5-1-1- watering questions

queensinfoApril 12, 2012

To go along with all the dowel discussions, I think i have an issue with my 5-1-1 mix (my first batch) and watering. When watering, as the water is soaking in, it also loosens up the top layer of soil and acually almost spills over the top of the pot (making a soupy soil mix on top). There is about 3 inches of room on some of the pots. Is that a symptom that my mix is too fine? It drains out of the bottom within 30 seconds maybe 20.

I probably should have cut back the peat fraction even more, however for some of the pots, i had been screening through alumimum before giving up screening the bark (based on recommendations here).

Also, i did not cover the screen holes in a few plastic windowboxes and the bark keeps blocking up the holes. Should i use drywall tape over the bottom to try and hold it in. When watering these, i loosened up the plants before i realized that the whole planter was full and soil was spilling over.

Yes, i was watering with a hose to save time.

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Usually you get perlite floating to the top as it's lighter then water. Just water more slowly. It doesn't hurt anything and will settle back down when it drains. Fast draining out the bottom is normal and is a "feature" of 5-1-1, the reason it aerates so well, and avoids salt buildup. Just water fast enough to fill the space without overflowing, and only have about 20% of pot volume come out of the bottom. Any more and you are essentially flushing your plant.

5-1-1 is totally different then peat based soil, and requires some changes in habits. Once you see how plants grow in it, you won't go back.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 4:27PM
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Don't worry about bark blocking the holes. I don't use screen, and even when bark is there, as long as it drains freely it's ok. I would only screen the holes if they were extremely large. My pots have up to 1" holes in them, and I lose very little bark once it settles in.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 4:31PM
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I actually was worried it wasnt draining fast enough. Seems like it should go through quicker. The problem is that everytime i water at least one of the 4 window boxes doesn't drain until i poke my finger in the hole in the bottom.

Also, a lot of the floating soil looks pretty dry. I am really soaking the plants because i have only watered maybe 3 times and want to make sure the peat is getting saturated.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 4:53PM
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The problem is that dry pine bark is hydrophobic, in that it repels water. When you apply water to the top, the dry bark repels the water, and basically is making the water float atop the soil. It will eventually settle in, but make sure you check that the middle is watered. I had problems last summer with the top of the soil looking good and wet, only to find out that an inch deep, it was bone dry. I either let it sit, and reapplied the water from the tray when the bark soaked up a bit of water, or I plugged the drain holes and let the pot sit there, filled with water, then drained it out after an hour or two.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 5:33PM
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