What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

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What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby abrogard » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:53 pm

Can I water my plants - with a spray, i.e. wetting the foliage - on bright, hot, sunny days like today (35 deg, south aust, murraylands) ?

I know nothing I haven't learned or been told this season because it is my first.

My neighbour pops up when I' m watering my water melons and my climbing beans and tells me I shouldn't be doing it. They wll all get burned to bits.

I tell him I did it yesterday, a similar day, and I do it quite frequently and I point to a bed of bok choy that got the treatment just this morning, a bed of tomato and capsicum, a bed of spinach, silver beet and rocket and couple of beds of anonymous seedlings... all of which got sprayed this very day and yesterday. And none of which are 'burned to bits'.

He fossicks around and finds some crisped leaves and leaf edges on the climbing beans (amongst all this wonderland of undamaged plants) and declares that as proof.

He shows me his garden which is a cucumber plant spreading over the ground in a corner with all the leaves looking terminally exhausted but bearing numerous wonderful fruit. Better than anything I've got.

He remains unconvinced by anything I show him.

I've heard of this. I was very conscious of it. I used to water with a hose pointed just at the roots of the plant because of this (and for economy) but then I spread pea straw and wanted to damp it down and slowly took to using more and more spray.

And I fancied that this happens in nature whenever nature feels like it: a 'sun shower'.

And I fancied it could be quite valuable having the ambient temperature of the bed drop considerably.

So I tried an overall spray a couple of times on the bok choys and the spinach and tomato etc.. and it didn't seem to do any damage.

So recently I've been watering at the roots with a stream as usual which is the major watering, the main amount of water the plants get and then I turn to the spray setting and damp down the pea straw and giving the foliage a bit of a wetting, fancying I'm doing the plants a good turn.

I've shown him some climbing beans round the back and he's found crispy leaves and leaf edges on them that he claims are water damage even though I claim I've never watered that high on the trellis - and he could be right, I could have accidentally sprayed that high. But like that's the only damage. That little bit.

So that's how it stands at the moment: I think I've demonstrated overwhelming evidence that it does no or negligible damage and I suspect he thinks he's shown me that he's right and it is to be avoided.

Do the knowledgeable and sage members of this community have an opinion on this?

regards,

ab :)

p.s. and what about my watering regimen in this 35 degree heat, anyway? Three times a day. Morning to give them a start. Mid afternoon when they're obviously languishing, leaves drastically drooping, no turgidity at all, and evening to set them up for the night and the predicted hot following day (the only watering the neighbour recommends).

In my silty soil where water just runs straight through am I merely wasting water trying to keep the plants turgid when it is not necessary?
Last edited by abrogard on Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby midgin » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:50 pm

Me thinks you have a pain in the butt neighbour, I say...ignore him and sit back and enjoy what you do best. IE.....growing great plants...that DO thrive.
That negative fellow is always going to find find fault...so let him go sit in his negative little world...meanwhile...you enjoy the results of your labour. (Y)

The only detrimental aspect of watering in the middle of the day, that I have discovered....evaporation is much higher than the norm.
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby abrogard » Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:09 pm

Well that's very heartening, Midgin, thanks for that.

:)
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby bubba louie » Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:24 pm

Ditto what midge said.

One thing to note is that watering at night MAY increase mildew on sensitive plants because it stays damp longer.

Even a well watered plant can droop a bit on hot days, so unless it's bone dry, don't stress.
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby abrogard » Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:41 pm

I've got mildew on my pumpkins alright, I'd say, they're all misty white leaves... But it doesn't seem to be doing any harm beyond that. I don't spray water them, ever. I water them at the roots and I've expected the total lack of water on the leaves and the hot days supposed to kill mildew will eradicate it... but... no. so I'll try this milk spray sooner or later..

( and the next time I plant pumpkins - well I didn't plant them they planted themselves but... - I'll mark where they are planted with a planted stick so's I can water that spot amongst the sea of leaves... and how do you get on when you do as often suggested and plant on a hill? the water is going to run off all the time.... this gardening is a mystery..... )

It is very heartening what midge says about watering during the day. I meant to ask what midge has to say about NOT watering during the day when it's 35 and more all day...

