instant puddling of water

nurse_joannaMarch 31, 2009

My first foray into the SFG method. I am a city-dweller, so I have some nice raised beds on my concrete patio.

Just put in 6" of Mel's Mix (on top of 6" of the garden soil I used last year - which includes rocks for drainage). Planted only 3 squares (it was getting dark) and watered the whole thing.

Water *immediately* pooled on top of the soil! It didn't drain right away either. Took a couple of minutes, at least. Did I do something wrong with the mix? Or is this normal for the first watering? Thanks!!!

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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

I don't think you did anything wrong. It's just dry, and will do better once watered really well. Mine did the same thing last year.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 11:31PM
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snibb(Salt Lake City)

My guess is that when you first filled the box, you didn't spray it down as you put the soil in. That Mels mix holds a tremendous amount of water, and by not spraying it down in chunks, you can get an idea of how much water will be in the soil...I think you will be just fine...

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 12:08AM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

Peat moss takes forever to hydrate, vermiculte less so. Over time it is very quick but that's probably why the pooling, as was said. Oh, and don't compact it. That should help too.

Good luck! Report back if that doesn't work.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 9:54AM
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I always use buckets of HOT water to rehydrate peat moss before mixing it in with the other stuff. It just sits and floats forever with cold water, but hot water works instantly. Of course, that tip is too late for you now, but next time....


Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 12:11PM
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Thanks! I dampened the peat moss a bit before mixing (it wasn't hot water, and it certainly wasn't buckets of it). It was just so strange to see water immediately pooling instead of absorbing into the soil.

I really wanted to get started with the garden and couldn't wait for my book to arrive from amazon (turns out it was stolen from my front door!), so I figured I might have missed some tips.

It's supposed to rain today and tomorrow, so I should be set. Fingers crossed!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 12:28PM
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The mix is just dry and a bit hydrophobic. I bet you can remedy that with a good watering with a soaker hose or like someone said hot water. I know when my mom buys bails of peat moss she pokes some holes in it and lets it set outside for a week or two. You see that a lot with potting mix; which is why you wet it before use.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 3:58PM
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daylilyfanatic4(Zone 6 SE NY)

rain might not do the trick I mixed up a batch of mels mix without the vermiculite and even though we have had a inch of rain an I poured gallon's of cold water on to it there are still dry spots under the top layer which is moist. I think I'll try some hot water and see if that works for me.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 8:15PM
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daves_girl(7 GA)

When I am filling the beds, I put a 2 inch layer of Mel's mix and water the entire bed. Then I add another 2 inches of mix and water again followed by raking to make sure the water is absorbed and there are no dry spots. I continue this pattern until the bed is filled and moist. I haven't used hot water before, but I may give that a try next time.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 4:56PM
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It's worth remembering that an inch of rain on a 4x4 bed is equivalent to 9 or 10 gallons.

As daves_girl mentions, Mel's mix can be mixed almost 1:1 so while an inch of rain will help, it's not going leave the soil feeling like a damp sponge.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 9:39PM
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I actually had the same problem. Somehow I missed having to really water the mix as it was added to the box. I wet it down with the hose but didn't really water it.

thankfully we've been getting dumped on by rain so I imagine my beds have caught up on their water needs by now but I'm going to make sure they are fully hydrated before planting (which at this late date and a freeze coming next week might be later rather than sooner).

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 9:57PM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

I didn't water any of my beds when filling them. I used all dry ingredients and let the rain water them. It worked well for me. Next time I work with peat moss I'll be sure to water it first.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 1:15PM
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choxie(7 (NC))

Mine didn't puddle when I watered it. I did what someelse mentioned, I put in about 2 inches and watered it down.

I did not however, rake the soilless soil to see if there were any dry spots.

We are getting rain again today, so I'll probably water the whole box again tonight. I plan to plant my lettuce and spinach seeds.

It is supposed to freeze again this week, So I'll try to put out the plastic to help hold in some heat.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 10:28AM
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snibb(Salt Lake City)

choxie..I think you will be okay if you cover your garden with plastic. Here in SLC, Utah, it was 45 degrees out the other day, and was mostly overcast. I went out and looked at the thermometer under the cover and it was 77. That was with hardly any sun at all. So, it might be a little extra work, but, I think its well worth it. We have been eating since about March 1st...all salad greens that is..

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 10:37AM
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