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Interpreting the dowel

Posted by DaMonkey007 10b - Miami (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 4, 12 at 19:32

The dowel method is a relatively new concept for me, as I'm sure it is with some of you. I've always struggled with interpreting the results, meaning how wet/dry is the soil, really. I came up with a benchmark, so to speak, and I thought that it might be useful for others.

The problem is that by the time your using the dowel on a particular planting....theres a plant in the pot!! (Duh!) You can't go digging around in there to figure out what the dowel results actually mean. Tonight, I did a simple comparison test that really solidified for me how to interpret those results.

I had some extra 5-1-1 in a 5 gallon bucket, it had been sitting for a while and was quite dry. I lightly moistened this mix, very slowly over about a half hour, to a point that I would not want the deepest reaches of my plantings to go past, and inserted the dowel. At the same time, a dowel of the same size and composition was placed into a pot who's moisture level I wanted to check. After the same duration in the test and control mixes, a very accurate comparision can be made.

As I said, this really drove home what the level of moisture on the dowel actually means. Being able to compare how the soil looks and feels in your hands, to how the dowel feels on your face is invaluable. If you have not tried this, I highly recommend it....very enlightening!

PJ


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Interpreting the dowel

Great Post!! I have been looking for information on the dowel use. What size dowels do most people use in their pots?


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

Great job, PJ!

Tina, folks use a wide variety of dowels.
Some use actual wooden dowels, which I'm guessing would be in the 1/4 to 3/8 inch range.
Others use unfinished chop-sticks (which I've also done in the past). At the moment, however,
I am using slender shish-kabob skewers because they are super cheap and they don't disturb the mix/plant.


Josh


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

The dowel size I use is is exactly the same size as any finger on my hand . Although I don't have to rub my finger on other skin surfaces like my face to confirm/ensure the soil is moist or dry. The off damp coloring a wood dowel could of provided me will be a bit less noticeable to my eyes yet these same eyes are able to see a plants tell if it needs watering at that time or not.

If it's a different color you need to see to ensure you to add water. Lift and look at the bottom of a flat stone or rock that's placed on top of the soil if it's same color as the top/rest of the rock then chances are the plant needs watering. Down fall again neither dowel or stone can tell anyone how much water too add if any, another visual aide for watering or not to water would be foliage shape and coloring in short time watering should become second nature.

Also watering can vary for one person to another it depends on a few things. The plant as some do better in a dryer climate watering isn't as critical but other plants watering is more critical (Apples to oranges or lemons to olives) the zone a plant is growing in and it's seasonal climate it changes or no changes ( Arizona desert or Southern semi tropical Fla) inside growing or outside growing and daily weather conditions.


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

MrLike, maybe you've missed a critical piece of information.

The dowel method is a technique used to help new users of Gritty or 5-1-1 mixes to know when
to water. Most of us progress beyond using dowels as we become familiar with the mix and how
plants respond in the media.

If you don't use dowels, good for you. No reason to disparage those who are learning.


Josh


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

Thank you to all! I have small dowels and shish-kabob sticks at the house. I will use the one that absorbs moisture the best to test.

I transplanted a few things already but my largest pot with Citrus is in a 14 inch tall by 17 pot and I definitely cannot tell on that one. The others are cactus and succulents so I am not as worried about those.


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

MrLike, maybe you've missed a critical piece of information.

Critical piece of information? Well maybe your right or your kidding me!

When does sticking a dowel on ones face or any other body part containing skin do any better than the same skin on ones fingers ? Is something so wrong with a flat shaped stone that it wouldn't work ? If you have information that shows a stone wouldn't work as easily as a dowel I really need to see it so I can print it out and use as aide and inform others that they're on the wrong path with a stone on top of the soil idea. They too will say a bit more than how I must of missed a critical piece of information.

Think about it, nobody is going to be new at growing plants for a long time either, wouldn't it be better to offer some options now or later ? Idealistically Isn't it better to describe or show what a plant may look like to the reader as a better learning tool for there watering techniques ?

If I missed something critical then by all means critical can certainly be the better idea but that idea is to have some new gardener walking about with a thin piece of wood in hand pondering the idea of, do I grab the watering can or not when only a stick can tell them.

In closing and off topic, No I don't and no I'm not so you shouldn't either


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

MrLike, your message is incomprehensible.

