Ask a Question forum: Deep rooting

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Wyoming (Zone 4a)
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Ape_Goblin
Jan 18, 2018 5:03 PM CST
How can I promote deep rooting in my annual vegetables? I'd like to keep my water usage down, and production up on things like sunflower, squash, amaranth, beans etc to store all winter. If I can just get that tap root to follow down a few feet in the spring on all my plants it could save me a literal ton of water in the summer, which would be good for both me and the environment
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
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ZenMan
Jan 18, 2018 5:57 PM CST
Ape_Goblin said:How can I promote deep rooting in my annual vegetables?


One approach would be extra deep aeration and loosening of the soil structure, all the way to the subsoil, and even somewhat deeper.

https://meadowcreature.com/bro...

ZM (not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)



Wyoming (Zone 4a)
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Ape_Goblin
Jan 18, 2018 6:19 PM CST
I have a welder, so I think I'll be building my own broadfork at that price. What about burying a vertical pipe, and watering through it?
[Last edited by Ape_Goblin - Jan 18, 2018 6:19 PM (+)]
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Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jan 18, 2018 6:21 PM CST
You could bury some ollas to supply water closer to the roots.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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ctcarol
Jan 18, 2018 8:49 PM CST
I did the vertical pipe for a strawberry pot that worked fairly well. I drilled holes in the 2" pvc pipe, capped the bottom so water would be distributed evenly. Make sure you don't block the drain hole with the capped pipe.
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
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Leftwood
Jan 19, 2018 12:43 PM CST
The limiting factor is oxygen availability. The better aerated the soil is (opposite of compacted), the more air is in the soil, and thus, oxygen. Keep the soil loose by incorporating soil amendments, and try not to walk on the soil, as that will compact it. A good option is to use a wood plank on top of the soil to walk on.
Wyoming (Zone 4a)
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Ape_Goblin
Jan 20, 2018 1:23 PM CST
I built raised walkways in my garden last year, but my dirt was so clay heavy and over tilled that just watering was enough to compact it
[Last edited by Ape_Goblin - Jan 20, 2018 1:24 PM (+)]
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Name: Evelyn
Northern CA Sierra foothills - (Zone 8a)
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evelyninthegarden
Jan 20, 2018 3:38 PM CST
Have you tried digging deep holes and incorporating compost and other ingredients in order to aerate the soil?
Wyoming (Zone 4a)
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Ape_Goblin
Jan 20, 2018 5:40 PM CST
Yeah, I buried like 300lbs or so of wood in a 5foot by 10foot area last summer, and I've been piling all my compostables on it since, along with leaves I raked up from other people's yards & grounds from Starbucks. I'm excited to see how that bed does, but also REALLY scared that the morning glories will just root into the center of the logs and completely take it over. They are a menace
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Leftwood
Jan 20, 2018 8:41 PM CST
Tilling or digging clay that was too moist is likely your biggest problem. It is incredibly easy to destroy the soil structure of clay. You will read over and over again that mixing sand with clay produces soil as hard a cement. This is just silliness. What is actually happening is they dig the sand in when the clay is too moist, thinking the sand will help dry it out. Sand can help with drainage, but it will not dry out a wet soil. What they really do is destroy the clay soil structure by working the soil when they should be leaving it alone. The clay turns to a slippery slimy mess before it turns to "cement", and they blame it on the sand.

If those are the wild morning glories that grow from tubers in the ground, then yes, you will need to get rid of them.

I think probably the best thing to do is not to try to change the native soil there, but build a good soil bed on top of the existing soil. Incorporate only a small percentage of the native soil into your new bed, say, 10%. Really, changing the native clay soil will take years of constantly adding your compost amendments, and you can never stop, or it will return to mostly clay. If you have lots of wood around, look at hugelkultur as an option.
Wyoming (Zone 4a)
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Ape_Goblin
Jan 20, 2018 9:28 PM CST
Yeah, after doing a bit of research and comparison on my own, I think I'm going completely no till. I'm hoping I can find a place to plant a lot of Gray alder, as a pioneer species to a food forest but also because they could provide me with loads of organic matter for amending any plot I might have access to.
Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
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Zuni
Jan 25, 2018 12:11 AM CST
Another trick for helping with water usage, is to create a gravity flow drip irrigation system - which is way easier than it sounds.

What I did last year for a community bed I had - I got two of the 5 gallon orange home depot buckets.

I put one on top of the other.

The bottom one was just filled with water.

The upper one - I drilled a hole about 3 inches from the bottom.

I inserted a "bulkhead" fitting that I got from Home Depot for cheap. The cheapest way to do this I found, was to use a water-tight electrical fitting like this:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/1-...

You push it through the hole you made in the bucket. One side just lets water flow out, the other side is threaded, so you can attach a hose fitting.

Then, I screwed in a hose fitting that had a shut-off valve. Like this:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Me...

Then, I attached some drip tubing to it. Something like this:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/DI...

There might have been another attachment I'm forgetting, but you could figure that out or ask at the hardware store. It's been a couple years since I did this. But, as you can see, it's really cheap to do.

Then, I laid the drip hose around my raised garden plot. I had it running across 2 plastic totes that had snow peas in them, then on ground level, I had squash plants. What you do in that case is you first run the tubing over the higher pots, then wrap onto the ground level. Every plant was watered just fine for me when I did this.

Then, I punched holes in the drip tubing where my plants were ( I had snow peas and zucchini plants).

Then, all I had to do was fill up top 5 gallon bucket with water. I also added Miracle Grow to the water.

The tubing was lower down than the spigot, so gravity would slowly drip irrigate the plants. And all I had to do was fill the top bucket. As I said, the bottom bucket was filled with water just to hold it in place. The upper bucket just fit on top of the lower one nicely, and that's the one I'd fill with water.

It just works famously. I even used a large water tank that sat above my air stream trailer on property when I first bought it, and had gravity feed in my trailer under the same principle.

I plan on using the same system on my balcony this summer. You still have to fill the tank, but you can add fertilizer to the tank, and you just have to fill the tank instead of worrying about all of your separate pots. Works great.
[Last edited by Zuni - Jan 25, 2018 12:24 AM (+)]
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Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Leftwood
Jan 25, 2018 10:17 AM CST
That's surely a way to save water, compared to overhead sprinkling, but I don't see how it would encourage a deeper root system.

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