I have very little experience. I don't know. But I have seen examples on a mini scale with my seedlings and seed raising trays... I've seen plants come back from limp, prostrate and I've seen them fail to come back... so I know they don't always recover, not little ones anyway.... what about big ones, that's the point, I guess, this neighbour can only maintain his attitude, I guess, if his plants survive the drought and heat stroke conditions he imposes on them.

I need to know, I suppose, not just this end of the scale: when to think about giving water, but the other end of the scale: when it's too late, when they've dried out too much. I need to know the spread. I should isolate a plant or two and experiment with them. This hot spell just finished in the last hour. Another one coming next week. I'll try then. Sacrifice a few plants and give them only one daily watering, see how they go....

What do you think...

:)
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby midgin » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:10 pm

If in doubt with over head watering....let the water flow/seep into the ground at the root level. I always recollect a friend saying how she hated 'such and such' a plant ....as it wilted with the heat. The 'wilt' was part of that plants natural defence mechanism to 'cope' with intense heat....look at that same plant in the cool of the evening...it had bounced back. She was reading 'wilt' as MUST NEED water...whereas the wilt was the manner in which that plant coped with extreme heat.
Watch and read your plants....a slight wilt may not be the end of the world....just that clever little plant doing what it does best...
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby tam » Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:13 pm

and how do you get on when you do as often suggested and plant on a hill?

You make a hill around a mtr wide, 30cm deep and make a dish in the middle. When you water the water soaks into the roots.
I only water late afternoon and do the foliage and roots on my vegs & newly planted plants. I think you can make them too dependent on water and they will not stand the heat. Most of my plants depend on the rain and only get a water if we have a long dry spell.
Newly planted vegies I will water in the morning till they are stronger.
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby abrogard » Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:45 pm

You are not the first to suggest this, Tam, but the first to put it so plainly: 'make them dependent'.

I have most certainly taken that path and I don't even know why. This is my first ever season as a gardener. I guess I started off watering seedlings twice or three times a day. You have to do that, don't you? And I had the example of my wife previous years when she was able to keep a garden, watering every day...

That's it. Maybe that's why. Just those things.

And more and more it looks like I've taken entirely the wrong path. Entirely. I was saying somewhere that I have some plants that get watered three times a day. If I know it is going to be hot tomorrow I will water the previous evening. Then I will be up in the morning and water them. Then I will water them around the middle of the day when they will be showing heat stress ( or maybe I should say 'heat reaction' or even 'heat adaptation techniques' ) and then I'll water them again before sunset to set them up again for another hot day on the morrow.....

And you're telling me you wouldn't have watered them at all! "..most of my plants depend on the rain.."

And I can believe this. I've again and again questioned my wife and on forum posts - "...how do the farmers do it.." because I know they can't give this kind of attention to their plants yet they have acres and acres growing beautifully....

There's something wrong.

It must be my watering regime, my whole attitude to it.

There's a man posted somewhere about his summer beginning, weeks of over 35... Two days of over 35 and I'm imagining all my plants will be dead. People are advising me to cover my beans or they'll be dead, I've covered them and seen some burn anyway.....

It is all wrong somehow. I've just started gardening and I've got off on the wrong foot, without the basic tenets properly understood. I'm into backyard cosseting or something... Perhaps trying to nurse the out-of-season or the unviable....

I don't know. But I'll appreciate if anyone can supply those 'basic tenets' that I'm surmising I'm lacking...

I suppose what I grow has to have something to do with it all.

Well, I set off to grow cucumbers and beans for my wife who had to abandon her garden. That was all. That was it.

Then I let 'wild' tomatoes come up and overtake the cucumbers. The beans were alright (after a long battle with snails).

