Tropical Fruit Forum - International Tropical Fruit Growers



Author Topic: fully soaking containers when watering  (Read 4298 times)

brian

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 605
    • Pennsylvania (zone 6)
    • View Profile
fully soaking containers when watering
« on: May 07, 2018, 11:41:43 AM »
Yesterday I repotted a few trees that I have in rootmaker roll containers.   I noticed a few had large dry sections, especially close to the bottom.   It appears when I am watering the water is channelling straight through and some parts aren't wetting.  This is the first time I've seen this, and I expect it is because my trees are in a greenhouse now while previously they were exposed to rainfall.   I don't have the patience to slowly water nearly fifty container trees, so I am looking into an automatic drip system.  I soaked the affected trees in a large bucket of water for some time to get them back to normal.

One thing I haven't checked is how the few trees I have in solid plastic (non-rootmaker) containers fared.  It's possible this problem is exacerbated by the rootmaker's many side holes.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2018, 11:43:53 AM by brian »

Millet

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2891
    • Colorado
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2018, 12:33:59 PM »
I have many times set my Root Maker and other containers in a larger bucket over night. to soak, with or without fertilizer..

z_willus_d

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
    • US, CA, Roseville, 9B
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2018, 10:08:33 PM »
I'd think it also depends on the grow medium you're using.  I recently planted seven 5G avocado plants in ~20G RBII expandable container roll pots.  I soaked them well at transplant and gave them a couple inches of pine-needle mulch.  After nearly a month, I still haven't watered the trees again.  The reason is every time I scratch the surface beneath the needles, the soil below appears moist.  I was dropping a lot of avocado leaves, and I had read that wet roots can result in leaf drop.  What I don't know is about how moist the sub-surface, but I would think if the surface is moist, then so too what lies beneath.  Now, I had peat and a fair amount of coco hulls in my mix, so that probably explains the moisture retention.  I was biasing towards more retention because I had read that the perforated RootBuilder containers transpire out more moisture than a solid-walled container.  It might also just be that these Avocado trees are in utter shock and not sucking in any water as yet.

zephian

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 202
    • USA, CA, Yuba City Zone 9B
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2018, 12:43:45 AM »
I've noticed water rolling off root ball to unoccupied soil when I recently replanted in to bigger pots. This leaves dry spot's in the root ball from my experiance. Darn new soil ducks up all my water!!
-Kris

laidbackdood

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 184
    • Perth.Western Australia.
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2018, 08:10:37 AM »
Z willus........avocado hate wet feet.......you need a porous mix and it needs to stay on the dry to medium side......they are even more fussy on that side than citrus......they will drop all their leaves and die if they stay too wet....i have killed plenty like that.

z_willus_d

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
    • US, CA, Roseville, 9B
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2018, 03:23:23 PM »
Z willus........avocado hate wet feet.......you need a porous mix and it needs to stay on the dry to medium side......they are even more fussy on that side than citrus......they will drop all their leaves and die if they stay too wet....i have killed plenty like that.
Hi Laidback, I'm getting pulled in two directions with the water issue.  On the one hand, I read (and view via Youtube vods) that a new avocados requires several deep watering a week.  Established trees of 3-5 years might need one deep watering of ~10-15-gal a week in Spring/Summer.  I see videos that show sad looking trees that apparently weren't watered enough, resulting in heavy leaf loss and lack of vigor and new growth.  Here's an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mpk9-T-JV1c .

In the above example, the point is made that one should be able to grab a handful of the avocado soil, squeeze it, and see that it holds shape (that's the correct amount of wet).  I planted several 5G avocado trees around 6 weeks back in expandable RootBuilderII containers (bottom blocked off from the ground), and when I planted them I gave them all a heavy deep water soaking.  Every day when I check the soil beneath the mulch layer, it feels moist just under the surface (not puddling but moist).  The trees were losing a lot of leaves and the leaves that were flushing out looked haggard and dry.  I decided that the moist soil and root disturbance of the transplant was the cause.  So at least a month went by and I didn't water the pots because every time I checked the grow medium it was moist.  But the trees haven't recovered, and what few leaves that have pushed out still look haggard or fully "dried out."  Check out my pics.  The soil I mixed up has a fair amount of Perlite, some sand, a local high-end soil called Fox Farm Happy Frog, Peat-moss and coco-hulls.  It should be fairly well draining, but it has a good amount of water retention as well, due to the peat and coco.  Its got nearly zero clay in the mix.  I think the soil remained moist because the trees arn't/weren't sucking in any water.  Maybe they're in shock from the transplants.

