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I have a field out of town, where I can grow vegetables, however it is too far away for me to water daily, I can do every 3 days max.

What are some good strategies to protect tomatoes from the direct sun and evaporation?

Would a plastic, semi transparent plastic cover help? Or should I rather only cover them from one side, so they can still get direct sun light the rest of the day?

What about mixing some vermiculite into the earth to hold moisture for longer? Or maybe a plastic cover around the plant, to keep the earth moist? Maybe one of these cone things?

My plants are located here: https://www.google.com/maps?q=orth+an+der+donau&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQAzICCAAyAggAMgIIADICCCYyBggAEBYQHjIGCAAQFhAeMgYIABAWEB4yBggAEBYQHjIGCAAQFhAeMgYIABAWEB46BAghEBVQ3lxY3lxg7l9oAHAAeACAAYcBiAHAA5IBAzAuNJgBAKABAaoBB2d3cy13aXo&uact=5&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj4mrPdvoTpAhUPsKQKHU5MDQkQ_AUoAXoECHQQAw

Right now its fairly dry, raining about once a week, RH mostly at about 30%-40%. There are times when it rains more frequently than that. Right now its on avg. about 20°C, but it will get to about 30 during the summer. I can water the plants every 3 days.

  • Could you please add a few details like where your plants are going to live (region, not an address) and a bit about the climate and expected rainfall? – Stephie Apr 25 at 20:51
  • Sure, added some more details! – user1721135 Apr 25 at 21:12
  • i won't click a long location link like that. i think for anyone reading along just a phrase about your location is sufficient. What matters the most with this is going to be your rainfall and also your soil conditions. sandy soils are much more of a challenge than those with more clay, – flowerbug Apr 27 at 3:06
  • Plains of Austria – user1721135 Apr 27 at 18:57
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First, I mulch my tomatoes to prevent moisture loss from the soil, to help prevent various blights/fungi, and to keep down weeds. If you don't mulch, I strongly recommend that you do so. I use a byproduct from the chocolate industry - cocoa bean hulls - because they break down over the winter. Straw, pine needles, or anything else that has a short "groundlife" would work fine.

If you mulch the plants, then I don't think you have anything to worry about. I compared your average rainfall to my own area's average rainfall so that I can give you fairly accurate advice.

Tomatoes are native to hot, relatively dry areas of North America, so I don't water my tomatoes at all (once they've established themselves after transplant), except during periods of drought. I define drought as hot, sunny, and no rain for 7 days (in July) or 10 days (in August) - the difference in days is to account for larger root systems in late summer.

BUT

My area gets roughly twice the summer rainfall that your region gets. And, I suspect you're in a hilly/mountainous area whereas I'm in a glacial outwash plain. Given these differences (especially the rainfall), I'd recommend that you water your mulched tomatoes no more than once every three or four days - and that's only if they have not received 2-3cm of rain during that time. Before watering, check the ground under the mulch and then don't water, of course, if it's already moist.

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  • So what if I have only small plants now, should I put them there now or wait until they get a little bigger? I also have a bit of a problem with the soil, its a bit sandy and doesn't hold water much, which is why I thought adding clay granulate or vermiculate might be helpful, thanks for the mulch tip, Ill try that out! – user1721135 Apr 27 at 18:51
  • The best way to build up tilth/improve water storage in soil is with a good organic mulch. Of course, this takes time, and you should have tomatoes on a three-year crop rotation to minimize diseases, so you may want to mulch this year's, next year's, and 2021's tomato beds this year. Continue this three-year mulching schedule and you'll have great soil in about 6 years. Until then, you may have to water a bit more than I noted - but track your area's rainfall - maybe you'll get lucky and you'll get an 3cm a week. – Jurp Apr 27 at 21:30
  • As for the plants... I plant my tomatoes when they're about 12-15cm high because I start the seeds later than I should. Because tomatoes root from their stems, though, a tall (20cm+) plant can be planted so deep that only the top 10cm are above ground level (just don't bury the leaves)! Planting deep like this also helps with watering, since the roots will be much lower in the soil than they would be if you didn't bury the stem. – Jurp Apr 27 at 21:35
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Plant them deep, when you put them in, only leave the top 4-6 leaves above the ground.

Get starts which are the tallest. We usually pick those that others would leave behind because they look too leggy.

Make sure your soil has some clay and organic material mixed in.

When you do water, water deeply enough to soak the whole root system.

Make sure the water soaks in and does not run off.

At the same time since you cannot be there often you should make it so that your holes that the tomato plants are put in will hold enough water to soak the root system, but that too much can run over the top and away.

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  • So basically berry the leaves underground, did I understand correctly? What can I do for water retention, because the soil there is kind of sandy and doesn't hold water well. Can I end some clay granulate for example? – user1721135 Apr 27 at 18:56
  • yes, buried leaves will wither away and roots will come out from the leaf nodes and stems. mix some clay in with your soil. it will take some work to do but is worth the effort. while you are doing that also mix in some organic materials, composted manures, etc. these will help retain both nutrients and water. – flowerbug Apr 28 at 11:59

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