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It's April, failure #1 already in

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It's April, failure #1 already in

Post  No_Such_Reality on 4/18/2012, 11:50 am

So my cursed bed with the poor mix in it got me again. http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t11635p15-watering-time-is-sucking-the-fun-out-of-gardening#113862

I'll be adding more compost to freshen and a heavy dose of vermiculite. I'm not sure why I can't keep that bed hydrated.

I'm not sure how the long soaking rain we had on Thursday and Saturday didn't soak the bed down. I was stunned to find only an inch of damp soil on top and then 5 inches of bone dry going down.

It's a long thin bed 1.5'x12' against the north block wall on the property line. The neighbor has a lime and lemon tree on the other side of the all.

So... to attempt a repair of the soil mix in the bed or rip it all out, do fresh year 1 mix with store bought compost (not enough on hand).

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Re: It's April, failure #1 already in

Post  1airdoc on 4/18/2012, 2:20 pm

I didn't see this in your previous post, but the use of dry peat moss can be problematic if you used it in your planting mix. If you used dry peat, it will give you the very problem you are describing.

I learned the hard way my first year in SFG that the peat has to be thoroughly moistened before adding it into the mix. If you've already used dry peat in your mix, you must wet the mix (which will only moisten the superficial layer), then stir the mix up up, getting the dry mix to the surface, then wet again, and repeat this process over and over until the mix is thoroughly moistened from top to bottom. Once it is moist, the peat holds water well, but until then, it actually resists moisture.

When I made MM this year, I first dumped out the peat one thin layer at a time and thoroughly moistened each layer by spraying it with water, then gradually adding another thin layer at a time until the whole batch was moistened. Then I used the moistened peat to make my MM. That worked far better for me.

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Re: It's April, failure #1 already in

Post  littlesapphire on 4/18/2012, 2:29 pm

I seriously love MM, but I have to say that when it's dry, it's a real pain to work with. It's almost impossible to get it to soak up water if you don't know its secrets. When I built my new boxes, I layered on a couple of inches and really thoroughly drenched it. Then I'd layer on more and drench it again, until the box was full. Then if you're not going to be using the boxes for a while, cover them up to keep them from dryinig out. If you're wetting boxes that are already filled, you have to get your hands dirty. Get down there and mix the MM with your hands with the hose on. Get it soupy. I've even had to do this around plants because the soil had dried up around them. Don't give up on your mix, just make sure to keep it nice and wet.

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Re: It's April, failure #1 already in

Post  Goosegirl on 4/18/2012, 2:49 pm

I was thinking it sounds like a peat problem as well - either allowed to dry out or too much peat in the mix. (Don't ask how I know about peat.....)

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Re: It's April, failure #1 already in

Post  Chopper on 4/18/2012, 3:24 pm

Ditto on the peat. However, if you take a hose and a trowel you may be able to do this without starting from scratch. With the trowel create a hole and fill it with water, then do a little mixing of the surrounding soil. Obviously this is somewhat tedious and will take awhile but ask me how I know it works? LOL. Adding a little more compost at that time can't hurt and you are right, those rains should have easily soaked your beds.

There are lots of places here and there that talk about peat and its need to be moistened, but not everywhere. It is easy to miss. Pain in the a** I realize, but almost certainly the cause of your troubles.

...(edit) I did not see all of littlesaphire's comment. BUt that is exactly it. Water and mix by hand until you can feel it is all wet. You have to break a pretty strong surface tension with peat.

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Getting MM thoroughly wet

Post  tomperrin on 4/18/2012, 3:51 pm

Standing by the box dribbling water on new or dry MM doesn't cut it. What I have learned to do is put the hose nozzle on a high pressure setting ("shower" setting works on my nozzle), place the nozzle an inch from the surface of the MM, and blast away. This makes the mix soupy right away. I do this in each square. By the time I'm done with the last square, the first is ready to plant.

Tom

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Re: It's April, failure #1 already in

Post  Lindacol on 4/18/2012, 3:53 pm

I'm not very far from you - maybe 20 miles NE. We had maybe an inch of rain saturday but it dried out so fast that rainwater caught in buckets was gone by monday and I have been watering since then. In my experience MM requires more frequent watering in our dry area.

3 of my 4 beds are doing fine. The one bed was started with a much higher proportion of compost and is giving me some problems. It is one of the beds on the ground. The other 2 are my first tabletops and I can see they are going to require water more often than the others but for shorter periods of time.

You do have to pay attention to the drip watering. I neglected to flush the line when I installed the new beds and got the line plugged up in my original 4x8 bed. Luckly I figured it out right away. And I replaced some of the end plugs with on/off valves so that I can easily flush/check the lines.

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MM

Post  CharlesB on 4/18/2012, 5:01 pm

My MM is doing the same thing. Can't seem to get moisture more than an inch down. Plants don't seem to be suffering from it though. I have too many plants in it to mix it all up and hard water it. I'm just going to keep soaking it to see if I can get the moisture deep.

