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When to water in Missouri

 
steward & bricolagier
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Due to CV-19, my world went weird, so I put in gardens at the rental I live in. I'm having a hard time figuring out when is t he best time to water them.

I moved to MO from the NM desert, I have always had my gardens as tightly planted polycultures, in sunken beds, that I flood irrigated just before sundown to allow the plants to drink all they could before the sun hit them in the morning and evaporated all that was left.

In MO that gives you fungus. The grass is usually wet with dew in the morning, but it burns off quickly. I'm mulching what I can, but having issues obtaining decent mulch, so I'm going to end up having to water these fairly normal rows. When do I do it so the plants do best?

The front garden faces solid south, dries out fast, but full sun and the wind over it. The back main bed has shade in the morning and evening, and stays wetter longer, that one I am hoping to not fungus up. The other back bed is even shadier, but more established, and less problem to water well.

Help? Us desert rats is puzzled!!

 
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What I do is water in the early morning, before the dew has gone. I figure the plants are already wet, and the sun will dry them out almost as fast as it would have dried out the dew anyway. I have to do it this way with my strawberries or the berries will all rot if I do it in the evening and they stay soaked all night.
 
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Hi Pearl,

Skandi hit the nail on the head.  In a humid climate, watering in morning is considered ideal because of mildew and disease.  When you do water, it is generally considered best to water long and deep so as to really get water into the soil.  If you really want to go crazy, you could install a drip system that waters really long and slow and delivers water right to the root zone.

Great that you have at least some mulch, too bad you can’t get more easily.  With that in mind, have you considered grass clippings?  I’m sure you don’t use chemicals on your lawn.  Sometimes I find grass clippings to be the fastest, easiest mulch to utilize.  I live in a climate quite similar to yours and I have dealt with all these issues as well.  Incidentally, I have found that one I have a mulch down I am simply done watering.  Given that I grow in woodchips, I have not watered in several years now.

I hope this helps, and good luck on getting more mulch!

Eric

 
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Pearl, I live where it is most likely like it was when you lived in NM.

I also have a problem knowing when to water.  I can water in the morning and by noon I need to water again.

This would not work for me where I live though it might be appropriate for Mo:

Daron's thread about a quick test:  https://permies.com/t/140738/quick-test-figure-water-plants
 
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Seconding Skandi and Eric. That said, here in my part of Missouri, life often has me watering in less-than-ideal ways, and it's not a catastrophe. I avoid watering at night but often find my watering stretching into mid-day, and it seems like we have enough heat to dry things off still before the fungi set in.
 
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I live in the hot and humid midsouth. I have found that watering after sundown for an hour or so, or after the sun has dipped behind the trees, works well for me. Here, I was warned about the powder mildew risk, but it just isn't a problem for me. It's in my yard, but it stays mostly on the random wild lettuce and dock. I like that everything can soak up the water overnight without so much evaporation. Sometimes when sprinkler watering, during the morning, the leaves have gotten burned. If I time it so that the leaves have time to get dryish before the sun hits them they don't do that.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Thank you all so much!  :D
A secondary question: is good deep mulch with rainwater possibly overwatering it going to cause fungus?
Last year in this yard I couldn't grow even zucchini, due to fungus. I'm REALLY not in the mood to lose plants this year, I'm already so far behind...

That sunny south bed has less chance of fungus, but the plant varieties I care most about are in the back. The front garden is for sharing with the neighbors, I am sticking to things they will recognize. In the back I have the stuff I want, which is more than the familiar squash, melons, green beans, lettuce and tomatoes.

:D

Edit: maybe a tertiary question is: Is there a way to stop mulch from sprouting other than drowning it in water? I'm not getting good results with trying to just wet it and let it sit out, it keeps growing... I'm not managing to have a hot compost pile here. No space/energy.
I solarized a bunch of it, and it didn't work well, grows happily. Which baffles me, I have done that for years in NM. How Long Must I Solarize Seedy Straw?
I moved to MO because I was tired of land I couldn't grow much on due to dry heat and caliche soil. Be careful what you wish for, everything freaking grows here (except the things I want...)
 
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Pearl, I watch a podcast made by folks in Missouri (Living Traditions) who moved there from AZ. They occasionally talk about their farming methods, and said that even to their own surprise they were unable to use mulch or back to Eden because of the weed issues-- they now use black cloth ground cover (and drip irrigation under the cloth).
I haven't had such issues, but my mulch is stuff that does not sprout (shredded sugarcane and the shredded paper bedding from the rabbits).
 
