Improving soil drainage in containers | Container gardening | Urban Gardening, Terrace gardening and Hydroponics

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Improving soil drainage in containers
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Satish
New Delhi
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January 16, 2011 - 10:59 pm
Member Since: November 9, 2010
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While most plants do not do well in a condition termed as "wet feet", some like tomatoes are extremely sensitive. We add sand and/or perlite like materials to the potting mixture to avoid water stagnation. However, I found that even though the water drains well from the potting mixture, it does not drain out fast enough from the container and because of the porous action of the soil mixture there is a 'rising water' effect which keeps the soil in the wet rather wet for a long time. Here is what I have tried to minimise this problem and my tomato plants have reacted very well thereto; Fill the bottom of the container with a 1" to 2" layer (depending on the size of the container) of broken brick pieces. Cover this with a thick layer of dry leaves or grass clippings. Finally fill up the pot with your potting mixture. What you have essentially done here is to create space for the drained water at the bottom of the container till it can drain out and you have also prevented the 'rising water' effect with the layer of dry leaves. It has worked very well for me. May be you might find it equally effective.

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Darkstorm
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March 10, 2011 - 11:41 pm
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This is something, i too have thought of,..... especially since all the soils here are mainly clay types & can be a real pain..affecting some plants more than others.

Satish wrote >>

We add sand and/or perlite like materials to the potting mixture to avoid water stagnation...

some people advise against mixing just sand with clay.. (i've wondered about how far this goes since loam is a mixture of sand & clay soils & is supposed to be pretty good - but with the natural loam soil i guess there is more to it than just being a mixture of sand/clay equation)

no biggie.. but usually it may not be a good idea to add un-composted organic matter like leaves & grass 'in' the soil - but am supposing a few leaves & grass shouldn't be too bad.

- Coco peat helps where drainage is concerned & its easily available (here at least), & there's no prob that i am aware of if its mixed with a clay soil

darkstorm

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Satish
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March 22, 2011 - 12:59 pm
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Hi Darkstorm:

"no biggie.. but usually it may not be a good idea to add un-composted

organic matter like leaves & grass 'in' the soil – but am supposing a

few leaves & grass shouldn't be too bad."

Your concern is valid. But grass "clippings" and dry leaves are widely used as mulching material and found to be very effective too. These eventually provide even nutrition to the host plant. You seem to be worried about infections. For this the ideal 'preventive' is to mix a little Bavistin in the first watering. I think that should take care. However as far as I know fully dried leaves are very unlikely to carry any infections.

For sometime I have been thinking about mixing POLYSTYRENE BEADS (normally used as a buffering to pack sensitive materials) in the potting mix to improve its drainage as well as create some space air. Another that has come to my mind for the same purpose is very small size marble chips or stone chips that are often used in floorings. Anyone having more information on this is requested to please provide the guidance. Regards.

Satish

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