We haven't had any significant rain in weeks so the peet is too dry.

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Re: It's April, failure #1 already in

Post  Chopper on 4/18/2012, 5:16 pm

You can also put the hose right into the mix. Shove it down a couple of inches and let it do its thing. Just do a bit of a feel test to make sure there aren't any big dry spots left.

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Re: It's April, failure #1 already in

Post  No_Such_Reality on 4/18/2012, 5:29 pm

I originally started with moist peat. Not dry compressed, but it thoroughly dried out due to my drip irrigation failures last year. I thoroughly resoaked, replanted in the fall and tried a new drip irrigation system, with the cooler weather (hardly) I was expecting to get by. The garlic seems to be doing okay, the lettuces not so much. But again, the dry patches slowly spread.

My problem is simple, I'm trying to drive the drip from a replaced sprinkler head. With the every other day watering, it's not keeping up. Any small gaps in coverage coupled with hot weather and I get slowly expanding peat burn-outs (dried out dead zone).

I've planned my remedy. I'll frontally assault. Taking inspiration from Hoggar's thread, http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t11301-pvc-watering-grid#113872

I've planned a new bed irrigation driven by the faucet that's near. I'm now debating between using threaded rainbird bubblers (8 stream mini-streamers) or going with a simple drilled PVC route as on other you-tube videos. I figure I can build a simple T-shaped with the long cross going the length of the bed. I can expand it to add a second if I need.

I like the idea of the streamers as I can adjust the flow separate from the faucet. Plus it's a lot less holes. That said, the simple hole technic is literally, just drilling holes. The other technic means I'm breaking out the drill and the threader.

So, do you think I'd have better coverage by running down the middle with 360* (that's my degree sign), streamers overlapped for head to head coverage, or run it down the long end with 180* sprayers overlapped for head to head coverage?

Perhaps I should ask the most basic question... once a day, twice a day, every other day? For watering frequency. I've always like deep waterings with a little dry out between, but MM and the peat in it really seems to turn into a problem with the SoCal heat waves.



Side note, my containers are doing just fine, I can keep them moist with sporadic watering. The wooden boxes are a bit more finicky with drying quickly, but still do fine with less frequent watering.

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Our last rain was March 29 2012

Post  tomperrin on 4/18/2012, 6:32 pm

@CharlesB wrote:My MM is doing the same thing. Can't seem to get moisture more than an inch down. Plants don't seem to be suffering from it though. I have too many plants in it to mix it all up and hard water it. I'm just going to keep soaking it to see if I can get the moisture deep.

We haven't had any significant rain in weeks so the peet is too dry.

I water every day, sometimes twice a day. I have been watering shrubs and small trees for a couple of weeks. Today's sprinkle is not doing a thing, other than keeping the dust down. We're supposed to have a decent rain on Sunday, but I won't wait.

Tom

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Re: It's April, failure #1 already in

Post  kbb964 on 4/18/2012, 6:36 pm

I am in Michigan and my beds are having to be sprayed several times a day, I cant use the hose as I dont want to wash seeds away so I use one of those 2gal pump
spray bottles.

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Re: It's April, failure #1 already in

Post  plantoid on 4/18/2012, 6:45 pm

Wetting dried out peat.

The science behind it.. water has a surface tension / skin , hard water with lots of lime or dissolved salts in it has a tough skin .

So to make the water wetter to penetrate the fibres of the peat .. add a three or four of drops of a non bio, non antiseptic shop brought dish wash up liquid to a couple of gallons of tepid water in a watering can give it a good stir and water it in using a fine rose on a watering can . do thins on a cloudy day or in the evening whenthe sun has dropped below the effective height in the sky .

After a few minutes you'll see the top fibres have started to accept the wetter water , give it another dose and then water as normal , the next day check to see how deep it has penetrated . repeat if needed for up to two more times . Don't over do it.

Don't use dishwasher machine liquids as these have all sorts of harsh grease strippers & surfactant cleaners s in them . Don't use home made dish drops .

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Re: It's April, failure #1 already in

Post  plantoid on 4/18/2012, 6:52 pm

@No_Such_Reality wrote:I originally started with moist peat. Not dry compressed, but it thoroughly dried out due to my drip irrigation failures last year. I thoroughly resoaked, replanted in the fall and tried a new drip irrigation system, with the cooler weather (hardly) I was expecting to get by. The garlic seems to be doing okay, the lettuces not so much. But again, the dry patches slowly spread.

My problem is simple, I'm trying to drive the drip from a replaced sprinkler head. With the every other day watering, it's not keeping up. Any small gaps in coverage coupled with hot weather and I get slowly expanding peat burn-outs (dried out dead zone).

