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Post  darjeff on 7/18/2012, 6:38 pm

I attended Mel's presentation in Florida last winter and have been "pushing" the idea to our Master Gardener group. Someone said that a friend told her that the mixture dries out quickly. I have not tried the mixture as I'm in NW PA and relocating to FL in a couple months so not doing much gardening this summer. Has anyone experienced this drying out fast problem? And, how often would one normally have to water the garden? We are in NW Pennsylvania.

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Post  camprn on 7/18/2012, 7:03 pm

Drying out could be a problem for those in the south or where winds blow incessantly. Mulch can reduce moisture loss.


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Post  rowena___. on 7/18/2012, 7:18 pm

as with everything in nature, much depends on the climate of the area as well as the local weather conditions. a few weeks ago, when we were having a long triple-digit heat wave, i was watering twice a day and filling the water bottle drip units daily as well. but even during normal summer weather i prefer to water daily, not because the mix dries quickly but because i want my food-producing plants to have consistent moisture levels available. you don't have to do that, and there are plenty of people who believe that making the plants wait a while between waterings toughens them up and teaches them to make a bigger root system. experimentation and close observation of results makes one an expert in one's own garden.

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Post  walshevak on 7/18/2012, 11:46 pm

Even before I left, I was watering both the veggie tabletops and the inground flower beds every day. Well established perennels were struggling. High temps and drying winds. Tabletops needed morning and evening, but tabletops have no other source and the plants can't dive for the water table.

I think everything is crazy this year. Last year I set the timer on the veggies for 2x a day and just left the flower beds. Annuals died but the perennels survived.

This year I set the timers on the veggies and a neighbor is checking on all and will water the flowers. As long as the perennels live I'm happy.



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Post  elliephant on 7/19/2012, 9:34 am

I water every morning with drip irrigation, but where I live our temps are around 97/77 for about 5 months in a row and rain is a rarity.

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Post  moldeen85 on 7/19/2012, 9:59 am

My neighbor has her sprinkler on a timer to run EVERY morning for an hour or so. And some of hers are dry to the point where... a handfull of her Mel's mix will blow away like sand in the wind if you pick it up. Shocked

We're in upstate NY. Granted it has been hotter than hell (literally) the last few days, but that is pretty extreme as we still have a ton of moisture and humidty in the air. Rolling Eyes Most of mine are more moist than hers, but they almost always feel dry to the touch, even after two or more hours with the sprinkler on. What a Face

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Post  RUTBUSTER on 7/19/2012, 10:23 am

This is my first year using Mels Mix and I am having the same problem. Everything is growing well but always seems to be dry. Even when I water more the next day it is the same. The only problem that I have had is BER on some of my tomatoes, Earwigs eating my turnips , and cabbage loopers eating my brussel sprouts. I guess other than that life is good.

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Post  CharlesB on 7/19/2012, 10:58 am

I am in Eastern PA and some gardeners here say the same.

I have two 4 x 4 ft. beds in my backyard. One is straight Mel's Mix one is my mix. My mix is soil, compost, manure and covered with 2 inches of straw. I do not have to water my mix as much and the plants seem to have handled this heat and drought better.

That being said there are a few things that need to happen in SFG to keep the Mel's Mix garden going as it should. You are growing intensively with it. Meaning the spacing of your plants should be such that the sun is not hitting the soil directly except for when the plants are small. Grown plants should be just bumping in to each other and shading the ground. So if you don't have the plantings that way you are going to be baking your mix in the sun. It should be shaded by the plants.

We have serious clay in this part of PA, so you can just about pour water on it and make a permanent lake. It helps with water retention but is also very hard for the plants to work their roots through it. Also if you get a very wet year you get problems with the roots rotting and various diseases if the drainage is poor.

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Post  Unmutual on 7/19/2012, 12:16 pm

First of all, welcome fellow Master Gardener!


@camprn wrote:Drying out could be a problem for those in the south or where winds blow incessantly. Mulch can reduce moisture loss.

I'm not sure about Florida, but in Louisiana we always stick with the idea of mulching about 3" thick to prevent evaporation. However, drip irrigation seems to work rather well to keep the soil below the first inch rather moist even in the hottest and driest times.

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Post  jfkelly001 on 7/19/2012, 5:51 pm

I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma zone 6 we have been running in the over a 100 for a while now (it is now 430pm and is 106). At midnight it is still 85-90 lately. I have been trying everything to keep my MM moist without much luck. I have 14 4 x 4 x 6 in deep homemade vinyl beds. I started 4 days ago of using 5 gal buckets to water. I fill the buckets and dump 4 buckets per 4x4, that is 25 gal at a time per 4x4. The MM has settled over time and so it has room to flood and stay on top as in soaks down. I do this once in the morning and once in the evening. ( I am retired so time is no problem). Things are staying green so far and growing (melons and sweet potatoes) other plants are staying green, but to hot to produce.

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Post  RoOsTeR on 7/19/2012, 7:12 pm

I'm about the same jfkelly001. I'm giving my gardens a really good soaking every morning and here lately I've been watering some of my seedlings and smaller plants again in the evenings. I have found a few degrees and the wind make a huge difference for me and my watering schedule. If we stay in the upper 80's or very, very low 90's I can generally skip a day. But once we creep into that mid 90 range and above, I'm watering daily. Cool


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