So I seem to be stuck between two possibilities with respect to the water and these young trees.  Either they are too wet, which seems crazy given they went 5+ weeks without a single watering, or they're too dry.  Both scenarios can lead to a weak tree, leaf drop, drying up terminals and new shoots...  I doubt anyone can sleuth the answer from the posted pics, but feel free to take a stab.  I need a "scientific" or analytical way to assess the situation.  I'm certainly willing to put in the time and effort to maximize the health of these trees.











« Last Edit: May 12, 2018, 03:57:13 PM by z_willus_d »

scottsurf

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 25
    • san diego
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2018, 08:16:31 PM »
migth have put them in too big of containers to start with amenments that hold alot of water peat moss cocunut coir

zephian

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 202
    • USA, CA, Yuba City Zone 9B
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2018, 08:57:20 PM »
My holiday is in 15 gallon, potting mix+cactus mix 50/50 and some worm castings. I water 2-3 times a week currently and it's pushing out a lot of new growth. Just tipped it too. I haven't mulched it yet so it may dry out faster... just for reference since you're so close to me.
-Kris

z_willus_d

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
    • US, CA, Roseville, 9B
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2018, 12:49:18 AM »
Yeah, that last pic in my post is the Holiday.  It looks the worst of the bunch.  You can see the branch (one of only two on the tree) is dying back.  I don't see anything new flushing out.  I think this one may be doomed for a return to the nursery.  It never did look so well, other than the two big bunches of flowers.

z_willus_d

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
    • US, CA, Roseville, 9B
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2018, 12:50:55 AM »
migth have put them in too big of containers to start with amenments that hold alot of water peat moss cocunut coir
I did check for any kind of delineation between the soil within the perimeter of the original 5G pot and the new surrounding medium.  I don't think there's a difference.  Both seem equally moist, to dripping wet, but moist

laidbackdood

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 184
    • Perth.Western Australia.
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2018, 02:16:02 AM »
i live in perth western australia....i recently bought a ferte amd hass from a guy here who grows them in abundance.....seels them in grow bags at the market and has them all over his property..........the one for sale start with some shading as they are prone to sunburn when young.......we get 30  40 C for 8 months of the year.........he uses overhead sprinklers and told me to keep the feeder roots near the surface moist....with lighter waterings....in pots he uses a really free draining mix made of bark........they quite often suggest to make raised beds for avocado so the top area can dry out.......if they become waterlogged....the leaves will shrivel up....because the roots are drowning.....giving the effect that they need water....roots have suffocated........when i went to his house out in the bush a bit.......all his soil is sand.........he showed me some young tree he had planted around his property.........the way i would describe it is this.......go down to your local beach....dig a hole and stick your avo in that,.....then put a small ring of organic mulch around the tree....6 inches out from trunk..............thats what he did......he trees looked amazing.....yes they would need regular watering in the summer .....the water would pass over the roots and drain away quickly but its not just about water.....the water sucks in fresh air as it passes down over the roots and provides the needed o2 for the roots.......but it drains away quickly so the roots dont stay wet for overly long..........the compost that is spread around for mulch....provides nutrients because sand doesnt hold onto nutrients......it provides slow release food that will seep into the soil........the roots will search out to get i.....thereby increasing the rootball size......there is no food over the rootball............in the winter when it rains a lot here.........the water will still drain away quickly and roots will not become waterlogged......avo's like warm too and shade cloth in their first few summers from the scorching sun can help them...............organic slow release food is good for them....mixed with the compost....i do a little every 2 weeks and dont feed in winter.....getting the watering correct with excellent drainage is the key to establishing your avo's........you dont want your mix hanging onto to water with storage crystals of anything like that......get a moisture metre and use that........i check my daily ...water them to saturation and then leave them alone until almost dry......wet feet is your number one enemy for both citrus and avos but esp avo"s.