Eric Hanson
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Pearl, what exactly is your mulch sprouting?  Is it going to seed?  A technique I use to keep weeds at bay is to lay some cardboard down on top to smother out weeds.  The cardboard can actually be moved occasionally if you don’t have enough.  Another alternative is a paper layer.  In either case it can be useful to weigh down the layer with some stones, bare earth, woodchips, or just about any weight you want to use.

Eric
 
Matt Mill
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everything freaking grows here



I don't know what you're talking about; pay no attention to this knee-high Bermuda grass I'm standing in. :-p

I haven't had a lot of luck with squash yet here, though fingers crossed for this year. We're going to try pruning and staking our squash (zucchini and other types) per the method in this post: https://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/youve-been-growing-your-zucchini-all-wrong/ I know that dealing with fungal diseases in fruit trees is about airflow, airflow, airflow and I'm hoping it's true for annual veg as well.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Eric Hanson wrote:Pearl, what exactly is your mulch sprouting?  Is it going to seed?  A technique I use to keep weeds at bay is to lay some cardboard down on top to smother out weeds.  The cardboard can actually be moved occasionally if you don’t have enough.  Another alternative is a paper layer.  In either case it can be useful to weigh down the layer with some stones, bare earth, woodchips, or just about any weight you want to use.
Eric


The seeds in the mulch are growing, and the grass that was below them is growing. I cardboard my edges for control, but learned putting down a good cardboard layer blocked the rain water flow badly. Plants put in it took years to start bouncing. They didn't die, but they didn't thrive, and they are types that by all rights should have run amok the first year (elderberries, etc.)

I'm really ending up with crappy mulch. I am thinking about putting an ad up at the farm store that  I want rain damaged hay. Can't be a whole lot worse than what is going on. Maybe if I can get it deeper it will work right.

The main bed that's a problem is the one in the Solarizing Seedy Straw thread above. That is my one for the neighbors, and it's VERY visible, actually lapped my cardboard edging over the road surface. This area has a bad case of the "Immaculately Mowed Lawns!!" bit going on. I'm attempting to not trash the property values at this rental I'm in, there are places for sale on this street. So I need it to look respectable. And that's being an issue.

Just very frustrated this morning.
:D
 
Tereza Okava
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I know this is not your main issue, but since you're being so considerate of your neighbors (which is awesome)- may I suggest sleight of hand? Where things look crummy, put in a distraction. Can you get cheapie marigolds or whatever is your local default grows-like-the-dickens type flower? People will see that and say "ah how cute" instead of focusing on the tangle of weeds.
 
Eric Hanson
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Pearl,

My experience is that mulch alone does not really stop weed/grass growth unless it is extremely deep.  I have at times watered before laying down cardboard covered with mulch.  If you already have cardboard down, it is possible to water through, but the watering is best done light and long.  This will ensure that the water does make its way through the mulch and cardboard layer and into the soil beneath.  A soaker hose can work great for this.

Ultimately, I find that mulch works best when used as both cover and growing medium.  This takes time and if you are not in your forever home, it can be frustrating to start building soil only to abandon it.

I have also found that leafy vegetation can make pretty good mulch, but it will need rapid replacement as it decays.  Comfrey works great for this if you have it.

Other items that can be good are fallen tree leaves.  These can really smother weeds on their own.  Almost any weed not gone to seed (assuming it does not still have roots attached) can make a good mulch.

Pearl, I know what it is like to not have adequate mulch any I had to build mine up over time.  I hope you can get your hands on some more of your own.  

Eric
 
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Pearl, thank you for this thread - I've been trying to figure this out, too! We have the added complications of being in the woods, and on ground so rocky, it doesn't hold the water - it just runs off, between the rocks. We can't keep anything alive that isn't in a pot of some sort. That's the exact opposite of my previous situation, of not being able to keep poked plants alive, and everything I'd put in the ground thriving like crazy! I was very spoiled to the rich, black, loamy soil of the Great Lakes. I even had better luck than this, on the rocky hills, in Kentucky. We do have some beautiful rocks here - if I could just find a nice way to serve them... but, I digress. We don't seem to have any kind of consistent climate, here - just hundreds of little micro-climates - and figuring out when to water (& how to mulch properly for them) has left us with empty cupboards.
 
Pearl Sutton
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On the good end of it, I got 27 tomato plants planted out today, finally! Leaves me about 15 to go, and their dirt isn't ready yet either (which is why theses are so late)
 
Willie Smits increased rainfall 25% in three years by planting trees. Tiny ad:
how do we get more backing of the brk?
https://permies.com/t/145583/backing-brk
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