A quick surf around the tomato websites on the internet may lead people to believe:
- Tomato plants love lots of water
- Tomato plants love the rain
In some ways these two statements are both related and partly true.
Too Much Water
The problem is when the novice tomato grower gets his or her plants home from the garden centre and puts them outside in the rain after watering generously. The result is a drowned plant that is sitting in a pot of sodden, air-less mud.
Of course, tomato plants need moisture around their roots, to dissolve the nutrients in the soil, in order to feed.
When they are growing leaves, they need plenty of moisture in order to replace the water that evaporates from their leaves.
When they are fruiting they need even more water to help swell the fruit.
Older Plants Need More Water
Notice that more water is needed as plants become more mature but whatever stage a plant is at, there has to be a balance of moisture and air in the soil for a plant to grow well and keep healthy.
Over-watering when fruit is growing may cause nutrients to be diluted to the point where tomatoes can become watery in taste.
Rain water, as we discovered last week is usually on the acid side of the pH scale, and is great for tomato plants – they like soil and water with a pH just below 7.0.
The other great thing about rain water is that it doesn’t contain chlorine or fluoride so that’s an added bonus!
However, wet leaves will always lead to disease if they are wet long enough, so the idea is to keep leaves dry most of the time and roots moist all of the time, but allow wet soil to dry-out a bit before watering again to get the air back in.
So I guess that tomato plants do like water and rain after all – when their age and growing situation is taken into account.