flipback23(9 SF Bay)June 20, 2014

Hi All,

Another quick question, I have most of my plants in 3gal pots and 5 gal buckets in 5-1-1 mix the rest are in raised beds that hold the moisture and keep relatively cooler. Its been pretty warm lately and I have had to water about every other day as apposed to weekly earlier in the season. Should I add mulch to the containers? Normally I only mulch my raised beds if needed. If so what mulch is best for 5-1-1 mix based containers. I have tons of compost that I use in my raised beds available but is it ok to put compost on top of 5-1-1 mix.

Thanks as always

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Add some coarse (unfinished) compost to the containers AND consider wrapping them in something to keep them cooler.

A low wall of shade cloth, anything to keep the sun off the containers helps keep the roots cool.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 5:34PM
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It would suffice, but large bark is probably more practical. Compost may cause the 1st couple inches of the 5-1-1 to break down sooner though.

Let me get this straight -- your watering your plants every other day whether in ground or potted??? Seems pretty frequent to me -- the 3 gallons,, maybe. Are you watering because they're wilted in the heat of the day?

I have most in ground with a couple inches of compost for mulch and water maybe every 8-10 days right now -- temps have been in the 80-90's for quite awhile now. Even in my 10 or 15 gal containers, I water about once a week at this point.

Of course, soil properties differ. Maybe yours dries out very fast.


    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 5:39PM
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flipback23(9 SF Bay)


No my in grounds are fine that's like every 5-7 days per water since my beds arent very deep.

My containers seem to be drying out quickly. I was originally giving a good watering and then 5-6 days later they would start to wilt up and I would dip stick the mix and see it was drying out.

Now by the end of day two I could see signs of wilt coming on in a few and if I didnt water by morning of day three there would be some wilt action going on on more plants. And the mix would feel dry again.

Even my tomatoes that are in 20 gals are drying out in a couple days. I dont know maybe my mix is not holding the water well anymore but I do water more frequently now.

I do also know that my buckets are pretty full of roots now that the plants have started to take off with this nice weather so maybe they are just more thirsty lol. My peppers have nearly doubled in size and bushiness over the last month and my tomatoes are hitting 6 ft tall already. So maybe they just use up more.


    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 6:01PM
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Oh.. ok. Yeah. All those roots are taking up space so the medium can't hold onto the moisture. Now you know why I prefer larger pots. :) Especially down here in Socal, where the heat and long growing season would have me watering like you're doing.

Agree with lazy gardens about the shielding, I lift my pots off the ground and shield my black pots with plywood. Totally disagree with him about using UNFINISHED compost around any of my plants. Tilled into the soil for next season? Fine. But unfinished as mulch? Too many problems that may arise.



    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 6:21PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I use pine nuggets; I think any size small, medium is fine. The larger the nuggets the more air will be in it.
I use black pots (mostly) on purpose to warm up the soil. We have cool weather up here in PNW. Tonight's low forecast is 46F (USDA 7b/8, Heat Zone 1).
So you know what I am talking about. And that is why smaller pots are fine too. That is what I think.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 9:26PM
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5-1-1 dries out really fast. I lost a small lemon tree with this mixture because it got toasted in the sun.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 12:41AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)


5-1-1 is a home made mixture. And because its main ingredient (bark fine) is not a standard item, no two 5-1-1 can be the same. It also needs to be adjusted for different climates for its water retention quality. One way is to increase peat moss. For example make it 4-2-1. But I prefer to add some floor dri (UltraSorb). Sort of I make a 4-1-1-1(The last 1 being DE). I like DE because it holds moisture but does not make the soil soggy like peat moss does.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 2:12AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Treat the tomato different from the peppers. Tomatoes drink like there is not enough water in the world.

I've had no problems with hot roots in black plastic pots on lawn so I don't consider that to be major problem.

I also run into "can't water enough" with 5:1:1 in summer heat. The only solution (IMO) is to up-pot, and fill out the new pots with a peat-based mix like MGMC to hold more water. Or just get used to watering daily.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 1:59PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Shading the container is my first course of action.

After that, I agree with adding bark as a mulch. I use the larger bark that is left over after screening bark for the 5-1-1 - waste not, want not ;-)

Here's a shot of my set-up. I use those plastic flats that are used for transporting small plants at nurseries. They are perfect. I set the flats on the south-side exposure where the sun blazes at midday. With the flats in place, my plants don't wilt because the roots stay relatively cool.

Last week we had several days over 100F (two days at 105F). Now we're in the mid-90F's every day. Even so, I'm only watering my #5 nursery containers 2 - 3 times a week.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 2:34PM
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