Two weeks ago I started an experiment to see if tomatoes can be over watered. I used to keep ponds and back then we were all crazy to see what plants would grow in standing water, many will. Tomato was tried by another ponder and I always wanted to see for myself. I read here warnings about over watering and rotting the roots and it reminded me to do this experiment.
I don't think this is anything new. Seems like I remember one of those fad things about 10 years ago "As Seen on TV" planting systems for tomatoes that kept the tomato in standing water for the first month or so.
Cherry tomato six pack, all looked strong and equal. Six 5 gal buckets labeled A thru F. Full sun. I did not break up the roots at all, they were not root bound at all. I did not plant deep or remove the bottom leaves. Planted maybe 1/8" lower than the six pack soil level. The clay soil was out of my backyard, it has never been amended as far as I know.
A & D - Bog, small hole at the soil level, clay soil
B & E - Wet feet, holes 2" below soil level, clay soil
C - Traditional bottom holes, clay soil
F - Traditional bottom holes, store bought "Top Soil"
Very well watered, a few times to make sure each started with saturated soil. Clay soil is great at holding water.
Planted April 1 2010.
April 15, 2010
Bucket F, the traditional "Top Soil" has dropped out. It started dying right away and was basically dead after a couple of days. I had expected it to do the best. The soil had smelled of ammonia and I assume it had not been composted. I went back and read the label and it said to mix 50/50 with soil. The big name on the bag was "Top Soil" so I didn't think there would even be instructions. If this hadn't been an experiment I wouldn't have used this soil at all given the smell and crap in the mix.
All the other plants seem to be doing equally well. A & E (bog and wet feet) are best, C (traditional) close behind and B & D (wet feet and bog) are last. But I'd say these differences are normal, not all plants grow the same. Seem to at least doubled in mass, all have flower buds.
I've been watering most every day, missing one day in between at most, giving them all the water they could take. The bog never appears dry and is always muddy. The wet feet apears dry at the surface but muddy 2" down and the traditional gets a bit dry but soil is damp underneath.
Today I added a bit of 16-16-16 and picked off the aphids, just adults.
Plants that can't live in standing water die pretty fast. The roots die from lack of oxygen and then rot. These tomatoes are growing. If your tomato dies I think over watering shouldn't be on the list of causes.