Saturday, June 2, 2012

Drilling Holes for Better Drainage

One thing that I noticed recently was that the square planters I bought at Home Depot did not have sufficient drainage. The only drain hole they had was one very small hole in the very bottom, and you have to remember to remove the little rubber plug before planting. I did drill a few extra holes in the bottom, but the biggest drill bit I had was still fairly small for a drainage hole. I’m pretty sure that’s why the okra looked so unhappy for its first couple of weeks outside (okra likes well-drained soil). 

In general, I like to keep my soil slightly dry (but not dry enough to wilt the plants of course!) rather than slightly soggy. This allows air flow around the roots, which is crucial, as well as nutrients to remain in the soil. If you over-water you’ll notice your plants’ leaves turning yellow. This is usually due to nutrients leaching out of the soil along with the water (a problem you don’t have as often when planting in the ground).

Now that's a drill bit!
I order to improve drainage, I decided to get a bigger drill bit and drill some additional holes into the bottom sides of the planters. The biggest bit my drill could handle was a 3/8'' bit, which was about $5 at the local big box store. As you can see, I drilled 4 holes on each side of the square planter, making 16 holes per pot. I also re-drilled the large black bins, which had pinched the smaller drill holes mostly closed. Now I don’t have to worry so much about drowning the plants’ roots when it rains.
New drill holes(these are easily hidden by putting smaller containers in front of them). And yes, I did clean up the plastic shards after I was done! 

Speaking of soil moisture, I must commend the Sta Green mix for its ability to hold a good deal of moisture. Last week it was in the high 80’s and very sunny and breezy for quite a few days, yet the garden went about 3 days without being watered and the dirt was still a little moist (a 4 or 5 out of 10 on my moisture tester) in most of the larger containers. The smaller ones (especially the marigolds) were dry though, so I just gave everything some water. Mother Nature chipped in with a long soggy rainfall on Friday, so I probably won’t need to water again until the middle of next week or so.

This is an advantage of the larger containers over smaller ones. Less maintenance is needed to keep the plants healthy, since the system has a built in buffer due to the volume of soil being used.

Until next time, happy gardening!

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