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Palmfarmer

"flooding" a palm tree when watering

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Palmfarmer

Hey i have 3 palms standing in some pretty compact soil so it takes ages for the water to penetrate the soil. what i did is build up a circle around the trees using soil so i can just pour all of the water the plant needs straight into there and be done with it. Is this bad in any way? These are some realtivly small Canariensis or normal date palm, a robelini and a filibusta by the way.  Watering once per week.  I have seen the county do the excact thing but on bigger specimens. 

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Palmfarmer

So they Will have water standing an hour or so 2 inches up the trunk 

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Tyrone

Should be fine. I put basins around many of my palms. They love it.

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Bill H2DB

  Have you tried a small amount of detergent added to the water ?

I have area with " repello " soil , where the water will bead up and if it has dried excessively , will lay there on the surface

for an hour or more .  A little dish detergent acts as a wetting agent , and speeds the process up quite a lot .

 My soil is purely sand , and I note that yours is   compacted  .   Worth a try anyway .

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Palmfarmer
10 hours ago, Bill H2DB said:

  Have you tried a small amount of detergent added to the water ?

I have area with " repello " soil , where the water will bead up and if it has dried excessively , will lay there on the surface

for an hour or more .  A little dish detergent acts as a wetting agent , and speeds the process up quite a lot .

 My soil is purely sand , and I note that yours is   compacted  .   Worth a try anyway .

thanks. yes i wil try that 

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sonoranfans

Adding the water all at once in compact soil leads to a wide wet spot but shallow wetting depth since water will move even faster through the berm than the conpacted soil underneath.  Basically, the faster you add water the wider and more shallow the root wetting zone.  When I had compacted soil I used drip irrigation and I dug up the soil to see the wetting depth and it was consistent with what the drip irrigation folks say, slower application longer watering event waters more deeply in low drainage soil.   Berming will help, but the wetting profile will still be more shallow and wider, meaning it dries out faster and that deep roots arent supported with a wet/dry cycle.  I used to run drippers in arizona clay soil for 4-5 hrs to get depth of watering for feeding deep roots of say a bismarckia.  Some species will be seriously stunted if they dont get that deep watering/dry cycle.   I typically used (2 to 3) 2 gallon per hour drippers so somewhere between 20-25 gallons 2x a week for a young adult palm.   But I generally used groupings of 3-5 palms and overlapped wet zones so the wet zone was shared.                                                                                                                                                                           

And I agree withh the detergent, its a surfactant and should help in compacted soil penetration.  Ideally you would use sodium laurel sulphate(also called sodium dodecyl sulphate, SDS) which is an even better surfactant than detergent(they often put it in detergent for that reason).  I used sodium laurel sulphate to break up really compacted soil in my AZ yard.  Once you do that, add the SLS and break up the soil manually(I used a pick axe), you then add sand and pearlite to keep it from recompacting again.  After a time the roots will take over and ensure the soil isnt too compacted.  But the sand and perlite around the root zone worked well for me to get better deep watering.

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Palmfarmer
3 hours ago, sonoranfans said:

Adding the water all at once in compact soil leads to a wide wet spot but shallow wetting depth since water will move even faster through the berm than the conpacted soil underneath.  Basically, the faster you add water the wider and more shallow the root wetting zone.  When I had compacted soil I used drip irrigation and I dug up the soil to see the wetting depth and it was consistent with what the drip irrigation folks say, slower application longer watering event waters more deeply in low drainage soil.   Berming will help, but the wetting profile will still be more shallow and wider, meaning it dries out faster and that deep roots arent supported with a wet/dry cycle.  I used to run drippers in arizona clay soil for 4-5 hrs to get depth of watering for feeding deep roots of say a bismarckia.  Some species will be seriously stunted if they dont get that deep watering/dry cycle.   I typically used (2 to 3) 2 gallon per hour drippers so somewhere between 20-25 gallons 2x a week for a young adult palm.   But I generally used groupings of 3-5 palms and overlapped wet zones so the wet zone was shared.                                                                                                                                                                           

And I agree withh the detergent, its a surfactant and should help in compacted soil penetration.  Ideally you would use sodium laurel sulphate(also called sodium dodecyl sulphate, SDS) which is an even better surfactant than detergent(they often put it in detergent for that reason).  I used sodium laurel sulphate to break up really compacted soil in my AZ yard.  Once you do that, add the SLS and break up the soil manually(I used a pick axe), you then add sand and pearlite to keep it from recompacting again.  After a time the roots will take over and ensure the soil isnt too compacted.  But the sand and perlite around the root zone worked well for me to get better deep watering.

my moisture meter says 8 out of 10 the day after a normal watering with my tecnique and it goes down around one foot. is this sufficient enough? sounds like your soil was a lot worse than mine.

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sonoranfans

My soil, in places, was probably worse as a small hole 6" deep was difficult to dig and took more than a day to drain.  In your case wetting to a depth of 1 ft is not going to be enough for many palms.  

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Tyrone

The berm will stop surface water runoff. If it doesn’t go down far enough, put more water in. Eventually the soil profile will remain constantly moist and will re wet very easily. Dishwashing liquid will work on the initial application but not afterwards. There are products that claim 6 months of activity. Be careful dumping lots of sodium in the soil too especially if your irrigation water has a bit of salt in it. You could stuff your soil up.

