Watering Practices for Healthy Heirloom Tomato and Pepper Plants

Watering Practices for Healthy Heirloom Tomato and Pepper Plants

January 22, 2017 0 By David Zordani

If you want healthy, productive heirloom tomato and pepper plants a good place to start is by keeping them on the dry side.

If you’re gardening in the Front Range’s notoriously hard-packed, clay soil then it is an especially good idea.  That shovel busting concrete we affectionately refer to as “soil” around the Denver area, poses a lot of issues for the backyard gardener.  However, when faced with clay-packed soil, and accompanying drainage problems, sometimes less water may go a long way.

You may have already spent big bucks and long, back breaking hours amending the heck out of your soil. Maybe you have finally sworn off your garden entirely for its under performing plants.  In actuality, your problem could be as simple as too much water.  Over-watering your plants can lead to issues that you may not even realize, here are a few:

Watering Heirloom Healthy Heirloom Tomato and Pepper 5280heirlooms.com
Healthy San Marzano Roma Plant and Tomatoes

1. Your plant can actually wilt from too much water. Think back to that wilted eye-sore of a plant on the pedestal in your living room.  Perfect light from a bay window?  Check.  Perfect amount of organic fertilizer?  Check.  Watered it often? Check.  Too often?  Uh, oh.    Thing is, your consistently soggy soil is what led to wilting, giving you the impression to water more which led to more wilting, which led to more watering. . . you get where this is going.  Your wilted houseplant’s roots were starved for oxygen and drowning.

2. Blossom end rot is the direct result of over- watering and poor drainage.   For more information on this topic  read my post on blossom end rot.

3. Clay soils hold a lot of moisture. Moisture retention leads to soggy conditions, which leads to root rot, which leads to plant stress, which leads to disease and so goes the plant-collapse-carousel.  Add something like sand, perlite, pebbles or small bark chips to your soil to help with drainage.  Also, clay soil compacts very easily when wet.  This makes life difficult for plant roots.  Difficult means stress and we all know where stress leads to.  Never work your soil when it is wet!

4. Tomato Blight typically occurs with prolonged moisture, rain or humid conditions.  Keep your soil and plants on the drier side.  Most pest attacks are secondary problems that occur because the plant was stressed and in a weakened state from disease or watering issues.

Tomatoes and peppers need only an inch or two of water a week.  Besides, thirsty plants will send their roots out further and deeper in the search of a water source.  I highly recommend mulching and using drip irrigation or hand watering at the base of the plant to keep your heirlooms healthy and disease free.  Fortunately, Colorado’s dry climate alleviates a lot of fungus and blight problems since plants typically don’t stay wet for long.  So don’t be afraid to give your heirlooms an occasional shower on the extreme heat days.  They love to cool off as much as you and I do.