What can I use?

barb_roselover_inAugust 1, 2011

I have several vegetables in large containers--in fact several of the plantings are petering out and will need to be replanted. We have had sixteen days of upper nineties. When I watered tonight, I noticed that the water seemed to be going right through the container without taking time to sufficiently water the plant. I noted that earlier and had put a half-gallon milk jug on top of the soil with a couple of tiny holes in it so that it would release the water very slowly. Obviously, my potting soil did not contain enough of the moisture elements to do the job. What can I add and how to take care of this problem? In the past, I added the water crystals but they ended up making a jellied mess. Help! Thanks for the help Barb

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

What is your potting mix made of? When you ask what you can add, are you talking about adding something to your existing plantings or to the potting mix you plan to use in the future? The only thing that might help existing plantings would be a couple inches of mulch, maybe pine bark fines or compost.

I am in southwest Ohio with weather that's probably similar to yours. I am watering deeply every other day, using a hose at the base of the plant for about five full minutes per pot. I have mostly 20 and 25 gallon smart pots with two or three plants in each of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, broccoli, and okra. In the smart pots I'm using a modified version of Al's 5-1-1 mix with 5 parts pine bark fines, and 1 part each compost, peat and Turface. In a few wood or plastic pots, I'm using standard 5-1-1 with no compost, but with turface replacing the perlite. I'm really pleased with the addition of turface because it seems to soak up the water and release it slowly without getting soggy or caking when it's dry.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 10:25PM
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Ohiofern - thanks for answering. It is really difficult getting your questions answered this particular time of the year. I don't know whether people don't have time or it's the weather. Anyway, I mean both--adding to what I have and preparing new container plantings. I have to rely upon the regular potting soil with moisture control and fertilizer mixed in. Because I had surgery earlier in the summer, my kids started the containers for me because I have been very limited in my activities.. I don't know anything about turface and stuff like that. It is too complicated for what I want.Would the addition of vermiculite or peat help? The water just runs straight through. Thank you so much for your comments. - Barb

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 10:59PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Well, I'm not an expert, but based on experience, I would choose peat over vermiculite. The problem is that it needs to be mixed into your potting soil to work, and most vegetables have pretty shallow roots. You can't really dig more than an inch or so into the soil. If you have some extra soil mix of what is in the pots, you could mix it 50/50 with peat and use that as a mulch. Add as much to the pot as you can while still leaving an inch between the soil surface and the plant rim so there's room to water. You'll need to have it wet when you add it to the pot and never let it get dry. It won't do a whole lot to help, but you might save some plants that might otherwise die. Then when you water, be sure to do it thoroughly. Water should drain out the bottom of the pot.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 12:21AM
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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

can you mulch the containers ,this will slow evaporation down ..when soil gets dried out it can become tough to get it wet again the dripping milk jug is a good idea
When you water don't be afraid to let the water run full for at least 3 minutes ,I run the water wide open until the container gets full of water then i let it soak down then i repeat,add your water soluble fertilizer after you water
how large are your containers ?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 2:30AM
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Has anyone had any problems with growing plants in whiskey barrel liners--the plastic liners? I have impatiens and nasturtiums in miracle gro potting soil in these liners. The soil seems to stay too wet. Do these liners need drainage holes, or is the problem with the type of potting soil I'm using? The plants have not grown much in the two months I've had them planted. Our summer has been very warm and humid for WI.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 6:02AM
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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

dbender try starting a new post with your question as the subject

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 7:42AM
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