(Watering) There has to be a better way...

jutsFL(9b (Orlando))April 15, 2014

If you're using containers, I'd really be interested in how you maintain your watering routine.

At first it wasn't a problem for me when the peppers were small, but now that they've grown - even the 5gal buckets are getting dry within a few days. As the days get warmer, I am well aware that this will become worse.

As of now I mix up 6 quarts for each bucket (w fert, cal, mag, and every so often BT), and water all plants individually. This has become quite the undertaking as of lately though. It started as once every 2 weeks, then down to once a week, and now they need water every 4 days or so. I've cut down drastically on all the amendments to the waterings - as for the added frequency. Pretty soon I can see these things needing water nearly every day though with their size (in combination with the heat).

Adding plain hose water isn't really the problem, it's the time consuming part of concocting the perfect cocktail for them. I've pondered the idea of the hose feeding system (ie MG feeder ) but worried of inconsistencies.

Really just wondering how y'all go about the task, I could sure use some new ideas.


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judo_and_peppers(Tampa FL)

fellow floridian here.

I notice my plants wilt a lot during the day. if I used that as my guage I'd be watering every day. if they're still wilted when the sun goes down I water.

I got a hose attachment at lowes that I use to give a weak feeding with every watering. I mix my MG all purpose and my witches brew in there ahead of time. I could probably make the mix in the can much stronger and have it last longer, but the easier way to avoid inconsistency in the mixer seems to be to put it at a higher setting. I end up having to remake it every other watering (I have 50+ plants, 15 of which are in 5 gal buckets) but that's better than mixing and filling up 3-5 watering cans each time you wanna give them a half dose feeding.

I'm still kind of a noob (2nd year) but I'm a fellow florida grower so I figured I'd weigh in.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:52AM
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I've grown a few peppers in containers, but mostly bougainvillea, hibiscus, basil, tomatoes, and others, and I find that a drip system used in conjunction with time release fertilizer works very well.
Get an Orbit hose-end drip timer and a brass vacuum breaker, a roll of 1/2" DIG tubing, a roll of 1/4" tubing, a punch, some plastic stakes, and some 1-10 gallon adjustable emitters.
The Orbit timer may be set for any manner of duration and frequency of watering. Adjust the emitters so that water appears under the bucket after about five minutes.
We have about 70+ pots of plants from 15 gallon, to small hanging baskets, along with a lot of stuff in the ground. I run seven discreet systems to take care of all of these.
Time release fertilizer such as Osmocote or Miracle Grow work well, although we use Nutri-Star products for others too.
DIG makes a bunch of emitters that have different spray patterns too. You want one that'll cover the surface area of the pot so as to feed the plant every time it waters, at a measured rate. Keep the bottom leaves away from the spray pattern too.
This'll save you a LOT of work...

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 6:33AM
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I use a drip system. Lowes or Home Depot sells a starter kit that gives you everything you need for about $40 if you don't want to piece it together yourself. Has the timer, fittings stakes, drip emitters etc.
I went all summer last year and did not touch my containers, just set the timer and frequency up or down as needed. Last year was my first time growing stuff and it was still very easy to set up.

I will look up the name of the kit when I get to work

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:13AM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

Thanks for the input, for some reason I just assumed the hose attachments wouldn't be reliable (not sure why I thought this) - good to know that they work out well though.
And as far as a drip system, I really had no clue that they could be that affordable. 40 bucks is far less than I had imagined. I may start w the hose attachment while I look into the different drip systems.
Thanks for the help!


    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 1:03PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Hose plus shower-head wand plus 10 minutes (longer if you like chatting with your babies). Repeat every other day or so.

Added ingredient: Knowing how much water each plant wants. That comes in time.