Then a 'wild' pumpkin announced itself and I've let it go and it has 6 big fruit now. (two vines actually, three fruit each)

And then I tried off my own bat with bok choy, climbing beans, climbing cucumbers, zucchini, radish, parsnip, silver beet, spinach, rocket, beetroot, kohl rabi - and even more tomato but gross lisse this time and all of that is on the go somewhere or other in the garden right now.

The bok choy is a definite success. The beans are cropping all the time (they are shaded with shade cloth). The 'wild' tomatoes are all setting fruit. The cucumbers are not so good and those I get my wife says are the wrong kind, they are about 200mm long when I pick them and they've got seeds in them. She says they are meant for gerkins and are now too old. I thought all cucumbers were like that. (I'm not much of a vege eater - mainly eat 'em in my hamburgers). The spinach and Silver Beet and Rocket move very slowly. The radish are great. The parsnip I think are great but need a couple of weeks I'm told (by the neighbour) to grow yet. Their leaves wilt badly very quickly.

That's a sort of basic rundown on what's happening.


And everything with any size at all is getting a minumum of a daily watering, to the roots, hand held hose, probably delivering something like half a litre to a litre and a half to each plant as minimum. And hot days they're all getting, as I said, three such waterings.....

And the seedlings will get five or six quick spray overs to wet the ground....

Some days I think I will spend four hours watering.

And I'm thinking of laying black pipe irrigation. I've actually got some laid out but not yet connected up.

I think I'm doing it all wrong.


p.s.

Tam. thanks for the clues on the pumpkin 'hills'.

:)
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby bubba louie » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:09 pm

Your soil type will influence how often you water as well. You say the water just runs through your soil, so I'd be working on improving that. Keep digging in as much organic matter as you can and mulch, mulch, mulch.
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby gardenlen » Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:30 am

for some specific plants mostly inside foliage watering is needed but generally in the garden the vege' garden at least it is best to deep water the plants around the root zone once or twice a week sometimes 3 times, for summer it is best done late arvo' early evening, for me watering foliage unnecessarily can cause powdery mildew, in summer plants will wilt to conserve moisture loss on hot days but so long as they revive by early evening they have sufficient moisture, keep gardens well mulched around the 6" to 8" depth this insulates the root runs and conserves moisture.

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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby abrogard » Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:02 am

I will watch them and not water until after seeing some droop - and I will increase the amount of droop I'll accept.

Tam's '..most of my plants depend on the rain..' and the fields around me loaded with plants just suffering the full blast of the sun all day - but growing well and destined for market - are strongly in my mind.

Both a far cry from what I'm doing.

I'll try to improve my soil and I will increase the mulch - but that, again, is very different to the farmer's field.

Thanks all for the help....

:)
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby Brewer » Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:28 am

I have some apple saplings that have little burnt dots on some of the leaves, which I am sure has been caused by careless daytime watering. Of course, it may depend on a number of variables - susceptibility of the leaves, UV rating and ambient temp on the day, possibly even the mineral profile of the water.

In truth I think daytime watering is less than ideal on a number of levels, not least of which is that I'd rather be in the shade in the middle of the day myself. But it must also discourage deep root growth, meaning that the plants are less well equipped to survive a brief period of neglect, should I be too busy/hot/lazy to water them one day. It usually doesn't rain in the middle of a hot sunny day, so a plant is unlikely to rely on it for survival.

Of course, you are now locked in mortal combat with your neighbour, which means that any change in your habits will be seen as a win by him. The only logical solution to this is to get some silver Christmas tinsel, attach is to a thin wire for some stiffness, and poke one end in your hose. As long as you make the right sound effects and wiggle it around enough you can pretend to be watering as often as you like.

:mrgreen:
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby abrogard » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:55 pm

That's a good trick. I think it'd be interesting (?) being a neighbour of yours.

I water from necessity. The neighbour himself said my plants were dying when I walked out to water them at 1.30p.m. today at about 37 Degrees C, I'd guess. Or more. It is apparently 38.1 right now: 3.40p.m.

