Tomatoes: to water or not to water?
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Tomatoes: to water or not to water?
Probably, most gardeners do not think much about this issue:
- dried up - poured
- sluggish - poured
- it's time - poured
Someone uses the rule: water abundantly, but not often ... Water it with warm water in the morning - this will protect the plant from late blight. How to approach this issue? Most often intuitively.
But how often do we observe the picture: tomato bushes stand with their leaves down (watering missed). It seems to be a good active growth and abundant flowering, but with mass fruit setting, inhibition and developmental arrest occur. Ripening is extended. And the fruits are not what they would like (a large-fruited variety is declared, and the fruits are medium-sized). And it happens that at the first ovaries the remaining flowers do not set and crumble (although I sprayed it with boric acid, but it did not help).
Now let's see these photos:
These are photos of tomato bushes at the end of July. There have already been several gatherings, the fruits continue to grow, tie and blush. There are a lot of fruits and I even took the largest of the brushes and weighed - some were more than 500 gr. This is one of the brushes, and there are many brushes and new ones are constantly growing.
All of them have in common (here are photos of different varieties and hybrids) one thing: all of these tomatoes planted in early May have never been watered! It had not rained for more than two months. The heat in our Kuban conditions is depressing.
How do we plant:
- I grow seedlings in grape boxes, without picking.
- In a box about 150 plants.
- Seedlings grow within 1.5 months.
- We plant in chopped furrows with small watering.
More bushes are not watered and food goes only through the leaf. This is not even nutrition, but nutrition adjustment: 50-80 gr. fertilizer per 1000 bushes, with an emphasis on trace elements. They help the plant properly absorb nutrition.
Over the years, I have not seen a tomato die in the field from a lack of moisture. From diseases - yes, the bushes die and dry out. If I hadn’t planted tomatoes like that, I probably wouldn’t even have thought about whether to water or not?
The entire experience of the gardener protests against such cultivation. But it is a fact! Many who were in the south saw fields of tomatoes that quietly grow and bear fruit in the heat. But how many wondered why this is happening? In the greenhouse, we create ideal conditions and are almost always dissatisfied with the result.
What happens at the level of plant physiology?
I will try to draw a picture, exaggerating a little, but close.
Planting seedlings in a greenhouse is a solemn moment. At last! We plant in loose soil and actively water. Someone is planting seedlings while standing, someone is laying in a groove, sprinkling part of the stem. Probably everyone knows that after planting seedlings are recommended not to be watered for a couple of weeks (for better rooting).
But the sun begins to bake, 3-5 days pass and the plants lower the leaves. The top layer of the earth dries up, and we water (sorry). Tomato comes to life and "spreads its wings." The bush begins to grow, and we carry out all the necessary operations (garter, stepsoning, etc.) regularly watering it.
The flowering of the first, second, third brushes begins and the ovary gradually forms. Here the first failure in development is possible: Some of the flowers may crumble without forming an ovary.
There may be a delay in development.
Further more. The plant can grow actively and not tie fruit at all, even when treated with Boron or Ovary. The fruits, as it were, stop in development, the tomato freezes in growth and this can last up to two weeks and only then continues to grow. It may be sooner or later. And the ripening of the fruits takes a long time, the period is stretched. And here is autumn on the nose.
Why could this be?
Planting seedlings in a greenhouse with a small root system, we ourselves do not allow it to develop.
If the plant receives both moisture and nutrition in full, then there is an active growth of the upper part. Why do roots grow? Everything is and in abundance. And all this goes before the flowering of the third - fourth brush. It is at this stage that a lack of nutrition for the formation of fruits begins to manifest itself.
What does the plant do?
Instead of forming fruits, the bush begins to build up the root system. He has to switch his processes. The growth of everything stops - the root system grows. And only then he again pays attention to the formation of fruits.
But time has also been lost and, of course, the crop will be far from what you wanted to get. I have already said that the picture I painted is somewhat exaggerated. But some manifestations, and often not for the better, can be. I propose combining two methods: Watering and lack of watering.
We plant seedlings, actively water, and forget about watering until the third brush blooms. Why up to thirds? It is then that the active development of the root system ends. And already against the background of good root development, we are gradually adding watering. Just the phase of the ovary and filling of the fruits.
But here two conditions must be met (for those who want to try this method)
1. The earth should be warmed up at the root level of the plant.
- I'm talking about a transparent film on the ground - active heating of the earth.
But it is necessary to make holes before covering the earth with a film, where seedlings will later be planted.
And to do this, like shelter with film, two weeks before landing.
2. Important condition:
- When planting, we remove the lower leaves, ideally, we leave only the top.
This will help faster rooting, and the plant will not suffer so much at the first stage from a lack of moisture (there will be no excessive evaporation).
Another little hint: When planting early, when the ground is still cool, a tomato plant, as a rule, is loaded with flowers on the first flower brush. This is especially dangerous on large-fruited varieties. They always need to form the first 2-3 brushes. I take scissors, and as soon as I see - 4-5 ovaries, extra flowers and ovaries, I immediately remove them. Otherwise, the plant “hangs” on the cultivation of all the ovaries of the first brush (and the root system again lags behind in development) and this will affect the overall yield.
By the way: When the leaves of a tomato hang, this is an indicator not of a lack of moisture, but of a weak root system (it simply cannot take moisture from the ground). On the field, without watering, this phenomenon is not observed. This of course is just my opinion and my experience of observing a tomato plant.
It will be interesting to debate.
Someone will say: I water all the time and get excellent results!
And it could be:
- Different land (clay or sand). In sandy land, a slight moisture deficit is constantly present and roots are more actively formed.
- The use of different stimulants for the development of the root (even just superphosphate, put in the hole during planting, activates root growth).
- Seedlings planted with a good root system.
Nevertheless, I drew an exaggerated picture, but if someone sees something “their own”, then something needs to be changed in the system.