and tubing
Watering timers work well but they can be difficult to set up – the tubing and drippers can be rather fiddly. Getting the right amount of water to each plant, not to mention the possibility of battery failure is a concern.

Holiday Watering Tomato Plants

Go To Watering Kits at Amazon

Using a standard hosepipe placed around the garden, then running the drippers off of it, is a good option for those with a lot of plants.

Valves and trays
Auto watering valves in trays such as the Smart Valve and Aquavalve are also useful. These require a large water tank if you are away for more than a few days – or if you have a lot of trays and plants to water.

Wicks and reservoirs
The wick system over a reservoir is perhaps the easiest method of watering tomatoes when away – especially when it comes to setting up – no tubing, drippers or timers.

The Hozelock Grow Bag Waterer and the Quadgrow Planter are both wick systems and a few tweaks, there’s very little that can go wrong.

Here’s one basic set up that works very well for individual plants (below).

It’s possible to add a capillary wick (after filling the pot) by pushing a strip of capillary matting up through a hole in the bottom of a pot with a screwdriver – carefully of course!

Pot with Wick in Bucket

Considering the price of a bucket and a piece of capillary matting, it’s a good value system!

If you used a wick system, you will see that roots grow down into the water below. Some roots are quite happy under water, others prefer to remain where there is more oxygen. Within a root system, root have various functions.

A Few Recent Varieties
It’s always good to try a few new varieties – last season Heartbreaker Vita and Sweet Aperitif were fairly new on the scene and both performed very well. This season Crimson Crush will be put to the test if we get more wet weather – it’s a blight-free variety, hopefully!

Heartbreaker Vita – A small bush variety producing heart shaped cherry tomatoes with an excellent taste – good sugar/acid balance. A good yield and ideal for growing in pots on the windowsill.

Sweet Aperitif – This one is really sweet but also has a good acid content – the high level of both makes a high intensity tasting tom! It produces a huge yield but the tomatoes are a bit on the small side, so it’s almost a cocktail variety.

I could have increased the size of the toms slightly by reducing the amount of flowers on each truss. Also, instead of feeding a high potassium feed when flowers set fruit, giving a balanced until the second truss has set often increases the fruit size slightly.

Sweet Olive – This one has been around for some time – contains a little more acid than sugar content although it’s very prolific and still has a very acceptable taste.

Black Sea Man – Advertised as a bush variety but it thinks it’s a tall variety in my garden! A lovely big, juicy black tomato (dark purple actually) with a taste that makes it well worth growing. A wonderful taste – very sweet and juicy!

Black Sea Man - large and juicy. I must remove those flowers that have failed to set!
Black Sea Man – large and juicy. I must remove those flowers that have failed to set!

Indigo Rose was a big disappointment – the black fruit looked fabulous but were rock hard even when ripe!

Indigo Rose

Late Blight
As we approach August, with more wet weather on the horizon (in the UK), late blight will probably become an issue. The healthiest plants put up the best fight but will succumb in the end – even blight tolerant varieties such as Ferline and Legend can only resist to a point.

However, if the publicity is true, Crimson Crush may be the only one left standing if the wet weather continues through August. Let’s hope it won’t be put to the test!







3 Responses

  1. Rhys Jaggar

    i tried your suggestion of using smaller pots for greater yield/unit of compost and it has worked well on Red Alerts. Looks like it will be 10lb+ from 4 pots of Red Alert with 350 – 400 tomatoes. Usually one 30cm pot yields 200 – 250 at 4 – 5lb. The challenge is keeping small pots moist as they dry out quickly.

    The seaweed doses as a balanced fertiliser you suggested last week is already clearly bulking up the tomatoes which set later. Two more weeks then!

    • Anonymous

      Hi Rhys, I am going to try red alert next year. They sound great. How tall did the plants get and did they need much pruning or looking after. Great yield you go for 4 plants. When did you get your first fruit.

    • Nick

      It’s good to hear that your plants are doing so well!