RickNC
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Those using raised beds

We made a raised bed for our tomatos this year. Problem I have now is that the soil gets dry so fast. I can water well and then the next day it is dry. I have three inches of straw over it. Is this what happens with raised beds?

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hendi_alex
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How deep are your beds? Are they in contact with the soil? My tomatoes are in the ground and dry out very quickly and have to be watered every day or two if it doesn't rain, but the drying is certainly worse in my raised beds that do not contact the soil. For that reason I don't plant my tomatoes in my many raised beds. You may want to consider running drip irrigation down the bed and placing an emitter at each tomato plant. That tiny trickle of water should make your plants very happy as long as you don't get them overly wet. Combine the drip system with a timer, your plants will be happy and you won't have to worry about the daily watering chore.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
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tiny1
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What is the composition of your soil mix? I have heirlooms in a 10 inch high raised bed. I have about 4 inches of wheat straw as mulch. I used 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 topsoil with some perlite mixed in for drainage. The peat moss helps hold water.
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tedln
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Rick, I grow in four 4'X8' raised beds each year. Two of those beds contain my tomatoes, yellow squash, and peppers. I live in north Texas where it is 102 degrees today. I have to use soaker hoses or I can't keep up with the watering. Each bed has a twenty five foot soaker. Everything is connected to a water hose that is on a timer which waters three times per day. I have to adjust the time for each cycle when it is this hot and then lower it when it cools off in the fall.

Ted
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rainbowgardener
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raised bed tomatoes

I grow my tomatoes in a 4x8' raised bed sitting on concrete and don't have much trouble with it drying out. But it is 2 feet deep and filled with heavy topsoil with a variety of organic material added and mulched heavily over the top. I water deeply (until water starts running out the bottom) a couple times a week (except when we are getting so much rain) and may water a little in between if it's really hot and dry.

cynthia_h
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Last year (my first year using Square Foot Gardening), my cinder-block bed was only 6 inches deep, per Mel Bartholomew's "new and improved" advice, published in 2005.

Need I tell you what happened when temps hit 100-degrees plus last MAY???

Watering twice a day was nowhere near enough. The plants managed not to die, but only *just*...

This year, the bed is deeper, and during our 97-degree weather in April, the plants did very well with daily watering.

My 12-inch deep wooden bed is fine; once a day and no problem when it's hot. Once every other day to every third day is fine during the usual weird Bay Area weather.

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2cents
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I've had raised beds that dry out to fast.
Those have tended to have to fine a mix of organics and manure or that darn bagged top soil I have been scammed into buying :oops: .
I add a little clay to the mix which seems to help hold more water.

tedln
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I built the first two raised beds last year. They held my tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.

[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/IMG_1704.jpg[/img]

This year, I added two more beds for the cucumbers and other veggies.

[img]https://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll308/tedln/IMG_1703.jpg[/img]

Each bed has 30 bags of that dirt in a bag and ten bags of manure in a bag. It grows well, but it does need a lot of water in this heat. Next year I will have six cubic yards of horse manure and sawdust compost to fill them with.

Ted
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RickNC
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Mine are 3'x6' and 10" high. They dirt is a mixture of compost, top soil, black kow, peat, etc. It has a few inches of straw over the dirt. It is sitting in the yard so it is in contact with the dirt.

How often should I water? I have been doing it daily since it has been so hot. I thought about just watering couple times a week but for a few minutes per plant. But then I am not sure if it should be allowed to dry out that much.

tedln
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My raised beds always dry faster than the soil surrounding the beds. I have always believed that gravity simply moves the water down and out of the beds. The plants in the bed are also using the moisture at an increased rate during periods of high temps. If you have a high content of organic materials in the soil, that should help retain moisture. The straw or any mulch on top of the bed will slow evaporation. I'm not aware of a general rule of thumb that can be used to determine frequency of watering. Watch your plants for any sign of stress. If they become over stressed, they start dropping blooms. You simply have to monitor your soil moisture during changing conditions and water as required. I never allow my beds to dry completely.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

bobbyg
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Re: Those using raised beds

I only have raised beds and don't see them dry any faster than the ground. Some of them are open at the bottom and some of them I put weed cloth which I shouldn't have done. Soil is mixture of topsoil, manure, peat moss, perlite, compost and so. All from big box store. It was taking too long to water so finally I put a drip system. So far have to water almost every other day, if too hot (90 deg or so) then daily as some of the new plants needs it. Tomatoes can go with less watering once established.

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