So I watered them. I enjoyed that, rather, bringing them back to life before his eyes by watering them under the burning sun - a stream directed to the roots and then a couple of all-over sprays to damp everything down....

They're out there now, standing up big and bold, no apparent damage whatever....

Seems to me quite possible that this sun/waterdrop damage could be quite true but confined to certain plants, hairy leafed ones, say, that retain drops of moisture for some time.

But my watering:
I am trying to encourage them to sink their roots. I do try. I've always tried. I'm watering only once a day now in this heatwave. Letting them go to the limit - 'dying' the neighbour said.

I used to water four times a day on hot days. Ha. Yes, but those were seedlings. I've never tried to water mature plants over frequently and I've always hoped they'd sink their roots.

But I'm not good at it. My soil is silty brown soil, water drops straight through it. So a bit of a concentrated watering should sink pretty well into the ground. And that's what I try to do. If you stay in one place too long the water will become a deep pool and run away, of course. And that's wasting water and money, inextricably entwined these days, so we don't like to do that. So I water, move on, come back, rewater, move on...

See? I'm trying.

But perhaps not well enough. For instance I still haven't got down before watering and plumbed a depth and checked the moisture, then watered and checked again after a certain time for dampness at that depth and ascertained once and for all how long it takes to get water down to, say, 300mm in my soil.

I've never been able to get anywhere near the 'water once a week' I read about.

Perhaps my soil is at fault. I'll improve it as quick as I can. Perhaps it's part me, part my soil. Perhaps it's part my choice of veges to grow. I think I notice that many veges claiming to be 'full sun' simply prefer not to be.

Snap beans. First thing we had in. Supposed to love full sun. In my garden they have a fence to east of them so don't get any sun at all until it is high enough to clear the fence. Yet a hot day will knock the crap out of them. I have them permanently shaded now with a white shade cloth and the two at the end of the row that miss the shade of that cloth until the sun moves around are always sporting the odd crispy leaf.

Silverbeet, spinach, rocket... together in a bed with an eastern wall and a northern wall - don't get the sun until the afternoon. Crisp up quick and smart.

Climbing beans out the front, big gum to the east, shaded till afternoon, house to the west, sunlight cut off early, crisp up quickly, plants at the end of the east-west row showing burned leaves from sunburn.

Cucumbers wherever I've got them showing stress signs almost as soon as the sun comes out..

Oriental Radish out there shaded in the mornings by the gum tree - don't feel the full force of old sol till the afternoon, upon which they immediately lay down ready to die...

More and more I think this 'full sun' applies to Northern Europe or something.

My whole garden would go wonderfully under shade cloth, I think, the whole thing.


And I have had some thoughts about this whole water thing. I've been searching the web for information but failed to find what I want.

Seems to me that a plant is obviously better off if it is always turgid. Seems to me that when flaccid with lack of water the plant must have shut down as a chemical factory. I have read a little about what happens in the leaf when it is too hot and there's not enough moisture but not enough to tell me what I want to know which is: can the plant continue with useful work when in that state?

Does it, for instance, switch its energies from photosynthesis in the leaves to root growth and push those roots further down?

Or are its activities more 'symmetrical' - that is, it does everything at the same time when it has the water, the sunlight, the nutrients it requires? And shuts everything down when it doesn't have everything?

Because if it does then I should always make haste to liven it up when it is showing signs of water stress because it is effectively 'dead' at such times, then, doing nothing, stopped.

But if it is motoring on and making, for instance, great progress in other directions such as downward root growth or something.. then I'd seek to only ever water after seeing some signs of stress, some limp leaves, some indication this other 'special' activity was switched on.
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby tam » Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:32 pm

Abrogard do you use a catcher when you mow? If you do, put the grass around your plants until you get other mulch. Just keep it a little way off the stems.
Give it a good water to get it wet.The worms will soon take it into your soil.
Your plants should not start to wilt as quickly as that.
We get very hot days up here and my vegies only get a late afternoon water. They show no sign of wilting. How deep are you digging your beds?

