This is how I like to water my tomato, squash, melon and pepper plants:
• First, dig a moat around the plants. (For the vacation-starved gardener, imagine you're creating a little palm tree on its own desert isle, which in my case is as close as I'll probably get to the real thing. Is my husband reading this?)
With tomatoes and squash use a one-foot radius for the moat; peppers can be a bit smaller.
• Use hose to fill water ring, let water soak into the soil, then fill again. Go away for a week. (Like, on a trip?)
If you'd like you can make channels to join all the water rings together to make watering easier. It will be like having your very own grownup sand box. (Again, do I need a vacation or what?) One year, while I didn't plan it, the five tomato plants in my garden box formed perfect Olympic rings as a lead-in to the China summer games. (Someone get me out of here!)
This method allows you to do a thorough, deep watering. Infrequent, deep watering helps plants form strong roots. Water rings are especially useful in clay soil to contain, and allow to soak, the water that would normally run off. l I water my tomatoes every 7-10 days this way. As you can see I also use grass clippings as a mulch to retain moisture.