Table of contents:
Tomatoes: to water or not to water?
Probably, most gardeners do not think much about this question:
- dried up - watered
- wilted - watered
- it's time - poured
Someone uses the rule: water abundantly, but not often … Water with warm water in the morning - this will protect the plant from phytophthora. How do you approach this question? Most often intuitive.
But how often do we see the picture: tomato bushes stand with downcast leaves (missed watering). It seems to be a good active growth and abundant flowering, but with the mass setting of fruits, inhibition and a stop in development occur. Maturation is extended. And the fruits are not what we would like (a large-fruited variety is declared, but the fruits are medium in size). And it happens that at the first ovary, the rest of the flowers do not tie and crumble (although I sprayed it with boric acid, 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 collections, the fruits continue to grow, set and blush. There are a lot of fruits and I even took the largest ones from the brush and weighed them - some were more than 500 grams. This is one of the brushes, and there are many brushes and new ones are growing all the time.
All of them have one thing in common (here are photos of different varieties and hybrids): all these tomatoes, planted in early May, have never been watered ! There was no rain for more than two months. The heat in our Kuban conditions is depressing.
How we plant:
- I grow seedlings in grape boxes, without picking.
- There are approximately 150 plants in the box.
- Seedlings grow within 1.5 months.
- We plant in cut furrows with a little watering.
The bushes are no longer watered and food only goes through the leaf. It's not even nutrition, but nutritional adjustment: 50-80 gr. fertilizers for 1000 bushes, with an emphasis on trace elements. They help the plant to properly assimilate nutrition.
For many years, I have not seen a tomato die in the field from a lack of moisture. From disease - yes, the bushes die and dry up. If I hadn't planted tomatoes like that, I probably wouldn't have even thought about watering or not?
The whole experience of the gardener protests against such cultivation. But this is a fact! Many who have been to the south have seen fields of tomatoes that grow calmly and bear fruit in the very heat. But how many wondered why this is happening? In the greenhouse, we create ideal conditions and are almost always unhappy with the result.
What happens at the level of plant physiology?
I will try to paint a picture, exaggerating a little, but close.
Planting seedlings in a greenhouse is a solemn moment. Finally! We plant in loose soil and water actively. Someone plants seedlings while standing, someone puts them in a groove, sprinkling a part of the stem. Probably everyone knows that after planting the seedlings are recommended not to water for a couple of weeks (for better rooting).
But the sun begins to bake, 3-5 days pass and the plants drop their leaves. The top layer of the earth dries up, and we water (sorry). The tomato comes to life before our eyes and “spreads its wings”. The bush begins to grow, and we carry out all the necessary operations (garter, pinching, etc.) watering it regularly.
The flowering of the first, second, third brush begins and an ovary gradually forms. This is where the first failure in development is possible: Some of the flowers may crumble without forming an ovary.
Developmental delay may occur.
Further more. The plant can actively grow and not set fruit at all, even when processed with Bor 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 fruits takes a long time, the period is extended. And here already and autumn is on the nose.
Why can this be so?
By 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 the upper part is actively growing. Why should roots grow? Everything is there and everything is in abundance. And all this goes before the beginning of flowering of the third - fourth brush. It is at this stage that the lack of nutrition for the formation of fruits begins to appear.
What does the plant do?
Instead of forming fruit, the bush begins to build up a root system. He has to switch his processes. The growth of everything stops - the root system grows. And only then does he again pay attention to the formation of fruits.
But time is also lost and, of course, the harvest will not be what you wanted to get. I have already said that the picture I drew is somewhat exaggerated. But there may be some manifestations, and often not for the better. I propose to combine two methods: Watering and no watering.
We plant seedlings, water actively, and forget about watering until the third brush blooms. Why exactly up to thirds? It is then that the active development of the root system ends. And already against the background of good development of the roots, we gradually add watering. Just the phase of ovary and fruit filling.
But here two conditions must be met (for those who want to try this method)
1. The ground should be warmed up at the level of the plant roots.
I'm talking about a transparent film on the ground - active heating of the ground.
But before covering the ground with a film, it is necessary to make holes, where the seedlings will then be planted.
And do this, like covering with a film, two weeks before planting.
2. An important condition:
When planting, remove the lower leaves, ideally leaving 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 excess evaporation).
Another small tip: When planted early, when the ground is still cool, the tomato plant will usually be loaded with flowers on the first flower cluster. This is especially dangerous for large-fruited varieties. They should always have the first 2-3 brushes. I take scissors, and as soon as I see - 4-5 ovaries, extra flowers and ovaries, I immediately remove. Otherwise, the plant "hangs" on the cultivation of all the ovaries of the first brush (and the root system will again lag behind in development) and this will affect the overall yield.
By the way: When the leaves of a tomato hang, this is not an indicator of a lack of moisture, but a weakness of the root system (it simply cannot take moisture from the ground). In the field, without watering, this phenomenon is not observed. This is of course just my opinion and my experience of observing the tomato plant.
It will be interesting to discuss
Someone will say: I water all the time and get great results!
And it could be:
- Different soil (clay or sandy). In sandy soil, there is a slight moisture deficit all the time and roots are more actively formed.
- The use of various stimulants for root development (even just superphosphate, placed in the hole during planting, activates root growth).
- Seedlings planted with good root systems.
Still, I drew an exaggerated picture, but if someone sees something “of their own”, then something needs to be changed in the system.