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Mel's mix and water content

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Mel's mix and water content

Post  Khrishna on 4/21/2011, 11:59 am

Every time I water my SFG, I water each square until it starts to pool a little on top. Then I wait for that to soak in, and then do it again. But even minutes afterward, if I stick my finger into the bed, it's only wet at the surface. Is this normal? Does it have to do with the vermiculite sucking up all the water? I just want to make sure enough water is getting to the roots of my plants. It may just be that I'm impatient, but it seems to me that my plants are growing so slowly!
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re: MM

Post  westie42 on 4/21/2011, 1:13 pm

Many folks in central USA from Dallas to the Canada border are complaining about a slow start and similar problems. It is colder and sometimes damper than most springs which I think is largely responsible for more than usual problems. Wendy HS near Dallas for one is having the same troubles. Your plants should wither or wilt if enough water is not available you seem to show the opposite problem or your new MM is not quite settled into a healthy balance. Some good warm weather would be nice. I would try making some good robust Compost Tea then water with it instead including drenching the leaves on each plant and back off the regular tap water for a short while to see if that helps. If the Tea does not interest you then try slowing down on the watering for a short time to see if that helps. Check the MM at the bottom of your boxes before you water to see is it has excessive moisture to verify my too wet theory.

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Re: Mel's mix and water content

Post  elliephant on 4/21/2011, 3:12 pm

Did you get the MM wet in layers as you filled the box? It can really be hard to hydrate if you didn't. (Ask me how I know Embarassed )

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Re: Mel's mix and water content

Post  walshevak on 4/21/2011, 3:32 pm

If only the top layer of your MM is moist, I suspect you never got it watered in (soaked) all the way. Peat is a bear to get hydrated the first time. I forgot to water in layers the first few bed and thought I was never gonna get all the mix wet. I was sure it was wet because it was draining out the bottoms of my table tops, but when I went to plant I found dry areas. So I watered in the morning, watered in the afternoon, waited till the next day and watered again. For some reason the waiting time allowed it to absorb the water better. Now I only water when the top starts drying out and the lower levels seem to stay moist.

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Re: Mel's mix and water content

Post  Furbalsmom on 4/21/2011, 5:27 pm

My four ft by four ft by eight inch table top took 25 gallons of water (10 - 2 1/2 gal watering cans) slowly poured in one watering can at a time (and allowing it to soak up before the next watering can full of water was slowly added) to fully hydrate the MM. I put in 2 inch layers of MM then added water to each layer.

If your MM is not moist all the way through, I would suggest that you continue to add water slowly, several times a day until the MM is damp all the way through. If there are dry spots, the MM will pool on top and resist hydration, so you have to be very patient. Lack of water is very stressful for your plants.
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Re: Mel's mix and water content

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/21/2011, 9:42 pm

Do you have all your squares planted? If so, you will have to be very careful.

I just discovered the same thing in my garden yesterday. I have a 2x8 SFG under an eave (the eave is 2 stories high, though). But, apparently it gets zero rainfall most times. So, my peat moss dried out (I built the bed in February and it hasn't had plants in it because it's my tomato/pepper bed). I wet the surface, it puddled, and never got underneath. I had to hand mix everything again. It was a mucky, muddy, messy mess of an event. But, it has to be done. You will be surprised as you "puddle and mix" how much peat still explodes from bubbles of dry. Everytime I swirled my hands around I uncovered more. I kept going until it stopped and I could FEEL the difference in the consistency....it got really sticky. Then, I moved on to the next square....lol.

If you have plants in squares, I would do this as much as you can near the root systems and hope they grow towards the moisture and find it.

But, like others have said, if you keep watering LIGHTLY several times a day, you will eventually get thoroughly moist MM. Flooding it, without mixing it, seems to make the repellent part of the peat angry. So, be gentle unless you are mixing it by hand as you flood with water.
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Re: Mel's mix and water content

Post  boffer on 4/21/2011, 10:01 pm

@BackyardBirdGardner wrote: I wet the surface, it puddled, and never got underneath. I had to hand mix everything again. It was a mucky, muddy, messy mess of an event. But, it has to be done. You will be surprised as you "puddle and mix" how much peat still explodes from bubbles of dry. Everytime I swirled my hands around I uncovered more. I kept going until it stopped and I could FEEL the difference in the consistency....it got really sticky. Then, I moved on to the next square....lol.

That's a great description. I did it today with a box that I had covered last fall. It was as dry as brand new. Yuck, what a mess getting it hydrated. It was a table top so I had the advantage of seeing when the water was running out the bottom. That's when it's time to go do something else for a while, then come back and add more water.
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Re: Mel's mix and water content

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/22/2011, 1:34 am

Watch those toes in those flip-flops! Icky when wet.....and that promotes fungus....the kind they call Athlete's Foot? (Although, no one in my family is athletic....hmmmmmmmmm......irony?)
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Re: Mel's mix and water content

Post  Khrishna on 4/25/2011, 11:18 am

Thanks, everybody. It appears I didn't get the mix wet enough when we were first filling the boxes. Saturday night I picked up a soaker hose to string through all my boxes. Hopefully that will help. Also on Sunday, for the first time this year we finally got a good soaking rain. I checked the MM in the boxes after the rain had finished, and it was much damper. Now if we can just get the soaker hose in place, we'll capitalize on the head start the rain gave us!
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Re: Mel's mix and water content

Post  Miss M on 4/29/2011, 2:29 am

It does sound to me like your MM never got completely wet. We thoroughly watered and stirred and watered and stirred each batch of mix as we put it into the garden. It took a lot of water!

I have gotten peat moss wet before in small batches by putting it in water and squishing it. I have also used a few drops of soap in the water to break the surface tension, and make it easier for it to wet the peat moss. You may be able to put some soap in the water in a watering can, and it may help the peat moss get wet.

I have used the soap without regard for what sort of soap it is, since I was using so little. I've never had it hurt plants. If you're concerned, you could get some natural or glycerine soap or something.

Come to think of it, when we treat for ants aroung edibles, we use cheap detergent soap powder and water it in. Hasn't hurt a thing yet.

Thankfully, while peat moss is difficult to get wet, it is very easy to keep wet.

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Loving this forum already

Post  vee on 5/15/2012, 9:10 pm

I got a late start with my garden, but it sounds like I was lucky to have rain do the soaking job for me. I'm glad I didn't let my farm-grown husband talk me out of the MM.
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