container water questions for fruitnut or other.

lsohMarch 2, 2014

I'm currently growing blackberries, blueberries, cherries, and plums in 14 gallon rubber maid containers.

1) How much water do you estimate that you use on your container fruits? (I know people suggest watering to water drains out. But mine are on garden soil and I can't see the water draining under my containers.)

2) My potted fruit seem to demand a lot of water. I just saw a video on "dutch buckets". They used 100% perlite. But there was one single drain hole on the SIDE of the bucket so that some water always remained. I would continue to use my well draining organic mix. However, I've been toying with the idea of putting the container's drain holes on the sides, NOT the bottom, to keep a little moisture in the bottom. Seems like that's going the wrong direction given all the emphasis on "perched water tables". On the other hand, my plants seem to be thirsty. What are your thoughts?

3) There's been a couple of threads about growing strawberries in rain gutters. Seems like a good idea for saving space. But I grew strawberries in containers and they were the most demanding of water of everything that I've grown in pots (well, except tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets.) I've been thinking of trying the rain gutters, but putting drain holes on the sides, not the bottom. What are your thoughts?

Seems to me the potential down sides are
a) root rot, b) water logged flavorless fruit.
potential up sides are
a) less demands on my time to water.
b) healthier plants if the roots don't rot.

Please let me know what you think.

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I'd keep the best drainage possible. Increasing the perched water is nothing but trouble. However you might consider self watering containers that basically harness a perched water table for good use. Also how about drip on a timer? How about putting a shallow saucer under current to at least see when water runs through. I've thought about harvesting the drainage water for reuse if the issue is water shortage.

A perched water table will result in water logged soil and reduced rooting volume neither good.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 2:06PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I've had similar problems with tomatoes, peppers etc. I plan to add compost, and wicks. Compost holds moisture well. I'll also be using a higher percentage of coir or peat. Using soilless mixes is just not working for me. Works well with my cactus but otherwise, no.
I'm using parachute cord to wick water into pots from the bottom. I'm not sure how well this will work? Trying it on a limited trial to see. Well will be trying it. The 4 inches of snow last night is depressing. Certainly not anytime soon.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 2:30PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I did some research today and man it looks like Calcined Diatomaceous Earth is an awesome amendment that will increase water retention. Use it instead of perlite, pumice etc. On another forum they used it for seed starting and it worked super well. You can get it as Ultrasorb the oil absorbant soil at auto stores.
Check these links
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0341816212001841

http://www.pakbs.org/pjbot/PDFs/43(1)/PJB43(1)573.pdf

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0341816211001615

http://scihub.org/ABJNA/PDF/2010/5/ABJNA-1-5-1076-1089.pdf

http://www.axisplayball.com/home_htm_files/AXIS%20for%20POTTING%20SOIL.pdf

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 5:49PM
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Bradybb(wa8)

Most large black nursery pots that I've seen and use have holes on the sides,near the bottom.If I had your setup Isoh,that's where they'd be and it still can be done.That way,there is no doubt when water reaches that area. Brady

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 6:12PM
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lsoh

fruitnut,

Thanks.

We don't have a water shortage. I'm trying to find a way to decrease the burden I put on the neighbor who waters for me when I'm gone. While I don't know anything about a drip system, I'm considering trying that for some of my pots. However, the pots I'd most like to use a drip system for wouldn't have access to a water spigot. I'd consider using a rain barrel. Even If I had to top it off with a hose before I left, it might decrease the neighbor's work. But because I have no idea how much water my pots consume, I don't know if 50 gallons would go very far or not. (I can't run an experiment at this time. It's only 10 degrees out.) Do you have any idea how much water a potted blackberry, blueberry, or cherry might require on a daily basis?

Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 10:25PM
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lsoh

bradybb,

Thanks. That's an interesting idea. To be honest, I was considering putting drain holes a little further up to create a water reservoir. I will follow fruitnut's advice and pass on the simple reservoir concept (might consider self watering containers). But your idea of putting drain holes on the sides at the very bottom to see water drainage seems promising.

Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 10:31PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

In my experience I watered my pots heavily with about 2.5 gallons. My pots though were large like over 20 inches in diameter. Since DE holds more water than anything else, I was hoping that with some Soil Moist too, would help them retain water better.
For me none of these watering systems is practical. I will have over 20 pots with peppers, tomatoes, tropical trees, blueberries, cucumbers, cacti, Jasmine, and whatever I might add. In front and back, and all over!
Good luck, and if you find a good way, let us know how it works.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 10:53PM
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