By Kira Hamman
Growing tomato plants need about 2 inches of water each week to thrive.
In an ideal world, this would be provided by Mother Nature in the form of rainfall, and indeed it sometimes is.
But what happens when it’s not?
When your tomatoes are thirsty and Mama doesn’t deliver, you’ll probably need to provide each plant with several gallons of water every few days. The simplest way to do this is with a good, old-fashioned watering can. A large can holds plenty of water for a thirsty tomato; the trick is to pour slowly enough that it sinks into the soil rather than running off to water the weeds nearby.
A hose is somewhat easier to use than a can, since you can set it to a trickle and leave it at the base of the plant for 10 or 15 minutes. Even easier than a regular hose is a soaker hose, which is basically a hose with holes poked in it so that water dribbles out all along the length. A soaker hose laid carefully around your tomato plants can save you a lot of watering time — just hook it up to your regular hose, turn it on, and go have a cup of coffee (watering is best done early). Come back, turn it off, and you’re done for the day.
Finally, for the gadget-lover, there’s DIY drip irrigation. To do this, cut the bottom off of a 2-liter plastic soda bottle (available by the carload from your local recycling drop-off), drill a few holes in the cap, and plant the thing top down beside your tomato seedling. When you’re ready to water, fill the bottle and let it soak into the soil from below. This is kind of fun, and is a great way to provide extra water if you’ll be gone for a few days.
Tell us your watering tricks and tips!