Tina, you're quite welcome! Let us know how things go :-)


Josh


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

Heya folks!
I'm super happy that this idea helped you Tina! I also use long, thin skewers for testing. As Josh said they are super cheap, readily available, and slip easily down to the deepest part of the pot.

Hey Josh! Thanks for dropping in.....and sticking up for me while I was AFK...LOL!

Mrlike,
I think that the most important difference between using a skewer/dowel and your finger is that your fingers aren't 12" long....nor are they 1/8" thick....like the skewers that we use. You can't possibly know what's going on in the lower center of a 20 gallon pot by testing the surface. The surface alone will have a number of environmental conditions that affect the moisture level: how windy has it been, what kind of canopy does the plant have, do you use mulch, what kind, how thick, what time of day is it, was it foggy this morning, did it rain last night, how much....and so on. It's what happening in the deepest part of the pot, not the top, that will most greatly affect water and nutrient uptake.

Also, as Josh said, most people do move away from using the dowels after they get a feel for their soil. This is undoubtedly a measure of the intuition that they developed through the testing stage, and the knowlegde that they gained of thier particular plantings in thier particluar environment, not because they discovered some parlor trick like using a flat rock to tell when to water.

One other note about the skin on your fingers vs. the skin on your face or the back of your hands. It's all about sensitivity. For example, I cook all the time, therefore, I'm constantly touching hot food, plates, pans, etc. Both of my hands have become very desensitized to heat. I also fingerpick my guitar. I have calluses on every one of my fingertips, on both hands. See where I'm going with this. For many people, their fingers may not be the best place on thier body to notice slight variations in moisture levels on a peice of wood, hence the use of the cheek or the back of the hand.

Thanks for stopping in though!

PJ


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

DaMonkey007, I consider the probe as the most useful tool for determining soil moisture and some other conditions in the container. I prefer the manufactured
PROBE; although I have tried unsuccessfully to fashion one from a dowel rod. It is inserted and given a half turn. This traps some soil in the recesses and they remain in place as you pull the probe straight up. One can then determine the moisture adequacy by rubbing the sample between thumb and forefinger.
A hardwood walking stick used to be the "staff of office" of Plantation Overseers - long ago and far away. We'd push it down into (often) heavy clay soil and it is almost fascinating the amount of information an experienced Field Officer could gather.
The force needed to push it down the soil profile was an indication of soil tilth. The force needed to pull it out and the sound you heard as it came out, indicated the moisture content in the root zone. The color and feel of the soil particles clinging to the stick indicated the structure and texture.
Naturally, doing these were difficult before they were easy.


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

PJ, I loved your idea and hope to try it! Again, we're talking about a method of testing plants in containers, not in the ground, although I think ronalawn's information is really interesting! Sounds like an art and science worth learning, and I'd envy anyone who has the skills to use a probe of this type. But this is for 2 specific home-made soiless mixes. I used to stick my finger in the Miracle Gro and infer from the look of the plant and feel of the soil whether I should water. In my gritty mix, I use a wooden stick, needing to check deeper because there's actually no soil in it. The mix is 2/3 stone and 1/3 bark. I touch the stick it to my face because I have nerve damage and can't feel it well...


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

Don't feel bad if you have to use dowels as long as it takes!

I am still dependent on them for a few containers. I can never get it right at certain times. Thank goodness for this great idea.

Mike:-)


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

incomprehensible is me reading a simple idea of one way to do something response

A question was asked what size dowel is used and I (as in me) responded with the dowel size I used ( which is and remains as I don't use any size dowel ) but there are other devices and tools that can be used that I use.

I didn't disagree with a dowel being used but simply offer alternatives to those who can read and understand beyond the narrow one way to tell if a plant needs water box.


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I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and I'll concede that maybe you are trying to be helpful....
but no one here can tell. Your tips are couched in cryptic and strange expression.


Josh


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

Heya All!
Sorry for the delayed response, this weekend was a little crazy around the house. Anywho, I'm truly pleased that this topic has been so well received, and so many of you have dropped in!!

I would like to add one small idea to the original discussion. For some of you this may have been a logical step, and you may have gone ahead and experimented already, but for those who have not....

