On the Act (Art of Watering)

nathanamJuly 10, 2013

Greetings and Salutations!

I am new to the forum (first post!) and also relatively new to container gardening (and plants in general). IâÂÂve actually spent the last few months on the forum reading different articles prior to joining up and have to say I have learned a ton from AlâÂÂs posts on Water Movement and Container Soils along with the followups from other forum regulars. So before I ask my questions, I want to thank Al and company for their patience, generosity, and commitment to sharing their knowledge, especially with beginners like me!

I feel like IâÂÂve started to get a handle on the science of container soils and watering from my reading, but I want to check my understanding of one concept briefly first. When watering, I understand that you should water thoroughly (until water comes out of the drainage hole) when the plant needs it rather than watering the first few inches more regularly. The former flushes salts from the soil and ensures that it is fully and evenly wetted, whereas the latter tends to lead to overwatering and stunts root growth because there is no deep water to attract them. Am I on the right track here?

HereâÂÂs my first question: With all of the water coming through the drainage holes, you would obviously overflow the drip trays so what is the best technique to thoroughly water your plants? (IâÂÂve been taking mine over to the kitchen sink and letting the excess go down the drain, but was curious about other possibilities especially since IâÂÂve read that plants donâÂÂt really like being moved.)

On a different but somewhat related note, I want to start using the 1:1:1 soil mix and have tracked down local ingredients. So, my second question: Do you need to pre-moisturize the mix before transplanting into it to âÂÂactivateâ the soil? (Off topic: What is the best way to go about sifting--I remember Al commenting on using the wind instead of rinsing with water, I think, but am not sure how that would work? IâÂÂve made a screen following tcleighâÂÂs how-to which is fantastically helpful!)

On a related note to the related note, my third question: Do you need to pre-soak clay planters before using? (My wife likes to cook in a clay pot and I know you have to soak it for 10 minutes before putting it in the oven to absorb some moistureâ¦didnâÂÂt know if that applied to plants as well--not the putting in the oven part!)

Like I said, I feel like IâÂÂm starting to get a handle on the âÂÂscienceâ behind watering, but could do with a few tips on the âÂÂartâ and techniques of how to water. Many thanks to all for your thoughts and feedback!


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Drat! I typed up the post in Word so that I could proofread and spell check and then I managed a typo in the title--I meant "On the Act (Art) of Watering"...darned parentheses. Ah well, chalk it up to first time posting jitters!

My apologies for the typo and many thanks once again for everyone's follow-ups and feedback!


    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 9:30AM
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Using the gritty mix, a have found it works best if I submerge the container in a tub of water overnight to allow the bark and Turface to completely hydrate before planting in it. Al

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 9:55AM
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Thanks for the tip Al.

For those who are interested or have the same questions, I did some more digging on the forum and found a couple of very useful related threads that I had overlooked and wanted to included links:

Question re: watering Al's gritty mix - Take a look at the 4th followup post from Laura (loveplants2) which good commentary on how to water and deal with drainage.
Gritty Mix + Citrus Plants + Foilage Pro - Questions - Jodi's (jodik) followup, the second I think, gives a good overview on premoisturizing like Al (calistoga) pointed out to me in his post above.
And of course for other beginner's like me, Al's post here--Good Growing Practices - An Overview for beginners--is an indisposable resource and very informative, interesting, and helpful as always.

I think the combination of those three links answers the three questions I posed originally in this thread about the techniques for watering so hopefully anyone with similar questions will be able to find the information they need!


    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 2:22PM
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