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Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

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Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

Post  sanderson on 2/27/2015, 3:31 am

I realized I had gotten off topic in "The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic" with my problem of soggy MM.

----
sanderson on Wed 25 Feb 2015 - 22:10
I'm finding that the mix in the lower portions of the boxes is soggy. I think will have to really cut back on watering, even this summer, and rely on mulch to keep them evaporating at the top. Anyone else finding this problem? Soggy bottoms? Even in the deeper table tops?
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audrey.jeanne.roberts Yesterday at 11:19

I'll have to check in a week or so after the next rain.
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Turan Yesterday at 18:46

I have had soggy bottoms in 5 gallon pails planted with tomatoes. It was a nasty septic stinky anaerobic mess. Basically an inadvertent micro swamp. The problem is inadequate drainage, but that was not the real cause. The soil mix needs a better ability have air in it or to drain more itself. I added extra sand and then it all evened out. I am guessing you need more vermiculite or a larger size of vermiculite or some perlite mixed into help air get in your mix.

When you guys worry about the nutrients draining out of your TTs do you ever worry about the reverse, a build up of salts from lack of water washing through the mix? I have seen salts build up on potted plants.
----
sanderson Today at 0:25

Turan, I haven't seen any sign of salts building up. Just the soggy Mix at the bottom of the deeper beds. I thought raising them would take a deeper bed to keep it moist during the hot summer. You know, the wood bottoms and holes would dry out the deeper roots. Maybe I have too much compost in the mix! Imagine that problem. I'm glad you mentioned the 5-gallon buckets. Should I drill 4-6 1/2" holes in the sides in the lower half of the buckets? Like air pruning? I hope more folks chime in.

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Re: Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

Post  plantoid on 2/27/2015, 6:20 am

Last year I had something like 14 x 5 gall (and some  bigger )  tubs/containers in the glass house to grow my tomatoes, aubergines , capsicums and chilli peppers. There were also six 5 gallon tubs out along the house wall full of geraniums. All the tubs were on auto watering .

Those in the green house got erratic watering , because whilst we were away on 4 or so weeks holiday in Germany the pipe work came undone and the house sitters didn't realise it had happened . So these only got a fraction of the water needed for the month of August .
 Come the end of the viable gardening year I cleaned out all the tubs and also found some of them had a rotting gungy stinking mess in the bottom two or thre inches but not all of them
 
None of my outside tubs were affected .
They were watered  early morn & late at night for 15 min each time .
They were sat on smoothed concrete that had been rubbed over with a home made wooden texturing float just before it went off/dried. this left it with a very rough sandpaper textured slip resist  finish .
 Each of the tubs had their six  x 3/4 inc knockout holes opened up in the bases 

 None of the tubs in the green house that had the knockouts in the tub bottoms removed were affected either .
 Of all the remaining tubs I'd left the knockouts in place and drilled a 1/4 ( 6 mm ) hole in the side about 1 &1/4 " up from the bottom the idea being that this would make a reservoir for any excess water so that the plants could drink all day if needed.
 the five or so square 5 gallon containers that I'd cut the tops open to make tubs had knife slits  in the sides at the inch up point instead of me drilling holes.

 All of the knife slot drained  reservoir  containers developed the anaerobic mess .
 About half of the smaller tubs with 1/4 " in the sides drain holes developed the mess . as I type I seem to recall a mental picture of them being the tubs that were the ones that got a lot more of the water than the others when the pipework came adrift..

 The two  massive 80 litre tubs that I used to grow my " TOMTATOES "  experimental grafted tomato to potato slips plants also developed the mess in the bottom two inches , these two tubs had two side drilled drain holes . 
The Tomtatoes were a bit of a failure as regards to the potato side of things though they did give up three or four spuds each plant ,one of which was a nice big 1.5 pounder. they did not however grow very deep into the MM ( Due watering twice a day from the top of the tub ??? ) .
Conclusions
 Thinking about it all right now, I conclude that it was too much watering and not enough drainage , The idea of the water reservoir for a deep tub full of MM is not viable as the MM rots in the reservoir  and area just above it .
 Even making my side drain holes /knife slots would not have prevented the anaerobic decay .