This post was edited by DMForcier on Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 12:37

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:36PM
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Stay away from any touch membrane timers like Melnor or Raindrip makes. They only last one summer in the hot sun. The Orbit timers have lasted me for three years until they croak. If you want to be more "hands-on," you can use a manual clockwork timer that you set once a day. Low tech, but reliable.
Don't forget the vacuum breaker. It'll keep water out of your house system if your water utility has a leak and has to be shut off. Forget the plastic ones. Get a $6 brass one. Don't buy the pressure compensator either. Just regulate the pressure with your spigot setting. Less to go wrong...

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 5:39PM
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I picked up a Gilmour Pro Hose End Sprayer a couple years ago at ACE for about $20......It mixes and sprays from a concentrated solution.....No mixing required

I originially bought it to foliar spray Serenade..... the organic fungicide I spray on my tomatos....any "mixed" fungicide quickly goes bad so this Gilmour offered a mix-as-you-go solution....no waste

I found it convienent to also apply my liquid fertilizer concentrate (DynaGro)......I removed the small deflector and press-fit a length of clear vinyl tubing....add a watering rose to the tubing to soften the flow....now I can FertiGate right at the base of the plants....One plant or 100 all from the same jug


Here is a link that might be useful: GilmourProHoseEndSprayer

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:21PM
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stoneys_fatali(9b Duarte,Ca.)

I try to go easy on fert with my container plants. I use the E.B. Stone potting soil. It's organic with the worm castings, bat guano, etc.

I usually just let the soil dry out then hit them again.
Works for my plants. I have a wand type attachment which I really like.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:37PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Plain shower head >>> count 1 to 10 (will depend on how fast you can count. lol), Move to the next.
I adjust my shower head to about 2.5 gal/min. So in 10 seconds it will deliver about 1.5 quarts. You may try to adjust up or down and vary your timing for container size. So say I have 30 containers lined up. It take 300 seconds or about 5 minutes. If a am inefficient (likely !) it can take 10 minutes. O' well I have the raised beds and flower beds ..haha.

To fertilize I use 2 gal. watering can. If I give them each ONE quart, for 30 containers , I will have to do it 4 times. But that will be like once every week or so. Still too much work., little pay I QUIT. hehe.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:09PM
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My setup last year was as follows

dedicated hose bib on my house for the garden
brass backflow preventor
1" supply hose
ball valve(master manual on/off)
2hr manual timer
4 way garden hose splitter
4 100' soaker hoses

I crank the 2 hr timer on and open 1-2 of the soaker hoses at a time. Peppers on 2 hoses. Tomatoes on 1, and everything else on 1. This allows me to just crank the timer before I go to work, or when I come home. My garden is 20'x50 and this covers everything.

I also have impulse sprinklers for watering flowers and the lawn that cover the whole garden, but I rarely use these anymore. I switched to the soaker hoses a few years ago after having a lot of mold on the zucchini and yellow squash leaves and losing too many tomatoes to blossom drop from the cold water.

I am adding an orbit/rainbird timer and valves this year to automate the watering of everything.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 1:54AM
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Nice garden. A lot of areas in zones 8-10 are suffering from water shortages and restrictions, so wholesale lawn/garden watering is a no-no, so drip is the way to go...

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 7:46AM
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I hate watering, and when it's 100+ it's a daily routine. But I do make it easier by added MG shake and feed for Tomatoes a couple of times a season, then all I have to do is water with the hose. haha, I should fertilize my plants in the GH they haven't been fertilized for over a month, maybe longer.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 8:10AM
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the System I used was Raindrip SDFSTHP.. But TomT226 mentioned something about the timers only working one year? I got one season out of it with no worries and haven't really looked at it to see if it still works, but I THINK its fine ( I can let you know when I get it set up).

The one benefit found with the kit is that the price of the kit with all the items (including the timer) was cheaper than the timer itself (they also sell that seperately).

The image is the breakdown of the kit, I am not saying you should go with this brand or set up, but I am mainly attaching it to show you what components you would need if you feel like going this route and want to know what is involved.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 10:16AM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

Really appreciate the input from all! I think I'm going to use a spray feeder while I research more on the drips in the meantime. Looks like the drip is the way to go, just many variables I'll have to look into. I'm finding now that there are 'fertilizer injector' systems that may be attached to them. Seems like I'd want to go w this route - it'll just take a little time to figure out how I want to go about it.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 2:32PM
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Just make sure you have some sort of backflow prevention on your setup (whichever way you decide) if you use an injector system of any type.