Over the weekend I also ran this experiment for a variety of different moisture levels, from the point of least moisture - as mentioned in the original post - all the way up to totally drenched. I used a stop watch to ensure that the submerged duration was equal across every test run. Again, the results were very useful and provided me with a much clearer picture of how to successfully interpret the dowel.

PJ


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

We may be overcomplicating things a bit. I used to use a sharpened chopstick, which was a great teacher. I now just stick a finger in, and if doesn't feel cool (damp), then I lift the pot for weight to determine if there's water near the bottom of the pot. This seems to work well. One thing I've noticed though, is that I have to let things dry out much more indoors then out. I think evaporative cooling in black pots in the sun requires more watering, and keeps roots from overheating. Indoors appears to be much more sensitive to overwatering.


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

It's not about complication, nor is this process something that anyone would need to do for any extended length of time. It will run it's course and yield the desired results in short order. I spent just a few hours experimenting and now have all the tools that I need to move forward making dowel based determinations of water requirements with a level of accuracy and understanding far greater than before. This process is about learning through a series of simple standardized experiments. It was very worthwhile to me, as I'm sure it will be for others, but if it's not for you there is no requirement for participation. Although, I do encourage any of you out there that feel like you may have something left to learn about your soil's moisture retention to give this a go!

PJ


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

PJ, wasn't trying to demean your experiment. This would be very useful in water retentive soils such as peat as they are very difficult to manage. 5-1-1 however is very forgiving and if you water somewhere in the ballpark, you'll do just fine.

Experiments are always fun though ;) I guess I don't want to see new growers (who tend to use these tools) think that watering is more difficult then it really is. But I guess to show them that you require much less water then you would think is not a bad thing.


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

I believe, I've read in Al's past post that bonsai apprentices spend the first year (or maybe even several years) of their apprenticeship doing nothing but watering. This would suggest that watering correctly is hard to get right or perhaps more rightly stated as, easy to get wrong. I believe anyone willing to undertake an experiment similar in nature to PJ's will give themselves a better chance at understanding what the perceived moisture level on the dowel means in terms of soil moisture and therefore a better chance at knowing when to water and viseversa, especially for beginners, like myself.

With time perhaps the seasoned container gardener may develop the ability to know when a plant needs water based on color and condition of leaves, perceived soil temperature, or some other indicator but for the beginner the dowel method is a valuable aid and I believe, a better understanding of what the dowel's moisture level means will help use this aid more effectively.

Good job PJ, and thanks for sharing your experiment and experiences.

Blake


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

Da monkey I can understand your concern of wanting to make sure that some moisture can reach the bottom of your container. If your soil is well draining you could of also water though.
There is nothing complicated about the laws of physics (gravity to be more specific) No doubt anyone can complicate it or can choose to complicate the understanding of the laws of motion

Granted some do need to use a dowel to provide them the confidence that this law still works in a container just as well as it works any other place on earth

You can praise anyone you want for repeating these theories and laws of nature for you to understand them better if you want but just because they repeat them doesn't make the theory theirs.

Due is some praise by me I wish to say thanks to those who told me that gravity and laws of motion still exist.


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

MrLikeU,
First of all, if you don't like this conversation, don't involve yourself in it. Second, don't patronize me sir, and don't presume to lecture me on Physics. I'm a educated Mechanical Engineer, and have forgotten more about Physics than you will ever know. Third, this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH GRAVITY!! I'm not concerned with getting water to the bottom of the pot....what are you even talking about?? This exercise is to measure the amount of water left AFTER a THOROUGH watering, of course there will be moisture at the bottom, that's not the point. The point is HOW LONG DOES IT STAY THERE??? Open your eyes and read a thread next time before you start throwing insults around, they are not well recieved on this forum. But by all means, keep it up, so you can be exiled and ignored like your twin brother MasterGardener1 - I'm confident that everyone who just read your post is ready and willing to do just that.

PJ


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

Easy guys. Let's keep it civil.

Peapod, it is hard to compare bonsai with regular container gardening, since in bonsai, plants are deliberately underpotted in an effort to dwarf a plant. Watering is definitely finickier in this situation. I would hope that new gardeners master normal container gardening first before attempting this advanced technique or they will be in for a lot of frustration.


