Watering the Tomatoes

Here in upstate New York, and all over the Northeast today, it is a blazing hot and humid day. I don’t like it much, maybe you don’t either, and certainly my elderly neighbor and my dog don’t. But: the tomatoes do!

I went out to the garden early this morning to water before it got too hot. I also prefer to water most plants in the morning hours. The risk of evening watering is that the slugs will consider that the party has started and I’ve provided the water slide. Additionally, some plants, including tomatoes, are vulnerable to fungal diseases and damp foliage is an open invitation to get started. Evening watering sends leaves wet or damp into the overnight hours, where quick evaporation doesn’t happen—not such a great idea. So: morning watering it is.

Tiny yellow flowers, in clusters, hint at the tomato harvest yet to develop. Photo by author.

This summer has been wonderful tomato-growing weather (and weed-growing weather too, but that’s a story for another post). The abundance of consistently warm days, coupled with the occasional soaking afternoon or evening thunderstorm, plus my morning visits with the hose, have caused everything to  grow like gangbusters. It seems like only a week or two ago that my tomato plants were barely filling in their support hoops. Now they’ve breached the ramparts, sending branches upwards—taller than me! And outwards—I gaze with some regret at the ones that are heading off without much support except, perhaps, the neighboring tomato plant. I learned long ago to plant tomato plants pretty close together in anticipation of them needing and providing mutual support about this time of the summer.

Hose-watering, I’ll grant, is not the most efficient way to deliver water to a burgeoning vegetable garden. But it does allow me to make sure I “water the roots and not the plants,” and avoid splashing the leaves (again, trying to dodge the fungal-diseases bullet here). And it permits me to spend a little time standing there observing and contemplating the garden, plant by plant.

Today, there are more flowers on the tomato plants than ever. And some tiny green fruits developing. Yay! My heat-wave-induced stupor also caused my vision to blur as I stood there with the hose. I regarded the tiny bright yellow tomato flowers peeking out from among the lush mass of green leaves. Maybe this is how insects see, I mused: a blur of green and then, ah! those flowers!

  1. Collie says

    Teri, great post. I was looking at my tomatoes yesterday wondering if we were ever going to get the benefit from the plants. I had tons of flowers, but the fruit is slow growing. Glad to see I am not the only one.

  2. Patty Carman says

    After a cool, wet June in southern Ohio the temperatures and humidity have been abnormally high since the start of July, and we have only received a dribble of rain. I ground water regularly and my tomatoes are finally starting to fruit and ripen, but I’ve had to compete with squirrels for who picks the ripe tomatoes first. After resorting to picking them half-green and allowing them to ripen in a bag, it dawned on me that the squirrels and raccoons might be chewing on them for fluids. So I put a pan of water near my tomato bed, and later that day watched a squirrel drinking from the pan! I’ve dared to let my tomatoes stay longer on the vine to ripen, and I’ve kept that water pan filled. This compromise seems to be working for both me and the critters so far.

  3. Theresa Hassloch says

    I waitet for my tomatoes to ripen, but near the stem they stayed yellow, when I finally took them off and sliced them, the yellow part was all white inside and hard, unedible, any idea what causes that? same happened to my neighbor, thank you

    • Teri Dunn Chace says

      Not sure, Teresa, because I don’t know where you live/what your summer has been like. But my best guesses are that either you picked too early (should’ve left the fruit on the plant longer) or that temperatures have been too high (over 85 deg. F, the magic number for good tomato-ripening), which damaged the fruit as it ripened.

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