Nothing beats the taste of home-grown tomatoes, but are you watering your plants frequently enough?
This time last year, I admitted defeat and consigned my tomato plants to the compost bin. The stalks they’d been reduced to were beyond salvation.
My attempts at Grow Your Own had started promisingly. I’d given my dad ‘Montello F1’ seed from the Which? Gardening member trials, and he’d germinated it and potted up the seedlings.
When ready, I duly transferred them into growing bags. But a deluge lasting for several days in early June made the bags sodden. As the plants weren’t looking too happy about the situation, I decided to put them in pots instead.
Shortly after, a family medical emergency saw me rushing off to Venice. Although I’d found the time to water the plants before I jetted off, they were left without a drink for the best part of a week – in the late June heat – before I remembered them and asked the cat sitter if she could water them.
Sadly, it was too late, and when I eventually returned home I found dried-up leaves and stalks instead of tomato plants. They’d clearly objected to the extremes I’d subjected them to.
Not one to give up easily, I decided to give GYO another go this year and vowed to be much kinder to my plants. I’m diligently giving them a good soak every evening and, so far, things are looking positive. I have fruit setting and some plants are on their fourth or fifth truss.
But reading the test results from a recent Which? Gardening trial, I’m wondering whether I should be watering them twice a day for the best possible yield and the least chance of disease setting in.
The trial consisted of 12 ‘Shirley’ plants grown in 20L pots. One set of three was watered in the morning and evening, another trio was watered once a day, and a third once a week. The remaining three were watered irregularly – between every two and seven days.
Of the four sets, those watered twice a day, keeping the compost uniformly moist, gave the largest yield and best quality fruit.
However, I’m not being too hard on my own plants, as those that were watered once a day in the trial gave the second largest yield and slightly larger fruit. Nevertheless, some fruits did split or had crazed skin towards the end of the test, so I’ll be keeping a keen eye out for this on my plants.
But judging by the pot size used by our experts, I’m not convinced the ones my plants are in are large enough… Oh well, there’s always next year.
How often do you water your tomatoes? What are your tips for achieving a bumper harvest?