Watering on a schedule
Some of you may be familiar with the "Interpreting the Dowel" thread that I started a few weeks ago. I learned much from my experiments. I identified a number of very subtle changes that many of my plants exhibit prior to going dry, such as changes in the texture and shine of some leaves and slight curling of others - just to name a few. These indicators are subtle, however, if you know what to look for they are clear as day. That alone was worth the time and trouble it took me to complete this task.
I found something more valuable though, at least to me, and that is this. What I found through a few weeks of constantly monitoring soil conditions - both before and after waterings - is that the sweet spot...the "Goldilocks Zone" so to speak...that level of moisture where we want to allow our plants to reside, has a very large window of existence. This is due, of course, to the superior mixes that Al has graced us with.
Through my efforts I found that the wet end of the "Goldilocks Zone" comes very quickly after a thorough watering - generally within hours. While the dry end of this zone, conversly and for the most part, exists until just hours before the plants go dry....or at least dryer than I would like them to be ;) Anywho, the point is that the plants are going to be receptive to water and nutrients - and protected against inhibited root functionality - across a pretty wide range of that "Goldilock's Zone". I'm not saying that you can stay the wet end all the time, but still, a pretty wide range.
The reason for the title of this thread, "Watering on a Schedule" is that, based on my findings, I feel comfortable in saying that you *CAN* successfully water on a schedule. However, to do this without comprimising the potential of your plants you need to take the time and the effort to identify a reasonable schedule that *fits your plants, not you*. You also need to understand that environmental conditions will play a role for certain scheduled waterings, but because of the nature of the mixes that we use it is easy to get back on schedule without much difficulty or detriment. You also need to understand that your schedule will increase in frequency as the seasons change and the plant grows, but none the less, a schedule you can keep. For houseplants it becomes even easier, because the environmental condtions never change, although, you still must take the time to identify the *plants* schedule(not yours!).
I found that trying to identify the "perfect" time to water...well....it's alot of work!! At the end of the day it's just too much, let's face it, we all have lives, jobs, kids...whatever. So for all of you out there that keep saying to yourself...bah! I wish I could just water these things on this day, or that day....you *CAN*. Just take the time to figure out an acceptable schedule for your plants and adapt it to your life, not the other way around.
I broke all my plants down by how many times per week they require watering - based on my skewer experiments of course - and knowing full well that sometimes modifications will need to be made. Here is an example of a schedule that I would base my rotation on:
1 per week Sun / Noon
2 per week Wed / PM Sun / Noon
3 per week Tue / PM Fri / AM Sun / Noon
4 per week Mon / PM Wed / PM Fri / AM Sun / Noon
Take it or leave it, that's my 2 cents.