I've planned my remedy. I'll frontally assault. Taking inspiration from Hoggar's thread, http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t11301-pvc-watering-grid#113872

I've planned a new bed irrigation driven by the faucet that's near. I'm now debating between using threaded rainbird bubblers (8 stream mini-streamers) or going with a simple drilled PVC route as on other you-tube videos. I figure I can build a simple T-shaped with the long cross going the length of the bed. I can expand it to add a second if I need.

I like the idea of the streamers as I can adjust the flow separate from the faucet. Plus it's a lot less holes. That said, the simple hole technic is literally, just drilling holes. The other technic means I'm breaking out the drill and the threader.

So, do you think I'd have better coverage by running down the middle with 360* (that's my degree sign), streamers overlapped for head to head coverage, or run it down the long end with 180* sprayers overlapped for head to head coverage?

Perhaps I should ask the most basic question... once a day, twice a day, every other day? For watering frequency. I've always like deep waterings with a little dry out between, but MM and the peat in it really seems to turn into a problem with the SoCal heat waves.



Side note, my containers are doing just fine, I can keep them moist with sporadic watering. The wooden boxes are a bit more finicky with drying quickly, but still do fine with less frequent watering.

You can get water retaining gel crystals to mix in your garden as well . don't know if that route would help you out . A tiny 1/8 in cube /crystal will swell to nearly a 1/2 inch blob of jelly .

I have large grain vermiculite in all my beds ..some is neary 1/2 x 3/16 x 1/4 thick in size , it appears to hold the water well , so I made sure that I had a good 1/3 volume of if in my MM

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Re: It's April, failure #1 already in

Post  Chopper on 4/18/2012, 7:33 pm

For here, especially as it warms up ABSOLUTELY no less than once a day and probably better one early morning and one early evening so the plant surfaces can dry before it gets dark. You can also leave the early evening to as needed based on checking yourself.

One little (when the air is dry) problem is leaving wet plants all night long - tends to promote fungus. That is why I prefer that schedule.

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Re: It's April, failure #1 already in

Post  subsonic on 4/20/2012, 6:54 am

I am in Riverside Ca and have experienced the same phenom with peat
so I have done 2 things to prevent it, I use bubblers in the garden which sets up a sheet of water to soak in. Also I spray the top of the mulch a few times a day any day it is over 90
now to cure the dry you have now
what the problem is, the dry part is not wicking because it does not have enough wet around it to wick. You are going have to either make some holes in the dirt to fill up with water so they dirt around it can be exposed to a lot of water, or do a lot of stirring, either way the problem will not be solved without a bit of work. I do not use peat for this reason.
With the amount of sun and heat we have in SoCal drying out is a problem. I use vermiculite, heavy compost and native soil in the 1/3 amounts as a starter and keep it fresh by taking off the top 1 inch every time I replant, throwing half of that out and the other half mixed 1/2 and 1/2with a heavy mulch which I use to replace the soil I took off. Not Me'ls method but with 3 months that can carry triple digit heat I adapted.

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My weak backbone

Post  No_Such_Reality on 4/23/2012, 1:58 pm

I got dirty this weekend. Very Happy

After spending a better part of Saturday oiling the wood patio furniture, I dug into the raised bed. Hose in hand, I souped the whole thing except between the garlic.

Inch by inch, square by square, drill down with the hose, stir, flood, soup, move over, repeat. By the time I got three squares over, the original soaked square had drained back to a good wetness without being flooded.

So the bad news for anybody else struggling with dryness. While I'd previously flooded, scooped turned a couple times, my bed was still littered with golf ball size dry clumps. There were a few dry clumps in every square. And that's with most of the plants ripped out. A little golf ball powder dry clump would be sitting right in the middle of the soup. The mix would then drain away to a next wet moist level but leave the clump still dry, they each had to be broken up by hand.

Then mixed up about 6 cu ft of new mel's mix, soaked it and topped the bed.

Sunday, I went to make up for lost time. I bought 4inch containers of peppers from the nursery, another tomato. Added beans from seed and transplanted a couple melons.

Now to see if the original water set up will keep it wet or if the PVC water pipe I'm making will be needed.

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Dripped mine this time

Post  barmstr on 4/25/2012, 12:15 am

Last year was a disaster with weather, water and a drip system that was not right. Went to Hendricksons Irrigation in Corona, Ca and talked to one of the sales people about the problem. He also has a SFG and showed me what he has done with drippers. He has a 1/2" line going across the head of the bed and uses 6 dripper lines that have emiters every 6 inches going the full length of the bed. I followed this plan and it seems to be working. If an area is not getting enough water, I just move the line over a little. Before installing, I had soaked the bed with more water than I wanted to use but had to get everything super wet.

With the warm weather coming, I'm increasing the water time to keep it moist. During the summer, I'll probably water twice a day.

Now that it is getting warmer, all the seeds a coming up as well as great growth of the veggies I bought at the nursery.

Enjoy the dig,
Bruce Laughing

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Re: It's April, failure #1 already in

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