Rapitest Mini Moisture Tester - The cure for Black ThumbsJun 24, 2005 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in GardenThe Bottom Line For its price, this meter works quickly and well. I would highly recommend it for any newbie, especially ones with yellow-leafed plants.
Do you kill your plants with kindness? I do. I have had the curse of black thumbs since my first cactus exploded, way back, when I was just a sprout. Since then, virtually every plant I have touched has died in my tender care.
Whats my problem? Watering.
If some water is good, then more water must be better, right? Thats why my cacti burst, my succulents sag, and my peppers are taking swimming lessons. Honestly, I could over water a swamp cyprus. Of course, periodically I realize my mistake and withhold the watering can. Have the roots dried out yet? I wonder, as the soil bakes to concrete, and the leaves wither and burn in the hot NJ sun.
Thats it with me, feast or famine. I just cant get it right. Even weeds foolish enough to sow themselves in my pots, soon die. No wonder plants scream at my approach, and local nurseries have banned me.
Well no more. I have kicked the habit. I have not drowned a plant for over a week. My once black thumbs have turned a sickly shade of grayish green. Whats my secret? The Rapitest Mini Moisture Tester by Luster Leaf.
I came upon the Rapitest Mini Moisture Tester by chance, at the local garden store. I was immediately attracted to it by its small size and low price. Take the guesswork out of watering, the package said. Simply insert the probe to root level and read the meter. For $6.50, could not resist. I rushed home to test my prize.
Inside the package was a small plastic meter about 3 inches square. Beneath it was a 7.5 inch metal probe about the thickness of car antenna. About an inch from the bottom, the probe has a white ring around it, where all testing goes on. The meter does not require any batteries.
The meter could not be simpler to use. Just insert the probe into the soil about half way between the stem and the edge of the pot. Push it down to about 2/3 of the soil depth and read the meter. The dial has Dry, 1, 2, 3, 4 and Wet written on it in large friendly letters. The back of the package lists about 250 plants, and their correct values. Cacti are a 1, most herbs are a 2, peppers are a 3 and water loving tomatoes are a 4. If the meter reading is below the optimal level for that plant, water it. Thats it - no guessing.
Although I use it mostly in pots, the probe will work just as well in raised beds or garden plots. Just push it down to about root level and read the dial. Remember to clean the probe with a tissue or paper towel between readings, to avoid spreading plant diseases. I check large pots every few days in cool weather, but daily in hot weather. Plants in shallow pots may need checking more often, possibly twice a day in the hot summer sun. What the heck. Go wild. Checking does not hurt the plant, but over/under watering does. Trust me on this.
Since I started using the probe, my garden has surprised me. For example, yesterday afternoon, we had a short but intense thunderstorm. Nothing would need water today, right? Wrong! I have five tomato plants in large pots standing fairly close to each other. To my surprise, three of the five plants needed water. Why two retained water better than the others, I do not know, but they did. Before I got the meter, I would have watered (or not watered) all five.
The only down side of the probe, is that I wish it had listed more plants. Most of the ones listed are ornamentals, while I grow mostly herbs and veggies. I checked the web hoping for a more complete listing, but could not find one. The rabitest.com web site is totally useless. The http://www.lusterleaf.com web site does have some tables, but they are for its more expensive meter which has a 1-10 scale. They do have much better instructions for using the probe that the ones on the back of mine though, so definitely worth a visit. On my travels I did notice a couple of places selling the meter for $4.99, but I also noticed a few asking over $8.00, so perhaps $6.50 was not too bad a deal.
Expert gardeners may do better with a more complex meter, one that checks soil PH, fertilizer levels and/or sunlight as well as moisture. However, for its price this meter works quickly and well. I would highly recommend it for any newbie, especially ones with yellow-leafed plants. Now if it would only stop raining
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