They are getting plenty at the moment. We have had 97mm since 6.30 this morning and it is still pouring down.
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby abrogard » Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:10 pm

I dig one spade deep. Though sometimes I've been a bit slack on that, here and there...

Don't use a catcher, but I could, I do have one. But I've got compost I've used as mulch and then later peastraw which is the current mulch. About 100mm deep when I first put it down

Pretty dry here: Oct total: 36mm, Nov total: 13mm, Dec total: 59mm, Jan so far: 11mm
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby Brewer » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:56 am

I wonder if your soil is hydrophobic? I had this in my last place, sandy silty soil that looked OK but was always bone dry. Water seemed to disappear through it or roll off it, but it never got wet.

Try using a wetting agent (either granules or a liquid you attach to your hose) on a patch and see if that makes any difference to the ability of the soil to get (and stay) damp.

Also, whereabouts are you? Full sun in inland NSW is a bit different to full sun in Hobart (or Suffolk).
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby karyn » Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:31 am

Mate, it's that shitty Murray Bridge red sandy loam...just keep on doing what you're doing and add more mulch as you need it. When your Summer crops finish, add some horse poo, chicken poo, more straw, autumn leaves, compost - whatever you can get easily and cheaply. I like the raised beds that I made (one sleeper high) as I have heavy clay and the extra 30cms let me add masses of compost and improve drainage. All the mulch and compost absorbs and holds water well. As long as the roots can get moisture, the plant should come back. Having said that, my cucs are cooked badly and I don't know whether it was the heat or they just ran their course. I haven't ever had cucs as good as these, and they're still producing, so we'll see. Your neighbour probably chucks superphosphate on his in the dark of night...he's also probably been gardening for longer and has better soil - yours will get there! My logic for vegie gardening is that great soil makes healthier plants.
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Re: What's The Truth on This Water Burn Business?

Postby abrogard » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:31 pm

All that's got the ring of truth to it, Karyn. As each bed becomes available I'll dig in some kind of improver. You talk as though you know this soil? Anything you can tell me about it - even anecdotal stuff - I will find interesting.

I have noticed a couple of times that when I first pour water on the dry soil in one area which has had not improvement, no digging, no work at all for I don't know how long - that the water runs off like off a sheet of plastic, leaving the soil dry. Just like the soil was hydrophobic or something. But a few moments later that's all over and it's turning to wet mud.

My kids discovered that dragging a magnet through the ground picked up a lot of fine magnetised material - I don't know if that is usual in gardens? Little flakes, seemed like.

I have been overwatering here and there, I find, now. I was potting plants there for a while, in buckets, and mixing up my own versions of potting mixes as I went. I finished up with about six different mixes spread through these buckets and some pots.

Then I've been running around madly watering everything ever day.. including these buckets.

Got some beans there, in a bucket, came out white! Three different places this happened. Two buckets and the bottom of one trellis carrying cucumbers. (supposedly).

I think the buckets were over watered and the cucumber trellis apparently needed heaps of water - the cucumbers are always quick to wilt - but the bean at the end of the row found it too much and so... white fruit.

Is that right? Anyone know? White produce, beans especially, an indication of over-watering?

Now I have taken the subject seriously and I plunge the digit into the ground everywhere I am proposing to water and I am discovering which buckets stay damp for a long time and which grow dry in a few hours. And which parts of the garden are like that.

I've got capsicum and peppers in buckets that grow so painfully slowly but seem to be delicately balanced according to water content... too much and they stop... too little and they stop... get it right and they green up, perk up and dammit, even grow a tad....

So now I watch for wilt and when I find it I test the ground and then I water 'minimally' - i.e. what I think should get them through. I've given up caring about 'deep watering' on the grounds that my soil lets anything down so quickly it all is 'deep' watering.

It seems to be a quite involved thing... I have to get to know my own garden... the soils, the sun exposure in that place.. the plants i've put there....

Would that be right?
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