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

And now onto something that that is hopefully more interesting. I am new to the soils discussed here, and I'm trying out Al's soils for the first time this year. For me the dowel idea will be very helpful. I feel this is something of a stupid question, but will ask it anyway. The most convenient thing for me would be to use a bamboo skewer as suggested above. Now, I have a variety of containers of different sizes with plant material of different maturity and also with different potting mixes, and so I will use the technique to monitor moisture in multiple container plantings, since seems unlikely that they'll all dry out according to the same timeline. I just tried this using the skewer and it came out fairly moist. All well and good. Then I went to check the next container when it dawned on me that the skewer is now damp and it will not be suitable for further use until it dries out, so I would have to use a new one. I warned you that this was a stupid question, but there it is - is there anything I'm missing here, or does one have to carry a pack of dowels (skewers), since once the first one becomes damp, you can't just dry it off with a rag the way you could with a metal rod?

BTW I think this thread is very helpful, and I have also found a lot of PJ's other threads and posts to be interesting and informative. Being a scientist I appreciate the empirical frame of reference that you bring to the table, as opposed to the unfounded assumptions that are often used to back up statements that some people espouse. The ideas and experience that you share in your threads are helpful indeed. BTW I took your advice and got myself one of the baskets from the Container store, and I find that what with being able to shake it, it's a real time-saver compared to a simple window screen I was using previously, which required much more care to avoid spilling the materials over the edge. Thanks again, your contributions are much appreciated.

Alex


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clarification

Sorry, I just noticed another message was posted while I was typing. Just wanted to say that my introductory "onto something more interesting" did not refer to the preceding post, but rather to the discussion of mr like. I will however admit that it is tempting to speculate about whether he and Mr Gardener #1 are really one and the same.


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

LOL, no offense taken. I originally used a sanded and sharpened chopstick until I got more familiar. I was able to wipe it off with a shop towel and be able to read the next pot. But I did find that there is a wide range of tolerance in 5-1-1 compared to peat based soils, so don't sweat it too much. If it's dry, water it, if it's damp leave it. Soil sticking to it is actually easier to read then then dampness. That's what I found was the best gauge.


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

I guess "soil sticking to it" is the wrong term, as it's a soil less mix, but you get my drift. From pot to pot, soil will stick whether it's damp from the previous pot or not if you wipe the stick first. This is one reason it was a good gauge.


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

  • Posted by rina_ 6a Ont (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 12, 12 at 11:12

Alex

I actually have few skewers I am using (just because I already had big bunch of them & not making shish kabob anymore!). I just leave them around group of plants. It still helps to check the dampness. I usually just wipe them off anyway & reuse in another pot if it came out dry.
(Mind you, some adviced not to reuse in order to avoid spreading potential desease?...) Since they are so skinny, they get into the soil really easy.

Rina


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Luckily, soil based disease in soil less mix (one of the advantages of soil less mix) is not very common.


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Thanks Capoman and Rina for your suggestions.

'Nother newbie question though, Capoman, does the soil stick to the dowel when it's wet or when it's dry?


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It's sticks when the soil less mix is wet. When it's dry, stick comes out moisture and particle free... time to water.


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

Alex,
Thank you very much for the kind words, they are truly appreciated and I am most grateful!

:)

As for the skewers, I use as many as I need to accomodate the number of pots that I am checking at any given time. This is because I try to keep my skewers in the soil for the same duration on every pot, and using a multitude of skewers simultainiously is the most efficient way to accomplish this. I use a little kitchen timer set to 5 minutes - I sink in all my skewers, hit the timer, and go about my business for those 5 mins. I'll pick a few cherry tomatoes with my daughter, snip some fresh basil to munch on, look around for any pesky critters lurking on my peppers, whatever. When the timer goes off, I'll check each skewer in the order it was set. I do this for a few reasons. One is simply consistency. If one day I check a skewer that has been in the pot for 2 minutes, then the next day I check the same pot after 20 minutes, the 2 percieved moisture readings, namely of the latter, may be inconsistant with the actual soil conditions, specifically if you are not aware that the duration was heavily skewed. For me, it's very easy to lose track of time out there, especially if we're talking about just a few minutes one way or the other. The timer helps with that. Simple consistency. The other reason is that it allows you to make accurate comparisons between similar plantings, and even help you with 'scheduling' your next watering. For example, if you had 5 similar tomatoes in a row, in similar pots, and test all 5 at the same time, for the same duration, you can extrapolate much more from the results through side by side comparison, i.e. 'I'll check this one again on Wednesday, I'll water these three now, and this one tomorrow morning...'. If you checked them separately, the individual results may be the same, but you lose the added bonus of a comparative analysis.

