Posted: 08/07/2012 at 09:31
Following Sotongeoff's advice yesterday, I haven't watered the tomatoes since, and I understand what Italophile says...
'Geoff is right. The biggest mistake you can make with toms is watering by rote - automatically, regardless of conditions. The rule of thumb is simple: water toms when they need it. When do they need it? When the mix - in the case of containers - dries out. You can let the mix dry out. It will not hurt the plant. Leaving the mix dry for a week obviously will hurt the plant but over a day it won't.'
Assuming that the problem is overwatering (and hopefully this can be picked up from the pictures of the affected plants), and that I can recover the existing tomato plants to good health, how (and this may seem like a daft question) can I tell if the mix has dried out? I can obviously check the surface, and insert my finger into the compost, but that still leaves the best part of 12" (30cm) of compost mix in a buried pot that I can't check, which may be as dry as a bone, or completely waterlogged.
I also appreciate what Italophile says about regular watering...
'so the watering pattern needs to be regular. That doesn't have to mean every day. It means establishing the plant's requirements and watering - app'
...but (appreciating my very limited knowledge on the matter) I'm confused as to what is regular watering, as even the responses to this post gives conflicting advice.
Italophile, can you go back to basics for novices like me. How often should I water (and feed)? How much water/feed? At what time of day should I water? How do I vary any of this if the conditions are particularly hot, cold, damp (as it's been in the UK for the past few months)? How does this differ between tomatoes grown in a greenhouse and the outdoors? Likewise those tomatoes grown in pots, and those grown directly in the soil?
Thanking you in anticipation.