Mulch now for winter or not?

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Re: Mulch now for winter or not?

Postby lucylu » Sat Apr 07, 2012 10:16 am

I've tried to find some refs and failed, but I wouldn't necessarily use that one paper as a reason to pour water on your garden.

I can tell you that in summer the vegies in my garden wilts every day... and for the most part, they survive and produce fantastically. I can't grow lettuce or celery or other delicate crops, but I can grow melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, capsicums. Most of them do get some afternoon shade.

Reading and research is fun, but there's no substitute for experience, in my experience! :lol: Time will show you how much water you need to put on.
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Re: Mulch now for winter or not?

Postby abrogard » Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:48 pm

And how moist is your soil? You push a finger in to the second knuckle at some time just before you'd want to water and it is decidedly moist all the way down? Or only faintly damp? Or only damp at the finger tip - i.e. the top all dry.

And how often do you water?

And is your soil similar to mine - 'non-water retentive silt' is what I'd call it - ?

I am now watering only once a day. And that is chinese cabbage, bok choy, cabbage (seedlings) mainly. And some left over climbing beans and a grosse lisse tomato.

Today I spread pea straw mulch. Cut it up with the lawn mower first.

I will try to stay my hand...
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Re: Mulch now for winter or not?

Postby lucylu » Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:34 pm

Our 'soil' is sand. I'd say it is fairly similar to yours but probably a little more nutrient poor and a little less water retentive. In the height of summer I water once a day... but I don't grow things like lettuce as I said. I do grow strawberries, tomatoes, chillis, capsicums, cucumbers, melons, silverbeet, root veg and herbs, blue berries, young berries, passionfruit. I water less now as it's cooler and it actually rained last week.

I can get away with watering my lawn (new buffalo variety) twice a week except when it is over 38 for days and days - then I give it 3 times a week.

The soil is generally dry on top and damp at the finger tip before watering. The plants generally wilt during the heat of the day then perk up in the late afternoon when it cools. If I watered when they looked wilted I would have the retic on non-stop! :lol:
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Re: Mulch now for winter or not?

Postby abrogard » Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:02 pm

Okay, well that's very interesting indeed. Worse soil than mine you reckon? Yet at the height of summer you only water once a day!

And damp at the finger tip. That's very useful information for me, as you can imagine. There's a world of difference between dry sand at the top 25mm and moisture, dampness, in that top 25mm.

I am watering when it is damp from about 5 or 10 mil down. By looks of things far too often.

Apart from the berries (which I must look into) I grow about the same as yourself - plus a lettuce kind of thing of which we got 40 seedlings donated. Has pale green leaves reaching up the way silverbeet does. It is some kind of oriental favourite. It might need more water I feel.

So okay. Thanks for that. I will try to cut down on the watering.

You know what gets me going? The way they recover when I do water them. The bok choy, the chinese cabbage, the oriental radish I used to have in - seeing them spring up made me think that I must have done the right thing. But I guess, from the sounds of things, it is more natural and 'right' to let them wilt for a while during the heat.

So down to once every two days, maybe? And the 'second knuckle' finger test should be looking for dryness all the way down to the bottom and then a little damp.

I'll try it. Thanks for the help.

:)
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Re: Mulch now for winter or not?

Postby lucylu » Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:43 pm

no, no... i'm not saying what you should or shouldn't do - you will work that out. Market gardeners here water 3 times a day in summer. my friend waters twice a day. more water = more luscious greens and faster growing everything else. i just don't like to use too much water and find i can get away with once a day.

The micro climate can make a big difference too. We have lots of trees around which help reduce the wind, plus most of my veg gets afternoon shade.
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Re: Mulch now for winter or not?

Postby karyn » Sun Apr 08, 2012 8:30 pm

Abro, don't forget wilting is a defense mechanism to reduce the surface area, and therefore reduce water loss.
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Re: Mulch now for winter or not?

Postby gardenlen » Mon Apr 09, 2012 5:16 am

if at the end of a hot day plants rejuvenate by themselves, then they have enough moisture, as said they wilt to conserve moisture, a good water twice a week with a well mulched garden should be heaps, water only the root zones.

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Re: Mulch now for winter or not?

Postby abrogard » Mon Apr 09, 2012 4:21 pm

Well thanks for those last three posts. They pretty well sum up the whole thing for me:

1. No, I'm not blindly following anyone - I am making up my own mind, I see the information I get as grist for the mill and try to digest it, fit it in, understand its implications, and then act upon the totality.

2. Yes, of course, I know it is a defense mechanism, so to speak, an involuntary chemical response to the environment that helps the plant rather than hinders it, hence the mechanism has survived evolution.

But that's not to say to what degree it is defence and to what degree it is harmful. Photosynthesis is curtailed. That's got to be a negative surely? Seems to me a plant with a daily history of wilting will not produce as well as a plant without such a history.

I might be wrong. That's why I ask, that's why I'm in these forums. That's why I'm such an apparently obtuse pest with all my questions.... because I'm trying to find out things I'm not sure about.

And I am, of course, while it all goes on - our conversation - still busy growing my garden and watching what happens.. That is to say I'm experimenting and finding out for myself, too, as well as asking.

3. len's excellent post is the best illustration of where I'm at. Because the advice or the contentions stated are very welcome to me - rules to work by. On first sight.

I've said I'm working towards reducing my watering on the inner conviction that I'm essentially doing too much, quick drying though my soil is.

Well watering twice a week would be lovely. A goal I'm willing to aim for. A step forward for me to have it said like that, so clearly: twice a week is enough, should be enough.

And the other bit: if the plants rejuvenate then they have enough moisture.

So I'm set like a jelly - if the plants get up every evening they're okay and work towards twice a week watering, should be enough.

At first sight I'm so glad to see this because it makes it all so clear.

But then I start my endless double thinking and rethinking and considering...

Like:

How okay are the plants if they get up every evening? They're alive, sure, but how alive? I've read enough already in my mere six months of gardening about plants being stressed and the bad effects upon their growth and their produce. Its almost written on the seed packets sometimes.

And:

Water twice a week should be enough on well mulched gardens - what's 'well mulched', what's ' a garden ' ?

Soil, shade, mulch, plants you're growing, kind of cropping you hope to attain - all tremendous variables aren't they?


So that leaves me uncertain about how good it is to have my plants wilting all afternoon and uncertain as to how attainable a twice weekly watering regime is in my situation.

So there you are. Despite everyone's best intentions and all the excellent help and advice I've got - I'm still riddled with uncertainties.

What will I do?

I will mulch over winter. I've already done it. Chopped pea straw maybe 50mm -80mm thick.

I will try to improve my ground even more. It has had horse manure, compost, top soil and kitchen scraps dug in so far and will continue to get more.

I will let plants wilt to some extent before watering and carefully watch to see if a good watering the day before stops any wilting the following day - when I'm lucky enough to get two or more similar days in a row. But I won't let the thin leafy things such as chinese cabbage get so limp they lay like a strip of green paint on the ground.

Those 'wilters' will get a 'rescue watering'.

The rest of the time I will be trying to institute a regime of two good, deep waterings every week.


Sorry I seem so thick, probably, failing to get the point maybe after being told so often. But I think I'm getting it as well as can be. I think I'm on the right track now with some kind of idea of where I'm reasonably, sensibly aiming for and how to go about it.

I really appreciate folks taking the time to give me a few words of advice. I do. Thanks again.

:)
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