That being said, I fully understand that if any moisture is present, I can simply wait until the skewer is found to be dry - then water. I personally choose to approach it in a more structured manner, but I encourage everyone out there who is still getting aquainted with their soil to try both methods - or create your own - and see what feels the best for you.

I have found great success with using the technique above in conjuntion with my homemade 'water dials'. It cuts down the actual testing process drastically, as you do not have to try to remember what you did and when you did it, which inevitably results in you having to check everything, everyday. My method allows me to set up a schedule - if not for watering, then at least for testing the soil. For example: If the dial for my Jalepenos says Tuesday, I know that I'll check the soil again on Friday...etc.

By the way Capo, that's very good information regarding the soil sticking to the skewer, and ensuring that each is wiped clean prior to insertion. I will incorporate that idea into my process, thanks!

PJ

Here is a link that might be useful: Water Dial


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

OMG. My wife says I'm the most analytical person on the planet... I think you got me beat PJ, can I introduce you to her? LOL.

To be honest, I probably started out not doing much different then you are doing now. But after awhile, I realized that watering is not near as finicky in 5-1-1 as in peat based soils. Even when leaving pots out in a torrent of rain, the drainage of the soil got rid of the excess, and I have yet to see a sign of overwatering on an outdoor pot using 5-1-1. That's why I opted for simpler methods, and concentrated on the harder stuff such as fertilization and pH.


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I am analytical to a fault Capo...it is true. By all means show her my thread if it will get you off the hook!! LOL!!

One thing to note about this conversation: You state, "That's why I opted for simpler methods, and concentrated on the harder stuff such as fertilization and pH.". I may have not mentioned this on this thread, but I fertigate (with ph correction, i.e. distilled vinegar)everything that I grow in pots - every time that I water....every time - at diluted concentrations consistant with the water requirements of the plant, of course. For example: Plants that I water everyday get 1/8 strength dose of fertilizer - everyday, 2 day cycles get 1/4 strength, 3-4 day cycles get 1/2 strength, 5+ day cycles get full strength. Because of this watering and fertilizing and ph are hopelessly intertwined, so it is extremely important to me to be very accurate with the application of my fertigation solution. With the constant feeding method, to be nonchelant with your watering is to be nonchelant with your fertilization as well. This may have been a point that I should have divulged at the beginning of the thread...LOL!

Anywho, what I'm doing here makes me happy, and it is undoubtably making me a better gardener with a better understanding of each and every one of my containerized plantings. This is just how I learn, as I would assume some of you out there do as well. I'm just glad that this topic has sparked a conversation, and has stayed floating around the top of the page for a few days. If my methods work for me, great, if they work for even one other person out there as well....even better.

PJ


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RE: Interpreting the dowel

Actually, I was going to ask you if you had any fertilization experiments planned, LOL.

Although I am analytical with something at first, my goal is usually to find the simplest and lowest maintenance way of doing something that still gets optimal results, as the end goal. I start out complicated, then simplify as my knowledge grows once I get my answers.

I also came to the same conclusion as you on fertilizing. It is much simpler to fertigate and allow your watering frequency to dictate the amount of nutrients, and also avoid burn. I got tired of the "fertilize every third watering" method as I got tired of tracking watering each plant, as they all seem to have different schedules. The beauty of fertigation is that you don't have to track anything, and is still an optimal method of fertilizing.


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I should mention that I was into hydroponic (and soil gardening before that) before I got into containers. Soil less is really not much different then hydroponic, so fertigation seemed natural to me rather then what seemed to me to overdose then starve starve. But I am also not afraid of wet roots as long as they get enough oxygen... the beauty of 5-1-1, and hence the fact that watering in 5-1-1 is not really that picky, and neither is the amount you fertigate with.


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PJ

You and I have a lot in common when it comes with our plants. I like you! I wish you could care for mine so I could take more than a few days vacation.

Thanks for this thread. Your plants must be very healthy like miine. The 'vinegar' is a key to great success by the way along with the dowels and great open mixes.