 This year I will use a 3/4"  or 20 mm hole cutter on my battery drill to take out at least five holes in each tub where there is not the knockout disc option .
I will also be setting all the tubs up on strips of four or more 1" wide  cut sections of some left over 1/4" thick ceramic floor tiles. So as to make all tubs stand clear of /off the floor , to ensure they free draining right through . So that there is no capillary path / action to retain any excess water in the bottom of the tubs or to draw any water off the floor back up into the containers .

The last two lines have only just occurred to me as well and I think it is very very valid .

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Re: Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

Post  sanderson on 2/27/2015, 1:34 pm

Thanks, Plantoid. I definitely will drill larger holes. It's too late for the newly raised beds but I still can do the buckets for the tomatoes.

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Re: Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

Post  Turan on 2/27/2015, 2:21 pm

Have you ever noticed that nursery plastic pots for trees have 4+ large holes cut on the bottom edge so they let drainage from the sides and bottom?
I have found it useful in my pepper planters to but a mix with extra perlite (the big chunky kind) in the bottom third and then the richer mix with the smaller vermiculite/perlite on the top 2/3rds.

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Re: Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

Post  walshevak on 2/27/2015, 4:02 pm

I am seeing more and more posts of self watering buckets with  holes all over the sides for air pruning.  The theory is the self watering keeps the roots too wet at the bottom which is great for keeping things moist but the roots can't breathe and need side holes.

Kay

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Re: Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

Post  littlesapphire on 2/27/2015, 8:18 pm

Plantoid, sounds like you've got some cool experiments going on!  I'd especially love to read more about your tomato/potato plants (ketchup and fries, right?).

As for MM buckets getting yucky and smelly, I have never had that happen to me, and I usually keep about 6 5-gallon buckets full of MM every year.  However, I also have some plastic half barrels with blueberries potted in them, and I will say that I have had times where it rains really heavily and the berry pots fill up with water.  Upon inspection, I noticed that because the pots are so heavy, and the soil under the pots is so clay-ey, the pots sink down into the soil and plug up their drain holes.  So from now on, I make sure that all my pots have a brick or a piece of wood under them to keep their drain holes free.

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Re: Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

Post  plantoid on 2/27/2015, 8:49 pm

@Turan wrote:Have you ever noticed that nursery plastic pots for trees have 4+ large holes cut on the bottom edge so they let drainage from the sides and bottom?
I have found it useful in my pepper planters to but a mix with extra perlite (the big chunky kind) in the bottom third and then the richer mix with the smaller vermiculite/perlite on the top 2/3rds.
That' s interesting thanks .

I think I can tie that up to soem of my tubs by altering where I make the hole saw cutouts  and putting  a dozen or so hole on the sides .. I think I've enough new unused  tubs left to do three experimental tubs.

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Re: Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

Post  Turan on 2/28/2015, 12:31 pm

These are what I was thinking of, they have 6 holes, This is a 3 gallon pot.


I like these better but have never seen them in the flesh.  They claim it does an air pruning of the trees which prevents circled roots.

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Re: Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

Post  walshevak on 2/28/2015, 9:24 pm

Remind me of laundry baskets.

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Re: Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

Post  Turan on 2/28/2015, 9:53 pm

O good idea!

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Re: Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

Post  plantoid on 3/1/2015, 6:02 pm

Laundry baskets are not very strong , neither are they UV resistant .. they split very easily  as well as shattering when cold after being hit with the training dummy fired with a .22 LR blank from the gun dog's dummy training launcher .

Yes it had dry clothes in it as well Embarassed
Thankfully it was out in the garden , ready to be taken into the outbuilding that housed the washer & dryer units. Laughing 

 Those slotted baskets remind me much more of the baskets that you can use to put plants into ponds with . 
That may be a better source if they make them in sensible sizes , for they are as tough as old boots and last for ages in or out the water ..

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Re: Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

Post  AtlantaMarie on 3/1/2015, 6:52 pm

Snicker!

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Re: Soggy Mel's Mix in Raised beds or Container

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