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Palmfarmer
5 hours ago, sonoranfans said:

My soil, in places, was probably worse as a small hole 6" deep was difficult to dig and took more than a day to drain.  In your case wetting to a depth of 1 ft is not going to be enough for many palms.  

definitly i tried filling up a hole i dug out for palm once halfway full with water it was around 2 feet and i filled up 1 feet of water and it drained within 20 minutes, so its the top soil that is the big issue. Anyways yes 1 fot is not sufficient enough for many palms, but i do not now exactly how much longer the water goes down since the moisture meter is only 1 fot long, so i try digging 1 fot around the palm and check out what the meter says at 2 feet.  The species i have in this garbage soil is phoenix robelinii, phoenix canariensis or a normal date palm not sure which one and a wasintonia filabusta.

Edited by Palmfarmer

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branislav

Mulch abundantly (up to 8 inches, if necessary) with wood chips, just keep them away from the trunk. Over time, they will improve your soil. The water retention will help immediately. Everything I've read from specialists says to avoid trying to improve the soil with chemical and short-term measures. Let nature do its thing. As the mulch decomposes, beneficial organisms will move in and start aerating the soil. I had areas with extremely compacted dirt, very hard to dig, and no visible life even near the surface. After mulching for a few years, I can dig without much effort, and there are worms, and all sorts of things in there.

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Tyrone
10 hours ago, branislav said:

Mulch abundantly (up to 8 inches, if necessary) with wood chips, just keep them away from the trunk. Over time, they will improve your soil. The water retention will help immediately. Everything I've read from specialists says to avoid trying to improve the soil with chemical and short-term measures. Let nature do its thing. As the mulch decomposes, beneficial organisms will move in and start aerating the soil. I had areas with extremely compacted dirt, very hard to dig, and no visible life even near the surface. After mulching for a few years, I can dig without much effort, and there are worms, and all sorts of things in there.

You have improved the structure of your soil, which is something only organic additions and beneficial microbes and organisms can do, and should be the aim of any gardener. Just adding chemical ferts and nothing more eventually destroys your soil. It will become crusty, devoid of life, and water repellent. 

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sonoranfans

Listening to your drainage(20 mins) you dont have a serious compacted soil issue.  You might have accumulations of salt(s) that are water repellent.  I'd try the soap, but follow it up with humic acid wetting of the top layer, let it sit and then rinse with a slow trickle.  Humic acid will remove excess salts and metals and you rinse them away.  It also supports the beneficial soil bacteria and provides some immediate chelation that will allow feeding even without a proper soil pH.  I would do  acouple treatments and then re assess where you are.  Humic acid is simply decomposed vegetative material, it is natures way and mulching releases it in time.  But you can buy a gallon of 17% humic acid and it will probably treat your soil for a couple years depending on size of garden.  I used it to grow plants in containers in costal california where salt accumulations make many nurseries use RO or distilled water to irrigate their stock.  Excess fertililizer salts and metals plus hard water is rinsed away without distilled water.

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Palmfarmer
15 hours ago, branislav said:

Mulch abundantly (up to 8 inches, if necessary) with wood chips, just keep them away from the trunk. Over time, they will improve your soil. The water retention will help immediately. Everything I've read from specialists says to avoid trying to improve the soil with chemical and short-term measures. Let nature do its thing. As the mulch decomposes, beneficial organisms will move in and start aerating the soil. I had areas with extremely compacted dirt, very hard to dig, and no visible life even near the surface. After mulching for a few years, I can dig without much effort, and there are worms, and all sorts of things in there.

i mulch around one the palms now with some dried crushed up leafs and hay. i do have some wood chips i can use. its definitly not enough to cover the whole garden but i will lay it thick around the palms with drainage issues. 

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Palmfarmer
13 hours ago, Tyrone said:

You have improved the structure of your soil, which is something only organic additions and beneficial microbes and organisms can do, and should be the aim of any gardener. Just adding chemical ferts and nothing more eventually destroys your soil. It will become crusty, devoid of life, and water repellent. 

I had a ton of wood chips i had completly forgotten about. So i mulched really thick around every palm and fruit tree that is sort of slow drainers. how long does it usually take for worms to appear? i know there are some worms there because the last time i planted a banana palm there was worms in the topsoil something i have never seen before. can i speed up this process by buying worms and putting them arund my garden by the way? 

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Tyrone

The worms will find there way in. Give them organics and they will breed up big time.

Ive got a lot of clay here and you’d think worms can’t get into clay. Ive dug big clods of dry cracking clay up and found worms curled up living in air pockets in the clay, waiting for winter rains. They go everywhere.

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branislav
On 3/6/2020 at 8:36 PM, Palmfarmer said:

I had a ton of wood chips i had completly forgotten about. So i mulched really thick around every palm and fruit tree that is sort of slow drainers. how long does it usually take for worms to appear? i know there are some worms there because the last time i planted a banana palm there was worms in the topsoil something i have never seen before. can i speed up this process by buying worms and putting them arund my garden by the way? 

Don't buy worms. It's a waste of money (like buying ladybugs or beneficial fungi). If there are no worms right now it's because the environment isn't good and the new ones won't like it either so they will all die or get picked up by birds. Once your soil has improved from the mulch, they will show up. Nature has its ways. 

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