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Water and SFG

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Water and SFG

Post  Chopper on 6/2/2010, 7:03 pm

One of the selling points of a SFG is less water use. I have seen people comment that they are using MORE water. Hard to tell here b/c So Cal gets no natural water from now until fall pretty much so water addition is always needed.

Some of my beds are MM exactly as Mel suggests and some are fudged for budget purposes. I do not notice a lot of difference from bed to be water wise. However, I did mulch a few of my plants with about an inch of dried grass clippings and have noticed that the soil under the clippings stays cool and moist while the soil in the exposed dirt is moist under the top crust, but the top definitely dries out.

Any other water input or observations? Maybe it is not as much of an issue once the plants get bigger and shade the ground more?

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Re: Water and SFG

Post  Megan on 6/2/2010, 7:28 pm

I feel your pain, at least in memory, because I lived in So Cal for about 7 years. It was miserable trying to keep a few simple flowers alive, much less a whole garden!

Mine bed mixes are fudged too, have to admit, but everything does have peat and vermiculite and does seem to drain nicely.

I had hoped to go the bucket route, supplemented by inverting a few bottles with holes punched in them into the ground near some of the really thirsty plants (watermelon, cukes, etc)... but just a week or so taught me that was not going to work for me. I would love to commune with the plants by hand-ladling each one a dipper of water, but I simply don't have the time to do that 2 to 3 times a day (not to mention the time it takes to re-fill that bucket.) So I installed a buried misting system over Memorial Day. It cost under $50 and is working very well so far. I am still playing with the different sprinkler heads (different coverage patterns) and will probably change those out and/or move them as the plants get bigger, but that won't be difficult. (I probably will still half-bury those gallon jugs by the watermelon and cukes, though.)

The misting system has only been running a few days so I am still playing with it and not sure how it impacts our water bill. I have been running it 15-20 minutes in the morning on days we don't expect rain. (Today I gave it a second 20 minutes this evening, because there seems to be a growth spurt going on and it's been a very hot couple of days.) I'm hoping I can eventually get to watering 30 minutes ever other morning, just still learning how the soil reacts and what our wacky weather is doing.

I am not sure what I am going to do about mulch. No grass clippings as most of my lawn is gone now! I do have some straw left so I'll probably spread that a bit later. Sad to say, a few of my plants are still so small they'd be lost in it! Wink
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Re: Water and SFG

Post  martha on 6/3/2010, 12:10 pm

My garden is too big this year for the individual ladling approach. I do still think I use a lot less water, because with the hose on a gentle stream, I am still watering the individual plants. At some point, if the weather doesn't send rain on a convenient schedule, I will have to soak the entire bed, so there is reserve moisture for the little guys, but for the moment, although I do miss the individual quality time with each plant, it definitely takes less extra water than using a hose on a regular garden.

I do suspect that the individualized misting system or similar things would be better than what I am doing, but for me, that will be next year.
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Re: Water and SFG

Post  mybeth on 6/3/2010, 3:24 pm

We have had some super warm weather lately and I have been watering in the morning and at night just for a few minutes with the misting setting. Texas has been unseasonably hot though. In the spring and fall, I was doing every few days .
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Re: Water and SFG

Post  Megan on 6/3/2010, 5:54 pm

martha wrote:I do suspect that the individualized misting system or similar things would be better than what I am doing, but for me, that will be next year.

Martha, it's not really individualized misting per plant, but there are stakes which you can locate here and there, and each stake supports a head which can distribute mist in a variety of patterns. (E.g. 90-degree spread, 180, 240, 360, and a number of other ways.) I have two stakes per bed (they are 9x3 and 8x4 beds) and if I planned it a bit better I could probably get away with 1 per while the plants are small. The starter kit was just $31, but I ended up buying a handful of 90-degree T connectors so the system would fit more neatly, plus a Y-diverter for the water bib so I could still use my regular hose when needed. Good luck with it next year if you try it; it was easy to put in!
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Re: Water and SFG

Post  timwardell on 6/3/2010, 9:41 pm

My MM is by the book and I've mulched with 1-2 inches of pine needles. Exposed MM dries out in a hurry while the stuff under the mulch stays moist much longer. It's been in the mid 90's all week and is expected to hit 100 this weekend. The lawn sprinklers get most of the SFG twice a week. I use a drip line on the other days that I run for about 45 minutes to an hour. Occasionally I'll water by hand with the hose just to spend some quality time with my plants. Overall though I'd say I'm watering more often, but using less water when I do, and I'm not wasting any water since every square is planted.
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