laidbackdood

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 184
    • Perth.Western Australia.
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2018, 02:26:05 AM »
IMHO twig die back means one of two things=
1....Too wet for too long
2.....Bone dry.
           I have a friend growing a lemon and a lime in wine barrels.......he asked me to check them out for him........the lemon was nearly dead.....lime looked better..........
He had put half a tonne of osmocote slow release in both of them and they had been there a long time.........yet looked in very good condition.....
first thing i did was remove all that osmocote and the top 4 inches of mix...........put some washing up liquid in a bowl and water and poured that over both of them to help with water retention......added from potting mix and mixed in slow release organic fertrilser but just around the outside of the pot....not over the rootball.........watered again with a soil wetter.......checked with meter.......still dry........soil wetter 3 days later.....then again 3 days later..........told him to monitor the moisture levels ...dont keep it wet and never water on consecutive days....let the mix dry out between waterings.........there were not many leaves and lots of twig die back.......pruned all that off.......did the same treatment to lime........because he was never watering.......his slow release was not breaking down and doing its job............now its going nuts and looks like a real lemon tree....his lime is producing flowers as well..........looking very green........get the watering and feeding right and you will get success.

laidbackdood

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 184
    • Perth.Western Australia.
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2018, 02:28:40 AM »
i live in perth western australia....i recently bought a ferte amd hass from a guy here who grows them in abundance.....seels them in grow bags at the market and has them all over his property..........the one for sale start with some shading as they are prone to sunburn when young.......we get 30  40 C for 8 months of the year.........he uses overhead sprinklers and told me to keep the feeder roots near the surface moist....with lighter waterings....in pots he uses a really free draining mix made of bark........they quite often suggest to make raised beds for avocado so the top area can dry out.......if they become waterlogged....the leaves will shrivel up....because the roots are drowning.....giving the effect that they need water....roots have suffocated........when i went to his house out in the bush a bit.......all his soil is sand.........he showed me some young trees he had planted around his property.........the way i would describe it is this.......go down to your local beach....dig a hole and stick your avo in that,.....then put a small ring of organic mulch around the tree....6 inches out from trunk..............thats what he did......he trees looked amazing.....yes they would need regular watering in the summer .....the water would pass over the roots and drain away quickly but its not just about water.....the water sucks in fresh air as it passes down over the roots and provides the needed o2 for the roots.......but it drains away quickly so the roots dont stay wet for overly long..........the compost that is spread around for mulch....provides nutrients because sand doesnt hold onto nutrients......it provides slow release food that will seep into the soil........the roots will search out to get i.....thereby increasing the rootball size......there is no food over the rootball............in the winter when it rains a lot here.........the water will still drain away quickly and roots will not become waterlogged......avo's like warm too and shade cloth in their first few summers from the scorching sun can help them...............organic slow release food is good for them....mixed with the compost....i do a little every 2 weeks and dont feed in winter.....getting the watering correct with excellent drainage is the key to establishing your avo's........you dont want your mix hanging onto to water with storage crystals of anything like that......get a moisture metre and use that........i check my daily ...water them to saturation and then leave them alone until almost dry......wet feet is your number one enemy for both citrus and avos but esp avo"s.

laidbackdood

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 184
    • Perth.Western Australia.
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2018, 02:37:23 AM »
looks too wet to me(esp what the leaves are doing).......get a small stick and disturb the top 2 inches ...rough it up....all over the surface.....this will help encourage the mix to dry....let some air into the mix.......get yourself a moisture metre and test the top 6 inches everyday....you must let the top half of the pot dry out somewhat....Good luck.

laidbackdood

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 184
    • Perth.Western Australia.
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2018, 04:05:37 AM »
here brian......the top picks are of a wet reed avo.....you cant see the moisture meter reading but its on the max(wet) and has been there for a while now.........you can see the brown and curled leaves like yours.......
under that are the feurte .....and hass is the bottom one.........they have all been kept a round moist.......there is the one pic of the moisture meter down about 6 inches and then down to its max and deeper...........both trees kept away from saturation are figuring better.....your mix is holding too much moisture and could go weeks and weeks without drying out....esp as you lose leaves.....less leaves equals less transpiration and therefore need to suck moisture from the mix........its all relative......the peat and coir are the culprits....not needed....Hope that helps mate.
















« Last Edit: May 13, 2018, 04:14:11 AM by laidbackdood »

laidbackdood

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 184
    • Perth.Western Australia.
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2018, 04:14:50 AM »
here brian......the top picks are of a wet reed avo.....you cant see the moisture meter reading but its on the max(wet) and has been there for a while now.........you can see the brown and curled leaves like yours.......
under that are the feurte .....and hass is the bottom one.........they have all been kept a round moist.......there is the one pic of the moisture meter down about 6 inches and then down to its max and deeper...........both trees kept away from saturation are figuring better.....your mix is holding too much moisture and could go weeks and weeks without drying out....esp as you lose leaves.....less leaves equals less transpiration and therefore need to suck moisture from the mix........its all relative......the peat and coir are the culprits....not needed..use the KISS technique...Hope that helps mate.

















