With our amiable discussion of "blossom end rot", and the merits of
avoiding water stress in the vine, solidly fixed in the rear view
mirror, I send along some views on watering published by our local "fish
wrap", a vassal of the NYT. Unfortunately, it says nothing about
Here are a few tactics about tomato culture to keep them healthy and
productive between now and then (harvest). Most are related to watering
Extra water is not welcome. The best way to determine if water is needed
is to probe into the soil 4 to 6 inches beneath the surface. The top
inch or two should always dry out a bit before rewatering to guard
against fungal diseases, but lower levels should stay moist, never
soggy. Because clay soil holds water longer than sandy ground, watering
is never the same in these two conditions even when both types are
heavily mulched, as they should be. With clay, tomatoes may need
watering only once a week.
Guard against flavor loss. Too much water reduces flavor in tomatoes
just as it does with berries and other fruits. Flavor loss may also be
attributed to weather, but that, of course, is beyond our control.
Sub-soil moisture lasts. Watering deeply and infrequently is good
general advice for many plants, both edible and ornamental, that are
planted in heavy soil. Even though we probe with a trowel to determine
moisture content below the surface, we can never test the deeper layers
where tomato roots extend. Frequent heavy watering saturates lower
levels of soil and deep roots will rot.
Don't fret about drought. At least, not if you've prepped the soil with
plenty of compost before you planted. Several years ago, a gardening
friend replicated the technique that his father had used in growing
tomatoes by not watering during summer, not even once. At planting time
he used a posthole digger to remove 3 feet of clay soil, amended half
the volume of soil with compost, and watered thoroughly. As he expected,
he harvested a fine crop.
Go light on fertilizer. Although tomatoes benefit greatly from fertile
soil, too much of a good thing goes wrong. Side dressing with compost
and/or applying light doses of fish emulsion every month is all that's
needed. Too much nitrogen produces an excess of foliage and a paucity of
Wishing you all the best of barbecues for the week-end, especially here
in the US, where we celebrate throwing off our colonial masters by
observing "Independence Day". Additionally, I wish a quick return home
for our boys and girls overseas, and justice for the greedy, who have
wrought so much pain and suffering in the world.
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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