when to boot them out...

peppernoviceApril 29, 2012

I have been putting my plants out in the sun on and off for a week now.The past few days, they have been outside from 10 am till around 8 pm. They have not been out at night. I just mixed up my first batch of 5-1-1 mix. I put four plants in 7 gallon pots, and I'm going to leave them out overnight. Do you think this is too soon? I checked the weather and it's going to be 60 to 62 F at night, and 78 to 90 F during the day. I was hoping it would be a good week to start getting them out a few at a time. I have about 25 plants total. Does this sound okay, or should I hold off? Thanks...Tim

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tsheets(5)

Sounds good! As long as the night temps don't go below about 50, you should be ok. Since you just transplanted them, you might want to give them a little shade/dappled light for a few days. And water the crap out of them!! I just put my first overwintered pepper in my first batch of 5:1:1 and thought that because it was inside due to a cold front, I could wait for 2 days before watering (water on the 3rd day). I think I waited too long. Right now, every other day is working for me (it's a hanging basket, so, much smaller than 7 gal). I think the bark likes to soak up quite a bit of water initially.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 7:49PM
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peppernovice

Thanks tsheets. I was a little worried about how much water to give them. They are still only 5 or 6 inches tall, so they look tiny in those pots. I was afraid the water would all sink to the bottom, and they wouldn't get any. I'll make sure to give them a little drink again tomorrow.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 8:03PM
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tsheets(5)

That's one of the characteristics of the 5:1:1 - it drains very well. Which also means dries out quickly. :-) From what I understand, you would have to work at it to overwater while using it.

Your plants will let you know soon enough when they are thirsty. Droopy / limp leaves will mean you should have watered yesterday. :-)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 8:24PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, guys!
Tsheets is right! When you water, water slowly and thoroughly so that the bark soaks
up moisture. If the water still runs through too quickly, water a little and then come back
in five to ten minutes and water again, slowly and thoroughly. I also pre-water my mix
before I fertilize, then I fertilize, and finish with a light watering.

Josh

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 3:32PM
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esox07

GOod points. I also notice that when watering, especially when top watering, the water tends to find "channels" down through the mix and runs primarily through those channels and doesn't even get to all the soil in the container. I noticed this last year after I watered and then stuck a stick in and it came out clean. I dug down into the soil a bit and found that there were large areas that were dry under the surface and areas that were saturated. If you water, let it be for a while and let the water soak into the soil mix, come back and rewater, it tends to soak into the whole soil mix much better than doing it all in one watering. Water good once, come back in a half hour and water again real good. Bottom watering can aleviate this problem but that is harder to do with 7 gallon pots than it is with 1 gallon pots or 3.5" starter pots.
Bruce

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 3:39PM
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capoman(5a)

Yes, 5:1:1 can get hydrophobic if you let it dry out too much. With small plants in large containers though, you won't need to water much until they get larger.

Two ways to get all the soil wet when it gets a bit hydrophobic:

Fast watering. If you can get water in fast enough to cover the entire surface up to the rim, it will travel down through the soil and pull oxygen behind it. You will get some floating perlite, but it will all settle down and water nice and evenly. You need a fast draining soil to do this.

Slow watering. As listed above by previous posters. Water several times lightly and carefully. This is best if the mix is very hydrophobic.

Wet/dry areas usually happen when you water quickly, but not fast enough to cover the entire surface. In this case, the water will channel as discussed and you can end up with dry areas.

I prefer the first method and try not to allow the mix to get to a hydrophobic state. Not sure I agree with those who state that they wait until the plant actually wilts. Not only do you stress the plant, but you also end up with hydrophobic media. Also, for beginners, the subtle wilting might not be noticed until a severe wilt which damages the plant. Best not to water until just before the soil becomes hydrophobic, and is best judged by the weight of the plant.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 3:58PM
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tsheets(5)

To clarify my earlier post, If you wait until they wilt, then you will know that you should water a little sooner. I occasionally have a plant that wilts a bit, particularly when there is a major change (moving from inside to outside, repotting, growth spurt, etc..). I don't intentionally make the plant wilt before watering, but, sometimes it happens.

It is a useful tool when you're not sure if you are watering too much, though.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 7:26PM
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