Really, I would advise you to NOT hook up anything to your hoses that inject anything foreign into your water.

Many homeowners do not realize that backflow happens a lot due to cross connection. What this is, is when there is a break in the public water system (or high use) that causes water in your pipes to pull back into the water system. So if you have any type of injections of chemicals or other substance, this will siphon those chemicals back through your water pipes and possibly out into the main water system. Check valves help but are not always reliable to stop this.

I used to run several water systems and it HAS happened. A visitors center at one system had all the employees getting sick etc. We found out that they had a cross connection that siphoned into the drinking water.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 2:56PM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

Good point, I didn't know that either! This is why I'm glad I posed the question in the first place. The tap water where I live is actually good, so I never buy any bottled waters - the last thing I need is a frosty glass of MG cocktail...

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 9:37PM
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The "backflow preventer" is called a vacuum breaker. It screws into the outlet of the spigot timer. The plastic ones are junk. The brass ones are $6 and last years. They'll be in the same area as the drip and irrigation stuff.
A word about the fertilizer mixers on drip systems. If you wanna do this, you HAVE to get emitters that disassembles/cleanable because the suspended materials in the water WILL stop them up after a few weeks, if not days. I wouldn't do it again.
Another tip for drip systems. Have a propane torch handy to soften the 1/2" & 1/4" tubing when installing straight connectors, etc. Just a touch will soften the plastic enough for correct assembly. Also, make sure you use .700 OD tubing (DIG) as it is the standard diameter. Raindrip is smaller and the couplings won't work.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 6:53AM
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Well some do say that less watering will make your peppers hotter, as well as making it develop deeper roots so that you water less as the plant gets bigger, so you'll have to balance that with your watering routine that you decide on.

And also, what is actually in your soil mix that you are using? Or the percentage of water-retaining components?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 12:41PM
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I just used Pro-mix BX, and no peppers seemed upset about it


    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 2:54PM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

Well, I'm off to get the sprayer on the start of next week. I'm still heavily researching the drip options, and now think I'll steer clear of the feeding injectors. Thanks for the input, the advice has in the past - and continues to save me time and money!

@gardenper - I have them in 5gal buckets. The bottom layer ~1in is pebbles and small stones. The the next 1/3 layer is top soil mixed 50-50 with pine bark fines. Then the top 2/3 is just the cheapest potting soil known to man, around $1.99 a bag at Wally World. Then the top is mulched with the same pine bark. I also have 13 1/2in holes drilled in each bucket - 8 on the bottom, and 5 around the side (about 1.25in off the bottom). I thought the cheap potting soil would retain water well (and, it does - somewhat), but as the plants have grown they really drain it rather quickly.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 12:13AM
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I also just use ProMix until they hit the ground. I bottom water almost daily until they go into 18oz solo cups. Then top water every few days and water once with diluted miracle grow or organic slow release ferts after they go into the cups. Never had a problem. If your soil/medium has plenty of nutes then you should only have to worry about water and adding new fertilizer yearly. At least thats what I do but now that I think about it i may not be getting the most from my garden.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 1:13AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

One thing you can do to reduce water/moisture loss due to evaporation and keep the soil cooler: MULCH IT ! MULCH IT ! MULCH IT !

And I mean generously, not a thin layer. I like small pine barks (Not to be confused with shredded pine or cedar mulch, just bark). At the end of season you can rake and save them or just till it in.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 1:30AM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

I have them mulched. But, at this point there has been a lot of settling in the containers, and likely at least a minimal amount of soil loss. I've got plenty of my pine bark left (it's really cheap here, think I payed around 3 bucks for the large size bags). Adding more won't be a problem, and definitely a wise idea.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 1:56AM
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