Reading the dowel--perched water table

marc5(6aOH)May 1, 2013

I am new to 5-1-1 and "reading" the dowel to determine when to water. I have hundreds of trees newly potted in 1-gallon containers, so I am obviously very concerned about getting this right. When using the dowel method (I'm using a bamboo skewer), the bottom half or third of the container is damp, but the upper area is dry. The surface of the 5-1-1 looks very dry. Is this evidence of a perched water table? I thought that 5-1-1 was supposed to prevent that. Since my newly-potted trees have roots extending to only a shallow depth, I will interpret this as a time to water. However, could someone explain how the dowel and the perched water table are related?

Thanks,
Marc

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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

If the mix drains well enough there will be very little perched water. If there is a little perched water and the rest of the medium is dry, I would probably have to water. If you made the 511 correctly there is probably no perched water, or very little anyway. If you have shallow roots that's probably why the top is drying out faster. That's the beauty of the 511.......almost no chance of overwatering. When in doubt water.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 1:35PM
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queensinfo

i find i sometimes have to water more often than i would think based on the wetness of the dowel. i noticed that a newer plant was starting to wilt a little, which was a good clue. It is a newer plant in a big pot so i think the roots aren't yet at the bottom layer that is more damp. The top tends to dry out quick when they are out in the sun.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 10:45AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The 5-1-1 is designed to hold some moisture - so, yes, there will be some perched water. With recent transplants, you do need to water more often while the roots re-establish themselves. As the mix ages, it will dry more uniformly from top to bottom.

Josh

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 7:21PM
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