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How much, how often to water?

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How much, how often to water?

Post  Barkie on 5/4/2011, 4:48 am

I know, I know Very Happy when it needs it. The question is really how often does MM need watering? How many dry days can it go before plants need watering. Do you water daily if no rain is forecast or weekly? Does MM stay nicely damp an inch or two below the surface for a fortnight without watering?

We have had the lowest rainfall in March and April since 1938 and just had the hottest April for 353 years beating the record temperatures of 2007. Unfortunately we are still getting frost at night. Additionally it has got significantly wetter from Sept to Feb and we had prolonged winter freezes these last 3 years. I read that MM retains moisture so if you have this problem of freezing solid for weeks do you cover your beds with polythene in winter?

Thanks in advance
Barkie

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 5/4/2011, 7:11 am

I water when the plants need it. If you are unsure of when that is, plant something which gets wimpy before all of the other plants. That plant is called an indicator plant. I use violets, which you can eat if you want. If you are concerned about a heat spell, use mulch. It will help to retain water. Most plants need 1-2 inches of water per week. This time of the year that translates to watering about once or twice a week. Hope this helps some.

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 5/4/2011, 10:28 am

I don't let my plants get stressed due to dry conditions. MM drains so well, I can't overwater it. So, I put it out of my mind and give them some water everyday. I have had trouble with peat moss drying and being difficult to moisten again...with plants in the box....so, I no longer gamble with that.

But, water, for us in the midwest, is fairly inexpensive when compared to what I've heard from others. Rain barrels?

I would rather cut down on the amount I water at one time and water a bit more often if I was concerned about costs.

So, to answer your question....yes. I water every day if there hasn't been any measureable rainfall.

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  pattipan on 5/4/2011, 11:11 am

This spring Mother Nature has done the watering!! I used a watering can once when I first planted my sugar snap peas, but that's about it...but then we have had an unusually wet Spring. Normally (whatever that is) I will water a little every other day to make sure new seedlings have a good start. Mel's Mix stays nice and moist, but I am always checking. We bought a 50-gallon rain barrel last year and it stood empty several times. We just got a second one, so that should ease up on the water bill.

As the plants get bigger I know that they need more water, so I may water once a day (especially the tomatoes) unless I see rain in the forecast. It does not need to be a lot of water in the cooler months, but in July and August I know the garden will need more. From early summer and into September last year we had drought conditions and high temps so I mulched almost everything with straw to help retain moisture.

So as you can see, it will vary as to how much you'll need to water! It's a good idea to check your SFG daily. If you have Mel's Mix in the box it will hold moisture very well, but as temperatures and plants go up you'll need to adjust your watering accordingly.

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  boffer on 5/4/2011, 11:23 am

If the sun is shining in the morning, I water. The theory being that it's less stress on the plant.

Newly seeded squares get watered 2-3x a day.

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How much, how often to water?

Post  sherryeo on 5/4/2011, 12:30 pm

Barkie,

I'm still a relative newby to sfgs, so am "feeling my way" around this watering thing, too. So I'm glad to see your post and the helpful answers. They say you can't overwater Mel's Mix, but I guess I'm still a little nervous about that. I've always been the type of gardener who either waters to excess or forgets to water much at all, so am trying to learn the right way.


I love Patty from Yorktown's idea of using an indicator plant, just might have to try that. Thanks, Patty! Another tip I've read here on the forum and have been using: when you have a square that you've left empty due to a large plant, such as zucchini, planted next to it, you can use that square to really dig down into MM to see if it is still moist. You might even want to leave a square empty just to be able to check the moistness, until you feel more comfortable with your judgment. I'm figuring it out as I go along! Very Happy

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  elliephant on 5/4/2011, 2:28 pm

@boffer wrote:If the sun is shining in the morning, I water. The theory being that it's less stress on the plant.

So, like once or twice a year, Boffer?

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  boffer on 5/4/2011, 3:05 pm

@elliephant wrote:
@boffer wrote:If the sun is shining in the morning, I water. The theory being that it's less stress on the plant.

So, like once or twice a year, Boffer?

ROFL Yep, it feels that way sometimes when my watering wands accumulate spider webs during the summer!

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  Barkie on 5/5/2011, 3:43 am

@Patty from Yorktown wrote:I water when the plants need it. If you are unsure of when that is, plant something which gets wimpy before all of the other plants. That plant is called an indicator plant. I use violets, which you can eat if you want. If you are concerned about a heat spell, use mulch. It will help to retain water. Most plants need 1-2 inches of water per week. This time of the year that translates to watering about once or twice a week. Hope this helps some.

Patty from Yorktown

Wimpy "time to water" indicator plants, that's clever. A violet sowed itself in the garden last year and I have just moved it into my newly built hollow wall with my alpines. If Nature hasn't obliged with rain and I'm not seeing what it's like under the surface I poke a finger in, but MM will be a whole new ball game.

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  Barkie on 5/5/2011, 4:01 am

@BackyardBirdGardner wrote:I don't let my plants get stressed due to dry conditions. MM drains so well, I can't overwater it. So, I put it out of my mind and give them some water everyday. I have had trouble with peat moss drying and being difficult to moisten again...with plants in the box....so, I no longer gamble with that.

But, water, for us in the midwest, is fairly inexpensive when compared to what I've heard from others. Rain barrels?

I would rather cut down on the amount I water at one time and water a bit more often if I was concerned about costs.

So, to answer your question....yes. I water every day if there hasn't been any measureable rainfall.

No, I don't like plants getting stressed either I think it knocks them back and opens up the window for pest or diseases.

