tomatoe plant watering

Hi folks, I have a tomatoe plant in a 17" pot. I have been watering it with about 1 gallon of water 2 times a week, one watering I add Miracle Grow Tomatoe Plant food. I am wondering if this is to much water or not enough. A lot of the leaves are curling. It is not all that hot here yet in our area of Southern Calif., getting into the mid 80's. I have it where it gets the most sun. It is a Bonnie Tomatoe Patio. Thanks for any advice.
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Paul O.
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Paul O. wrote:

Paul,
I think you are overfeeding it. No plant needs fertilizer once a day (once every couple of weeks is what I use for my container tomatoes). As for watering, you may be giving it too much water also. I would cut back a little and see if the problem clears up.
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Bill R. (Ohio Valley, U.S.A)

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In article NO_WEEDS snipped-for-privacy@iglou.com says...

Twice a week may actually be too little water. Tomatoes tend to really eat water in pots and when it gets hot here in Chicago, like it is now, I have to water them every day. Some people suggest twice a day but I'm not that diligent. My tomatoes are rather small, about 1 1/2 feet high, so they're not drying out the pot as fast but I still check the soil and sprinkle them every day if needed. Mine certainly can't go more than 2 days without water even at their current size. When they get big and the root ball grows, if I didn't water them every day the stupid plants started to wilt. Growing them in the ground is far more forgiving wrt watering.
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The water requirements are related to the size of the plant, the ambient temperature (and wind) and the amount of soil the plant is growing in. The soil has to provide enough water storage to keep the plant hydrated.
As the plant grows, the water requirements increase (more leaves = more transpiration). If you put your tomatoes in a larger container you may be able to water them only twice a week. Adjust the size of the container to the amount of time you have to spend on your plants. If you have only once a week, plant them in the ground instead of a pot. In the ground the watering requirements depend largely on the soil type, the depth to groundwater, and the age of the plant (from transplanting: newly transplanted tomatoes have shallow roots so they will need more frequent watering until the roots get down to a more reliable water source).
When you water a pot, give it a bit of water to wet the soil, then wait a minute and give it some more, then wait again and give it some more. If you just dump it on all at once the water doesn't have time to thoroughly wet the soil in the pot before it starts to run off. In general, I leave a bit of space between the soil level and the top of the pot (an inch or two depending on the size of the pot). I then fill that space with water. When it soaks in, I fill it again. For large pots or pots with a small width to depth ratio I do it a third time also.
Don't do this every day unless your plant really dries out quickly. Roots need air as well as water. Unless you're growing wetland plants you don't want to drown the root system.
Mark Anderson wrote:

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Your pot's about 50% too small. Bigger pots have more stable soil environments. Tomato plants do best when their soil stays evenly moist, as opposed to extremes of dryness and moisture.
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Leaf curl is caused by any number of things, but lately I've been reading a lot about atrazine, a herbicide which is applied to turf in weed and feed products. This chemical can go through the body of a horse, poop out and the compost can still have very high levels of atrazine in it.
That was my soap box stuff. But, the reality is your plant is curling more than likely because you are overfeeding it with horrible fertilizer. Switch to something less salty, like Hasta-Gro or the use of granular fertilizer like Sustane or other organic, slow release fertilizer. If you insist on synthetic fertilizer, at least use prills, something slow release like Osmocote for Tomatoes.
If your watering practices are not adequate, you will certainly have splitting on the fruits once they develop and ripen.

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You're setting your plants up for BER, blossom end rot, a calcium mobilization problem, by the drought and drown watering. Try to keep the soil evenly moist but not wet, and you'll get good yields and good tomatoes. Drip watering and a mulch is probably best for potted tomatoes, in my experience.
Kay
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Thanks all of you for the replies. Guess for next year I'll have to get a bigger pot. Just try to get along with this one for now. We have gophers bad here so afraid to put it in the ground. Thanks again.

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On Thu, 09 Jun 2005 01:40:51 GMT, "Paul O."

Seems like too much water to me, but if you are in this hot spell around New England, perhaps not (sorry, I am weak on U.S. geography). If they develop Blossom End Rot then cut back on the water for sure.
I agree with the other poster and would cut back on the fertiliser to no more than once a month. -- Gardening Zones Canada Zone 5a United States Zone 3a Near Ottawa, Ontario
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