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Your answer about watering wasn't specific enough for me. My tomatoes have always cracked and it wasn't until last year that I got the vague answer about uneven watering. Now I'm beginning to think that my gallon a day watering of my one little plant was too much. I also have a drip system that waters three times a week just under the soil at the base of the plant. Should I stop being a helicopter mom and leave it just to the drip system? My plant is a foot high, been in the ground with lots of organic material and has a few small tomatoes. Please tell me how much and how often to water.

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A

Cracking does often happen from overwatering but also how water is applied.  For example, we had a heavy thunderstorm on July 22, and the tomato fruits that were on the plant will probably have some cracking from this watering coming down onto the plant.  Best watering for tomatoes is at the base, and you have a drip system which is ideal.  3X a week sounds like too much watering.  I can't give you a precise schedule because everyone's soil, microclimates and air temperatures are variable.  Best advice is to check with a trowel around the root zone and if it is wet and moist consistently, air and oxygen is not able to occupy the pore spaces in the soil, and oxygen in addition to water is necessary for plant growth. The soil needs to dry out a bit so that air can also be available for plant use - but not to the point of wilting. Since you have a lot of organic matter (hopefully well composted before addition to your soil - otherwise the available nitrogen in the soil is used by microbes in the soil to decompose the organic matter and not available to the plant) you probably have good water holding capacity and I would recommend cutting back on watering. 

Good Gardening!

Posted on 30 Jul 2008

Maggie Shao
Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

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