Just about every plant I can buy here comes in a peat based or peat substitute mix which dries out real fast.

Water isn't a problem no, I have two rain barrels (see I'm taking note and learning your language, we call them water butts Laughing ) for now but I'll need two more I think. I'm far too stingy to pay for the amount of water I use in the garden nowadays cyclops

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  Barkie on 5/5/2011, 4:43 am

@pattipan wrote:This spring Mother Nature has done the watering!! I used a watering can once when I first planted my sugar snap peas, but that's about it...but then we have had an unusually wet Spring. Normally (whatever that is) I will water a little every other day to make sure new seedlings have a good start. Mel's Mix stays nice and moist, but I am always checking. We bought a 50-gallon rain barrel last year and it stood empty several times. We just got a second one, so that should ease up on the water bill.

As the plants get bigger I know that they need more water, so I may water once a day (especially the tomatoes) unless I see rain in the forecast. It does not need to be a lot of water in the cooler months, but in July and August I know the garden will need more. From early summer and into September last year we had drought conditions and high temps so I mulched almost everything with straw to help retain moisture.

So as you can see, it will vary as to how much you'll need to water! It's a good idea to check your SFG daily. If you have Mel's Mix in the box it will hold moisture very well, but as temperatures and plants go up you'll need to adjust your watering accordingly.

pattipan

It's good when Mother Nature chips in some timely help. I think She must have gone on holiday to visit you, rain just once in April is well freaky for Wales, Uk. My 2 barrels ran dry because the garden is under construction and there's a lot of seedlings in pots and trays, as well as in the ground, needing little and often watering plus older plants including some potatoes in containers. Well, as I'll need more water for MM I've got a spare 55 gallon drum round the back I can press into service. Mulch is good but I'm forever trading off the retaining moisture and keeping darn tree seeds out with it being prime real estate for slugs.

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  Barkie on 5/5/2011, 5:51 am

@boffer wrote:If the sun is shining in the morning, I water. The theory being that it's less stress on the plant.

Newly seeded squares get watered 2-3x a day.

I water in the morning this time of year mostly because it cools the soil and air round the plant as it evaporates and I get frosty nights so I want to avoid that cooling at night. The less stress theory is probably right I think. I don't remember seeing any scientific evidence for it but I have this idea that plants take in water more efficiently during the day because that's when they are losing it most through transpiration.

I routinely add vermiculite to peat based seed sowing mix but they don't sit outdoors so I'll make a mental note about watering new direct seeded squares more often, thanks.

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  Barkie on 5/5/2011, 7:24 am

@sherryeo wrote:Barkie,

I'm still a relative newby to sfgs, so am "feeling my way" around this watering thing, too. So I'm glad to see your post and the helpful answers. They say you can't overwater Mel's Mix, but I guess I'm still a little nervous about that. I've always been the type of gardener who either waters to excess or forgets to water much at all, so am trying to learn the right way.


I love Patty from Yorktown's idea of using an indicator plant, just might have to try that. Thanks, Patty! Another tip I've read here on the forum and have been using: when you have a square that you've left empty due to a large plant, such as zucchini, planted next to it, you can use that square to really dig down into MM to see if it is still moist. You might even want to leave a square empty just to be able to check the moistness, until you feel more comfortable with your judgment. I'm figuring it out as I go along! Very Happy

Hi fellow sfg newbie,

I always forget to water house-plants.

We will do fine though, a big advantage of raised beds and boxes that never get walked on is that they drain well. I reckon if I can't tell by looking then firkling around in an empty square will be just the ticket until I get used to MM.

I've started off with a weed infested wilderness so I am trying to decide how many raised beds I'll need to build. Even if I don't fill them all this year it'll be all the earthmoving and construction work done and out of the way before I lay paths etc. I was wondering how much more water I will need to store. I'm sure we'll be fine when we get into a routine.

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  Unmutual on 5/5/2011, 8:06 am

I water every day because we've been a lot dryer than usual since last year(figures that when I have the time to start veggie gardening again we go through this...). I don't water my deep box every day since it has so much shade from the onions and garlic(snails started to appear).

Last year I used the "when it needs it" method, but most of my tomatoes cracked(still edible, but not what you would call appetizing). Even watering every day, the mix still looks and feels dry the next morning. I don't, however, wet the entire square. I just put some water around the base of the veggies in that square. Seedlings or seeds that haven't sprouted yet get water every day.

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  elliephant on 5/5/2011, 8:44 am

Unmutual,

I would really consider watering the entire square. Last year I just watered around the base of the plants like you said and during the summer the surrounding MM got so dried out it started repelling water and I had a real mess on my hands. Since fall I've been at least wetting down the top of even empty squares and it has made a real difference. It may be different elsewhere, but in the south...

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  FarmerValerie on 5/5/2011, 9:01 am

I'm with elliephant on that one, do the whole square here too, even empty ones.

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  Unmutual on 5/6/2011, 8:17 am

Thanks for the info. I did notice that issue myself, but didn't really think anything of it.

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  Miss M on 5/7/2011, 12:43 am

It doesn't take much water on the empty squares to keep them moist. The very surface will dry easily, but what's beneath will stay moist as long as you wet the squares every day or two.

Even with the planted squares, it doesn't take much for most of them to keep them moist. But I live in a humid area, too, so YMMV. Cool

It's easier to keep the MM moist than it is to re-moisten it when it dries out.

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Re: How much, how often to water?

Post  Barkie on 5/7/2011, 8:20 am

Thanks for the new replies about watering the whole bed to keep the top from drying out.

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