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Watering Schedule / Compost Tea

Posted by tkgarden3 AZ (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 25, 14 at 12:36

I just set up 4 in-ground/raised beds in my backyard along the west wall so they will get afternoon shade. They are all 4 X 8 ft mixed with compost, vermiculite and peat moss.

Everything is on drip irrigation with 1 gph emitters.

First Question: What is your watering schedule now and then what is it when it starts getting really hot? Some people say just water in the early morning, and others say water multiple times per day.

Second Question: Do any of you guys use compost tea? I have a small worm bin and mix castings, rock dust, fish emulsion and molasses in a bucket with an air pump. This is my first season really trying to utilize compost tea but I'm unsure of the frequency I should apply it. Every week was what my plan was going to be, but any suggestions?

This season i'm trying:
sweet 100's
better boy
yellow pear
yellow squash
slicing cucumbers
hales cantaloupe
sugar baby watermelon

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Watering Schedule / Compost Tea

Tried Better boy last year for the first time and it did not go well. I am sticking with romas and celebrities. Watch the yellow pear, last year mine turned into a very large tree, needs mega room.

RE: Watering Schedule / Compost Tea

You really NEED a moisture meter.

I have drip hose in my veggie beds (in-ground and raised, both heavily mulched with slightly underdone compost) and right now they are getting 10 min 2x daily. Under the mulch the soil is evenly moist as far as I can stick the meter in.

Spring seedlings = 5-10 min 2x daily

Then it will be 3x daily, then I will increase time as the temps go up. A 5 minute increase = 15 more minutes that day.

By June it's 15-20 minutes 3x daily. I water to avoid my preferred early AM harvesting ... 3AM, 11AM and 6PM are typical. I have that clay-ish silty stuff, and the raised beds have about 60% dirt and 40% compost, so I get better results with several light waterings. Doing it all at once would give me too much runoff.

I check with the moisture meter and by scraping back the mulch to check the surface. The goal is moist and consistent so they don't have their growth checked by water stress, but not water-logged.

NOTE: In the heat of the day, tomatoes and squash will wilt ... do not panic. it's how they handle too much transpiration. If they fluff right back up when the sun goes down, they are OK.

Am growing for summer:

Romas in the west-side "great wall of tomatoes" (a bed walled in by two sheets of remesh for support) and in one of the full compost bins.

Matt's Wild Cherry also in the great wall, and there's a blooming volunteer where I have Armenian cucumbers. There's volunteer Matt's all over the yard!

Tomatillos in the in-ground bed on the west side and in the east-side raised bed.

Serrano and chilaca chilis in the west-side in-ground bed (they do best there)

Okra in the west-side bed as shade plants for the chilis, and in the east bed too.

Herbs ... all over the place. Rosemary is up to decorative shrub status. Basil likes full sun, but invariably dies of the cold, the oregano has self-seeded itself into a ground cover status, the marjoram cowers in the shade of the orange tree and the mint is also in the tomato wall.

If you are short on space - and my method of composting tends to leave me with bins of it slowly degrading, take the full bin, put in a drip line and a puddle of dirt. Plant things (tomatoes and squash do splendidly) in it. It's a giant planter box.

RE: Watering Schedule / Compost Tea

I use the spaghetti tubing with the inline emitters which are spaced about 6 inches apart. One manufacturer has a product spaced 12 inches apart (DIG maybe?). I run the lines from 1/2 inch poly tubing and space them about 10 inches apart but you this can be tighter if needed.

Right now I water for 10 - 15 minutes every 3 days but will shorten this to every other day as the weather warms. A 3 inch layer of mulch on top of the tubing keeps it from becoming brittle in the sun and slows evaporation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden drip irrigation example

RE: Watering Schedule / Compost Tea

"What is your watering schedule now and then what is it when it starts getting really hot?"

Ideally you water to depth (one foot target in a garden bed) and don't water again until the water level is around 3" determined by feel, soil probe (often hard on garden soil) or meter. This keeps the inhibiting salts in the water down below the root zone. Garden soil like yours water will like spread out more than up so fewer emitters needed to run longer time to get water to one foot. Ideally in the summer no more than once a day. But unless you mulch and have some wind protection/overhead shade this can be difficult in June.

"Second Question: Do any of you guys use compost tea?"

In our arid climate I doubt there will be compost tea produced from your worm bin. If any is produced use it. But I consider it a rip off to create compost tea by soaking compost and collecting the effluent. All that is occurring is removing the nutrients from compost that would leech out on their own anyway. In other parts of the country where humidity levels produce compost tea from the worm bin it can provide nutrient benefit to collect and reuse. Spraying it on leave (foliar feeding) seems a recipe for fungal disaster in soils rarely nutrient deficient.

RE: Watering Schedule / Compost Tea

Do you filter your drip emitters? What is the mesh size of the filter? I've discovered quite the conundrum in regards to drip emitters and compost tea; most of the components of the tea (eg protozoa and microbes) will not fit through the drip filter, and removing the filter might clog the emitters. :(

I hope someone can tell me I'm wrong about this, because applying compost tea via a drip system would be too easy.

This post was edited by therylmccoy on Fri, Aug 8, 14 at 1:45

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