Mike


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Wouldn't it be great if we could look after each other's plants during vacation? This is the downside of having a large garden. I still haven't got anyone I can trust to do this....


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Heya Guys!

Capo,
What you say about going from complicated to simple as your knowledge grows is very wise. I couldn't agree with you more. For me, the real key to moving forward is to understanding what I've done, what I'm doing, why, how it affects my plants, why it works, why it doesn't, and how I can make it better. I'm particularly found of the last part - how I can make it better - I guess it's the engineer in me. I tried the fertilize/water/water/water/fertilize routine as well. One day I found myself in my garden with a clipboard and excel spreadsheets to keep track of it all and thought...."What the heck am I doing out here?!?!? There's got to be a better way!!!!" LOL!!! Constant fertigation just makes more sense to me. Now it's just about dialing it in.

Mike!!
What's up my man?!? I have to tell you, for someone as respected as you to say that you and I are alike is a wonderful compliment indeed!! Ditto on the plant care too! I wouldn't trust just anyone with my plants, it sure would be nice to have knowledgable friends like you guys, or even just a few that were willing..lol..to jump in when you need them. I mean, I certainly can't trust my wife out there...lol...she can't even keep a lucky bamboo alive!

Talk soon! Have a great weekend!

PJ


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Sorry to take this a little off topic, but I was wondering if you guys could speak to your fertilization program more specifically. Do you use Dyna-Grow FP & vinegar? Any thing else or is there any additional fine-tuning? Do you add a given amt. of vinegar or do you add until you reach a specific pH? I'm making my way through the Fertilizer thread, but was wondering how you do it (since you brought it up... ;^) )

Thanks,
Alex


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Alex,

I use Dyna Gro, and vinegar. However, I only use the vinegar because our water is fairly alkaline. I only use it when i find that my soil pH is climbing because of the alkalinity in the water. when I climbs, I will add 1 tsp. of vinegar /gal. water for a few feedings and test my soil again. This seems to work for me. Last season I only had to add the vinegar a few times throughout the season. Josh (Greenman) really helped me out with this last year.

I am using pro-tekt this year because I have heard it helps make cell walls thicker which I am hoping will help with sucking insects. Maybe Al has some thoughts on pro-tekt. But, other than that I am using nothing else to feed the plants, as the FP has all the micro nutrients needed as far as I know.

JON


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What a great Thread, PJ!

I'm very happy with the direction it's taken, and the various perspectives presented.
A hello to all participating, Jon, Rina, Capo, Alex, Mike, and anyone that I've inadvertently missed.

Alex, finding the amount of vinegar to use tailors very well with PJ's moisture experimentation.
What I mean is that you do a bit of experimentation up front, and then you can relax later on :-)

Start by determining the pH of your water. Then, begin adding white vinegar to a known quantity
of water until the pH is somewhere around 5.5 - 5.8 or so. Record the amount of vinegar required
to lower the pH. Then, simply add that amount of vinegar to your quantity of water (say, a gallon)
every time you water and fertilize (fertigate).

This year, I, too, have added Pro-TeKt to my fertilization regimen, but only for about the last month.
I'm looking forward to the results later this season, particularly with my pepper plants.


Josh


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Hey Josh!
Thanks for the support! I always look forward to finding out what your thoughts are, no matter the topic. It's like Obi Wan popping in to Jedi training! LOL! I love a good pop in!

OK...sorry, enough Star Wars and Seinfeld metaphors...I digress...

I thought that this would be a good point to clarify why vinegar is used - for any readers out there that are hearing it for the first time, or who may have heard it before but are still wondering why.

Vinegar serves 2 purposes: PH and Alkalinity correction of your tap water. As Josh said, you want your fertigation solution to have a PH somewhere in the mid 5's. The reason for this is that nutrient uptake is directly related to the PH of the soil solution. This particular range happens to be a sweet spot for plants, so to speak, where all nutrients can be taken up very effectively. The other reason, as mentioned above, is to neutralize the alkalinty. This plays more to what Jon was talking about - as over time, alkalinity will drive up the soil PH to undesirable levels.

That being said, Jon, what is your tap water's PH? It seems that if you are only occasionally using vinegar to correct high soil PH, you may be missing out on the benefits of consistantly correcting your fertigation solution PH to maximize nutrient delivery.

PJ


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