laidbackdood

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 184
    • Perth.Western Australia.
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2018, 12:49:53 PM »
Brian... over time your soil will repel water ...hence it traveling down the sides and not wetting properly.....add a few drops of washing liquid(biodegradable) to your watering can (9 litres ) and give your pots a good wash........i believe its called hydrophobic but dont quote me on that......that will make the rootball wet up properly.

z_willus_d

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
    • US, CA, Roseville, 9B
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2018, 03:53:07 PM »
Since my grow medium appears to be too heavily amended for avocado container culture, I'm going to head to the local landscaping supply to grab several bags of DG.  One benefit of using the Expandable RootBuilder container is that I can relatively "easily reopen the roll (cut the four zip-ties) and gain access to the side-walls of each grow medium.  I will remove the media and mix it 50/50 with the DG.  That should significantly cut down the portion of Peat-moss and Coco-hulls in my "soil mixture."  I do have a water meter, and for weeks now it has always ready full wet in these containers, despite my having not watered them through that period.  I surely do hope that un-amending the mixture does the trick.  I've not had this kind of trouble growing Avocado's in containers in the past, though my mixture in the past was likely less PM/CH based.

Thanks for the tips!

Millet

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2891
    • Colorado
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2018, 04:00:11 PM »
Z-willis, i noticed that your medium was a mixture of 5 different ingredients.  Good mediums rarely, if ever, are made up of more than 3 ingredients .

z_willus_d

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
    • US, CA, Roseville, 9B
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2018, 05:59:07 PM »
Z-willis, i noticed that your medium was a mixture of 5 different ingredients.  Good mediums rarely, if ever, are made up of more than 3 ingredients .
Indeed!  And now that I've got my DG, it will be 6 or 7.  You're right.

z_willus_d

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
    • US, CA, Roseville, 9B
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2018, 11:45:26 PM »
I cracked a couple of my RootBuilderII expandable containers earlier to assess the state of the soil, which I had watered day before yesterday for the 2nd time since transplanting the 5G trees (on 3/26/18).  The first container, holding a lamb-hass, didn't appear as water soaked as I expected.  This tree is also the healthiest of seven so planted in and around the same time.  I didn't find much sign of root-rot, but the roots hadn't expanded too far from the original boundary of their 5G pots.  I mixed half of the removed soil with screened-DG, and then re-filled the "repaired" RBII containers.  Here's another benefit of using this type of container system.  It's great that I have the option to redo the soil mix like this -- only costs time and the four tie wraps.  Well, there might be a cost to the health of the plant, in that those exposed roots you see in the pics below were drying out in open air for about 15-20-minutes.  The whole point of the RB containers is that air kills back roots, though I don't know exactly how quickly.

Lamb-Hass:










DG- amended soil-mix:


Lamb-Hass "re-potted" with amended soil and re-attached RBII container:


z_willus_d

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
    • US, CA, Roseville, 9B
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2018, 11:52:31 PM »
Hi Brian (OP)- I hope it doesn't seem that I'm hijacking your thread, but as we're both using RBII container systems and both facing watering problems, it seems my experiences might inform your own (and vise-versa).

As a continuation of my previous post, here are some pics of what I found in my 2nd RBII, which held a Holiday Avocado plant.  You can see how with this plant, the roots never broke free of the 5G pot boundary, and most seem to be long dead.  The soil here was soggier than in the Lamb-Hass above.  Honestly, this tree seems like it has half a root in the grave already.  To try and entice the roots to grow into the new soil, I roughed up the soil around the periphery delineated by the original 5G pot.  This had the effect of tearing up a lot of mostly dead roots.  I believe damaging Avocado roots in this way is a big No-no, but something had to be done to try and wake-up the under of this plant.

I hope it can recover in the end.

Holiday RBII pot cracked open:













« Last Edit: May 13, 2018, 11:54:02 PM by z_willus_d »

laidbackdood

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 184
    • Perth.Western Australia.
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2018, 10:02:30 AM »
Did you mix any slow release fert in with your mix?............I have a theory and i am sticking to it........In the past i mixed slow release ferts in with the mix and over the top of the rootball.......this burnt the roots.......I also tried sprinkling some under the rootball and then a little mix on top of that as well.............a lot of my plants never spread out with their roots......they just got wet and the rootball never grew.......
my method that i use now on all my pots is this=
I dont mix in any ferts at planting/transplanting at all.............I let the tree settle for a couple of weeks and then i rough around the edge of the pot with a stick and sprinkle a small amount of slow release organic fert around the outside of the pot....I do that monthly......
       Its a bit like smelling KFC from a distance to the rootball.........as you water it slowly moves down the side of the pot.........the plant smells it and thinks yummy........give me some of that but it has to walk 3k to get to the store.......roots never get burnt......roots have to search out for the food....rootball expands/more establishment.........if the food is just there or underneath the rootball.........the roots have no motivation to grow out and into your fresh mix..its already there for them.....the number of dead trees i have removed from pots and the roots have never grown out!
       Leave your roots to dry out a bit and when they are good.......you will see some new healthy leaves appear.....let them get going a bit and when you see this new growth.....dont feed then.....or over water then either.........let it recover........once it starts to develop a fair few leaves etc........small amount around the outside of the pot(when it needs to be watered).........the roots will be active and happy ....sucking up stuff when they are not wet !.....thats when you are being kind to your tree.....let it have plenty of time away from being WET.....small monthly feeds around the outside of the pot...is where its at...........all my plants  have improved no end by doing this and the food i give it is awesome.....it makes everything go big and green....good luck buddy. p.s the roots are like a good women.......you need to tease them a bit !
« Last Edit: May 14, 2018, 10:10:22 AM by laidbackdood »

laidbackdood

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 184
    • Perth.Western Australia.
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2018, 10:16:34 AM »
Id get that bloody mulch off as well........its spring time in the usa right? avos like warmth........looking at the bottom pic.......I reckon it can recover if you leave it alone for a while and get that mulch off ......so the sun can heat the mix up.........mulch when temps get hot mate.......no time else.
There has been a lack of oxygen in the roots due to the rootball staying wet for extended periods of time.......its been suffocating my friend.
 when the pot dries out.......it leaves air pockets in the mix so the roots can breathe....its like a human with a bag over its head which has small holes in it....."let the dryness be with you "
« Last Edit: May 14, 2018, 10:23:05 AM by laidbackdood »

z_willus_d

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
    • US, CA, Roseville, 9B
    • View Profile
Re: fully soaking containers when watering
« Reply #24 on: May 14, 2018, 11:18:45 AM »
Hi Dood.  A lot of what you say is how I treat my tomato seedlings.  I only deep water them at transplant, then they go a week or more without water to get the roots thirsty.  When I water again, it isn't directly over the root-ball but further out ~8" from the main trunk held a berm or mote.  Sometimes I don't go to all this trouble, but the times I have the plants have always grown larger and more healthy.  I've pulled out grafted tomato vines at the end of the year with burred crowns and trunk that look like a baseball bat splintered out at both ends.

As for these Avocado trees, I had spread a small amount of Osmocote-Plus over the top of the container soil and root-ball (and beneath the mulch layer), but when I remixed 2 of 7 of the containers yesterday, I'm sure some of that got mixed into the general soil medium, which is unavoidable.  I hope that's not the cause of the fizzled leaves.

I've left the mulch off these two trees, and I can do the same after I remix on the other five.  It seems like for a well established, more mature tree, you should leave the mulch layer intact through the year, so as not to impact the surface feeder roots.

Something I've been thinking about with these 5-plants on the side of my house is drainage.  The container soil should drain well, especially now with all the Perlite and DG.  But when it gets to the bottom of the pot, it will hit 2-3 layers of weed barrier.  The weed barrier is supposed to be water permeable, but I've noticed it drains through extremely slow.  I'm thinking I might get a small diameter stake and poke some holes in the barrier to improve drainage.  The down side of this is that roots from both the avocado trees (if any live) and the more established fruit trees four feet over in the neighbors yard could invade my pots.  This has been a big problem in my yard as far as 30 feet out from the fence.  I have blueberries in pots that have filed because of the roots shooting up from below into the small pot holes.  I need to find a way to block these roots off in the long run, but it's not a task I'm looking forward to facing.

Thanks for all the tips.  I'll keep the mulch off the young trees, perform the DG remix on the remainin 5, continue to leave them un-watered in the center, and then try and water around the pot boundary (possibly rough up the dirt around that area) to try and promote the roots.  What do you think about removing any brown (seemingly rotting) roots I find on the sidewalls of the 5G pots (after removing the old soil mix)?  Has anyone done this when planting out avocados, or is it better to leave the roots dead and alive to be, given root shock on the young Avocado trees is such a problem?

 

Copyright © Tropical Fruit Forum - International Tropical Fruit Growers