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Filling my first bed right now, help with water please

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Filling my first bed right now, help with water please

Post  66stitches on 5/5/2014, 2:39 pm

Hi! 

Making my mels mix this aft and filling my first bed. Wondering about water.

I know I read to be sure to saturate the peat once it's in the bed, and to water after filling each third. My question is how much? Should it be sopping? Just damp? I thought I put on a lot of water, it was pooling in places, then I turned over a corner and it was dry just under the top few millimetres. 

So should I be sure it's soaked down through? Should I mix it up in the bed once I water? 

Sorry, such a newbie!

Thanks!
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Same Question!

Post  shegardens on 5/5/2014, 3:22 pm

I'm about to add my premade Mel's Mix....
Had no idea I had to water it!
All advice appreciated!
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Re: Filling my first bed right now, help with water please

Post  boffer on 5/5/2014, 3:55 pm

We've only had one member on the forum who had the patience to measure the amount of water it takes to properly saturate a box of MM for the first time.  In a 6 inch box, figure about 1 gallon of water per square foot.  There are any number of variables that could affect that number, but it's a good starting place.

It takes me the better part of a day to properly saturate a box of new MM.  Add water, stir, add water, stir, and wait.  Come back a little bit later and do it again.  And again.  It takes awhile for the peat to soak up the water.  Definitely dig down to the bottom to check.  Mel says you can't over-water, so I don't worry about that.  Hopefully, if you get too much water in at once, you'll be able to see it draining out.  

I will water established boxes that have no plants in them just to keep the MM wet, as that's easier than starting all over with a dry box.
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Re: Filling my first bed right now, help with water please

Post  66stitches on 5/5/2014, 4:00 pm

Ever so grateful, thank you!
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Re: Filling my first bed right now, help with water please

Post  shegardens on 5/5/2014, 4:06 pm

Me Too!!!
I never would have even thought to water it... wonder what would've happened...
So thanks to 66stitches for posting the question and thanks
to boffer for the quick answer!
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Re: Filling my first bed right now, help with water please

Post  boffer on 5/5/2014, 4:08 pm

Glad I could help.   Very Happy

Yes, it's best to get your MM saturated before adding plants or seeds.
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Re: Filling my first bed right now, help with water please

Post  plantoid on 5/5/2014, 5:50 pm

one drop of eco type dish drops liquid per gallon of water will also make the water wetter ( breaks down the surface tension so it can penetrate / gain entry to the fibres much quicker.

 As it is an eco product it will do no harm to the bed other than add a minute amount of nutrient .
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Re: Filling my first bed right now, help with water please

Post  sanderson on 5/5/2014, 5:59 pm

@boffer wrote:
I will water established boxes that have no plants in them just to keep the MM wet, as that's easier than starting all over with a dry box.

Ditto
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Re: Filling my first bed right now, help with water please

Post  yolos on 5/5/2014, 6:09 pm

+2
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Re: Filling my first bed right now, help with water please

Post  H_TX_2 on 5/5/2014, 6:25 pm

Occasionally when I am making a small batch of MM I will place the peat into a container of water an let it soak until I mix all the ingredients together. I'm sure there would be a way to do this when making a large batch but I have not tried that yet. You might need some cheese cloth or something so you can strain out the peat.
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Re: Filling my first bed right now, help with water please

Post  lyndeeloo on 5/5/2014, 6:38 pm

I just ran into this situation today. Thought I had watered the beds really well yesterday, went to plant today and the beds were dry, dry, dry. I was really surprised and spent almost an hour trying to water the mix in 5 4x4 beds. Will wait til tomorrow, water some more and then plant. Learned my lesson!!! Keep it watered, even if it is not planted.
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Re: Filling my first bed right now, help with water please

Post  Marc Iverson on 5/5/2014, 7:01 pm

I often mix my MM in 5-gallon buckets. I'll fill one about a third of the way full with water, then slowly add in peat moss, crumbling as finely as I can and then stirring it as I go. Leaving a few inches at the top to allow for slopping over and to make mixing easier, I visually divide the bucket into thirds and add one of those third's worth of peat moss into the water. If I'm in no hurry, I'll let it soak overnight.

Next comes the vermiculite, because the peat and water will still be pretty loose and easy to turn, and I don't want to be smashing the vermiculite into smaller pieces. If that mixture is left overnight, with plenty of water, by the next morning much of the water will have been absorbed and the preliminary mix will feel like a a moist sludge. I'll consider this bucket of peat and vermiculite my "two-thirds mix," ready to combine, in a separate bucket, with blended compost to make the final mix.

Then comes the blended compost, adding more water if necessary to keep the mixture from getting too dry. Which at that point should be pretty easy to do. At any rate, the basic plan is to soak the real water-absorbing components overnight so as to let time do a lot of the work of evening out the moisture penetration.

It's a little time-consuming and best for mixing smaller amounts. But there's nothing preventing the use of a couple of buckets at a time, which I've also done. For smaller amounts, I find the mixing and wetting process much easier and more user-friendly this way than trying to wet all the ingredients at the same time and wet them all together, all the while hoping the peat doesn't clump up too much. It's all very well mixed and wetted by the time it even sees any compost.
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