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First Time Gardener, - Not Doing So Well - In Denver, CO

First Time Gardener - Not doing so well. We rent so I decided to plant the fruits and vegetables in 10 gallon bins and 1 20 gallon. I live in Denver, CO, and it's pretty dry here. The humidity is usually 40-50% at night and as low as 15% during the day. So I was watering them everyday, yet most of my plants were wilting. Someone suggested I might be watering them too much and this can cause wilting. So I drilled 4, 1/2 in holes in each bin, and 8 in the big bin. I did this yesterday and today, so I am still waiting to see if this helps. I did notice the soil was wet that came out of the drill holes. I also took the plants that I planted in their organic pots, I took them out of the pots and replanted it. I used the pot shards and covering for the soil. I will probably get mulch this weekend. The soil on the top was getting really dry, even though 2 inches down is where it was still moist. Does anyone have any suggestions?


Please visit the photos in my profile for a description of the plants current condition.

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well 1st of all you were drowning the plants. those holes are going to help with that big time and it still sounds to me your over watering them, whats the day time temp. mulching will help, those clay pieces not so much. it looks like you have them planted in dirt, which is fine just if you can get your hands on some good compost i would mix a bunch of that in to help the soil. relax, let them recuperate and all should still work out for ya. 

Day time temperature is 70-85 F, but the feel like in this Colorado sun can be 10 degrees hotter.  The soil is Organic Top Soil - Made from sterilized mushroom compost.  The pieces were not clay but the organic pots, I removed from the plants, it feels like thick paper mache.

they are babies so at 85 and 14% you may have to water them daily until they get a more established root system. just try and not over do the watering, they don't need to be flooded everyday. soils good, those pot pieces will break down slowly. with out the drain holes there was issues, you should be fine now and they just need to recuperate and establish there roots, once they get there roots dug in, they will take off.  

Hey there FTG first of all congratulations on getting a garden going!  Secondly I agree with Bob in that you were probably drowning your plants. Drainage is a big deal and you have taken care of that.  When you over water you tend to push the O2 out of the soil and well basically it is like if someone held your head under water.  There are a few gardening factors you have to take into consideration. 1.  What is the Ph. of the soil you are using?  If it is 100% the organic topsoil the company you got it from should be able to help answer that.  2.  Are you using varieties of plants that are adapted to your pH level? We have a very high pH here in Dallas and that is why everyone does raised beds and uses imported soil with a much lower pH.  You can check with your local university Horticulture / Ag. department or with one of the local Master Gardeners (Google these guys) to check the plant's pH requirements.  3. Your mulch should help the soil maintain much of the moisture for you.  Place very young and newly transplanted older plants into indirect sun for a week or so.  Not full shade but where it is shaded from direct sun but still has open sky.The top being dry isn't a really big deal if your roots extend well into the moist areas.  The root zone needs the moisture the top doesn't matter much Unless the top soil is in direct sun, on a new transplant because the temperature of the soil can be rather high especially in containers.  Containers take in the heat from the sides as well as the top which is not true when plants are planted in the ground.  If your containers are made of wood this is a good thing as they do not transfer and store heat as much as let's say pottery type containers.  4. Consider using drip irrigation on a timer a couple of times a day  for a maybe 2 minute duration. You will have to play with this a bit to determine how often and how long.  With a timer you can water when you are at work.  These can also hit the root zone with cooling water during the heat of the day.  

Good luck with this project,

Lance       www.inthezonegardening.com

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