So runoff or no runoff? When we’re talking about drain waste gardens, it’s definitely better if we have in general a fast draining medium that allows for runoff.
If we have a medium that grains quickly, so we can saturate it to the point that we get runoff, not only can we test the parts per million of that runoff, but we know we have the maximum amount of water in that root zone. We are not in danger of overwatering because we have a fast-draining medium that’s going to dry out quickly.
If we do not have a fast-draining medium that we cannot get runoff out of, we are definitely in danger of overwatering. In that scenario, it becomes crucial that we actually lift our pots to feel the weight of the water that’s in them and not water them until they are actually dry.
But keep in mind there is no displacement of liquid. When we water until we get runoff, we are actually displacing salts that were building up in that root zone. It is absolutely ideal. What we want to do if we don’t get runoff, then we’re feeding a little bit all the time, putting a little bit of water in there all the time unless we’re being diligent enough to dry them off completely. But in general, people are essentially putting a little bit of water in there all the time. Now we call this overwatering.
What we really want is to teach the plants to drink a lot of water, so we want this medium to go wet, dry, wet, dry. We want to soak it until we get runoff and then we want it to dry out. The way that roots grow is they reach for water. If that medium does not dry out almost completely, then the roots are not growing to their maximum capacity. While the plant is establishing and busting out its root mass, we want that medium to go wet, dry, wet, dry as fast as possible. The faster this happens, the faster the root mass is going to grow, the greater the rate of metabolism that’s going to be established, the more water your plant is going to learn to drink, and the more food it’s going to learn to eat.
When we do get into the mature stages of the flowering process like fourth, fifth week, we can definitely water a little more freely. We don’t want our plant to experience water deficit at this time. It’s very important, and we don’t need to be quite as concerned about overwatering at this time.
However, keep in mind while your plant is establishing its root mass, it is ideal to get runoff. It is ideal if we go wet dry as fast as possible. In general, in drain waste mediums, you want to have a very fast-draining medium that corresponds to your plant size one gallon of medium to one foot of plant material.
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