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Too MUCH drainage

Toms, chilies, aubergines and peppers all seem to be doing well in the greenhouse but when I water them the water's just running straight through and I spend an inordinate amount of time re-re-watering. Is it possible I put a bit too much grit in the compost when I potted them up, and is this likely to be a death-knell? Things are growing, we've definitely got various fruits coming and if I'm honest I'm not massively stressed but it will break OH's heart if he doesn't get his chilies!
It's knowing what to do with things that counts - Robert Frost


  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 3,042
    What proportions of compost and grit did you use @Heartinthedirt?  The water retention quality of the compost may be a factor too - some are better than others!  Did you use  one you've used successfully before?  Also, are your plants now potted up to their final pot size or is there another repotting planned?
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,710
    If you're using peat free compost, that's likely to be part of your problem as it doesn't hold water .
  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy Posts: 6,540
    Many of the peat free composts often look very dry on top but are damp underneath. It's worth getting a test Meter that does moisture to check.
    AB Still learning

  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 10,050
    edited May 2022
    My toms did that last year with peat-free compost mixed 50-50 with homemade compost even though they were on a drip irrigation system that applies the water very very slowly. I wouldn't have thought of using grit for them. I ended up putting shallow saucers under the pots to retain a bit of moisture.
    Editing because @Allotment Boy 's post wasn't there before I typed mine - I stick my finger in the compost and if it's dry to that depth shortly after the watering finishes, it's draining like a sieve.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • bertrand-mabelbertrand-mabel Posts: 2,583
    We have noticed that the compost we are using often shows very dry on the top so we water and then find that the seeds/seedlings rot. We are now so much more careful. Agree it could be down to peat free.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,820
    edited May 2022
    Can you stand the pots in saucers?  That way the compost can soak up the water as needed by the plant roots and as long as the saucers are only an inch or so deep you won't be drowning your plants. 
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • We did use peat free, not sure how much grit but wasn't 50/50 and I added perlite because isn't that supposed to help with moisture retention? Most are in their final pots, and we've got them on racks with big trays underneath to catch all the run off, wasn't sure leaving them standing in water was a good idea. This is our first time doing any real growing/gardening and I'll admit to being a bit hap-hazard but I do try to follow the rules 😏 Thanks for the advice, everyone. 
    It's knowing what to do with things that counts - Robert Frost
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,348
    No - Perlite doesn't help with water retention - it's the opposite, which is why it's ideal for seeds and cuttings. If you added that as well as grit, there won't be enough material to hold water. 
    I thin the growing medium is the problem. You could try @Obelixx's suggestion though, because once the medium is completely dried out, it's hard to rehydrate it.
    Some people have found that the peat free compost doesn't hold water well enough. 

    I never used anything but multi purpose compost for my toms when they were in pots. No grit or anything else added. Undercover. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Perlite helps drainage , not water retention, so if you added a bunch of perlite as well as meaningful quantities of grit that would make it quite free draining.
    Kindness is always the right choice.
  • Oh FFS! Thanks @Fairygirl and @Desi_in_London

    It's very hard being a novice, so I'm glad the voices of experience are here to help! I don't know where I got the idea about perlite holding moisture but that certainly explains a lot. All pots now in saucers and trays and all body parts crossed.

    My one hope is that when I did the finger-poke test this morning the soil was damp, so I think some moisture is being retained. 

    It's knowing what to do with things that counts - Robert Frost
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