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help with avoiding overwatering

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help with avoiding overwatering

Post  Feistywidget on Sat 05 Nov 2011, 7:13 pm

Apparently most gardeners if they kill their plants, they do so by watering too much, rather than too little. However, my question is how can you avoid this?!

I know that you shouldn't water when the soil is already wet, and you should use well draining soil.
However, with container gardening, you need to water more frequently because the soil just dries out faster in comparison to stuff growing in the ground; it just goes with the territory of container gardening.

I'm wondering if self-watering containers (I've seen them) remedy this problem of over-watering or does it tend to make the soil too wet, and is more of a hindrance then a help?

Does SFG boxes fall under container gardening, and like with forms of container gardening, does the soil tend to dry out faster in comparison to growing stuff in the ground. I've heard rain water is the best type of water for plants. However if you've just watered your plants, and then it rains the same day, then should they be moved to place where they'll stay dry so they don't get waterlogged?

This is probably going to sound like a very stupid question, but if it's always dry, and doesn't rain frequently, then do you need to water daily. This question is in reference to container gardening and the SFG boxes.

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Re: help with avoiding overwatering

Post  llama momma on Sat 05 Nov 2011, 7:33 pm

I think I know why you are having problems with getting quick answers. Let me try to help if I may. The Non Square Foot topics could be things like dehydrating foods, recipes, and many others. I think I speak for the overwhelming majority of folks on this forum in saying this, we have Read the book. It details Everything you need to know in a very simplified manner, and under 300 pages! I will say it is foolproof if you follow the directions. I gather you want to do your own thing which is fine of course but it leaves you with questions that we simply do not deal with and perhaps in many cases do not have answers for you. All New Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew. Get your hands on this book. I was amazed, impressed and have never been so happy with a garden, and I just completed one year of the SFG method!
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Re: help with avoiding overwatering

Post  stripesmom on Sat 05 Nov 2011, 7:54 pm

@Feistywidget wrote:Apparently most gardeners if they kill their plants, they do so by watering too much, rather than too little. However, my question is how can you avoid this?!

You may hear this again, but you really can't over water SFG's. There are drainage holes in the bottom of the boxes or they set on top of the soil. The Mel's Mix (MM for short) will only retain so much moisture, then it drains out.

I'm wondering if self-watering containers (I've seen them) remedy this problem of over-watering or does it tend to make the soil too wet, and is more of a hindrance then a help?

I have not used these, but have read of them and plan on using some next year. Google global buckets, this comes to mind first, but there are other methods. My first thought is no, they are not going to cause too much moisture or not enough.

Does SFG boxes fall under container gardening, and like with forms of container gardening, does the soil tend to dry out faster in comparison to growing stuff in the ground.

#1-if SFG were container gardening, then apples would be oranges. In other words, yes, you do garden in a container of sorts, no the soil doesn't dry out as fast, but there's other things to know too. #2-I forgot.

I've heard rain water is the best type of water for plants. However if you've just watered your plants, and then it rains the same day, then should they be moved to place where they'll stay dry so they don't get waterlogged?


Rain water is great, but if you read the book Mel wrote, you'd find out that he suggests filling a 5 gallon pail with tap water and letting it set a day. This helps the chemicals that they add to the water evaporate and it warms the water. Plants like warm water, like you like a warm shower. Will they be waterlogged? Please look back up at answer #1.


This is probably going to sound like a very stupid question, but if it's always dry, and doesn't rain frequently, then do you need to water daily. This question is in reference to container gardening and the SFG boxes.

As I was told once, there are no stupid questions. Yes, you do have to water daily and some times, twice a day. But, this is the difference, you only use a small amount of water. I didn't see much of an increase in my water bill. With container gardening, using a potting soil, you will not have the ability to retain as much moisture in your soil.

In other words, you will water less, retain more moisture, but have no fear of over watering with this method.
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Re: help with avoiding overwatering

Post  Chopper on Sat 05 Nov 2011, 8:03 pm

You can underwater and SFG but you can't overwater it.

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Re: help with avoiding overwatering

Post  stripesmom on Sat 05 Nov 2011, 8:23 pm

Forgot to say (guess that was the #2), you only water daily if it hasn't rained or if the MM is still moist.

If your really interested in this method, I encourage you to read the books. Many people read them over and over again, often a person misses what you first read. There is so much more to learn than what you can ask here.
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Re: help with avoiding overwatering

Post  littlejo on Sat 05 Nov 2011, 8:51 pm


Just add all the water you can to a pot of soil. Then add all the water you can to a pot full of Mel's mix.
You will see the difference. In a few minutes, the MM will be ready to plant in. The pot with the 'soil' will be muddy and will have to dry out before you can plant.
I spoke to my county extension agent this summer. She says that using a soiless mix, like MM, puts the garden in a catagory all by itself.
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