I would like a consensus on how to interpret the readings from a Moisture Meter

The thing I seem to have the most difficulty with is watering. How much is enough, and how much is too much. I have purchased the basic $9 Moisture Meter, as suggested on various gardening and fruit growing groups, but am not sure how to interpret the readings. I have more than 20 fruit trees, grapes, and berries both in ground and in containers. All with properly amended soil, heavily mulched, etc., so the soil is always very dark and rich in feel and color. When I insert the meter, it quite often pegs out to WET and past, but if I dig down to the level of the test I feel the soil is definitely what I would call only MOIST, but not what I would consider WET. I would appreciate if the experts here would give your opinions on this subject. Under and over watering can have similar indications (i.e. yellow leaves) and I just cannot tell the difference. (located in the Arizona desert)

I’ve not found those cheap meters to be of much value. Your feel test should serve you better. I too have found the readings to generally be too high.

The soil will only be truly wet in most of AZ right after you water or after a good rain.

To say much more it would help to know your soil texture and depth. Also your elevation. I’m in a similar climate at 4500ft in west Texas.

My elevation is 1500’, in a rural area south of Phoenix. My soil is relatively new construction clean fill, which equates to not the best drainage, but not the worst. No caliche, but hard pack when dry. I have amended according to the knowledgeable fruit tree growers here, and am heavily mulching 4 to 6 inches. I am growing citrus and stone fruits in ground, and banana, carambola & mango in pots in an enclosed patio because we get colder winter temps than the Phoenix area. Potted soil is also as specified by the local growers. As you know, when living in this climate, it is a fine line between under watering or over watering, and any experiment one way or the other can be fatal. Thanks for your help.

You’re a lot hotter than here. So I’d say unless your drainage is poor it’s going to be hard to over water. Same for pots. If the drainage is good it’s hard to over water. Yellowing leaves can also indicate lack of nitrogen esp in pots.

If planted in soil around here fruit trees need a heavy watering about every 7-14 days.

Maybe Eric, amadioranch, will chime in. He’s very near you. Also on facebook at:

Thanks, i really appreciate your input, and the referral to Amadio Ranch. I wasn’t aware of their existence.

I can’t knock moisture meters because they can be a valuable tool initially. They are most helpful for giving me an indication of how often to water in a given season/location/condition. After that I never really use mine. IMO, depending on moisture meters, pH meters, refractometers and such turns gardening into a number chasing game. Then it’s a case of how much damage you can do tinkering with things to reach a magic number. Better to read plant indicators, use your own wits and palate.

Most of the moisture meters, even the cheap ones, come with fairly detailed instruction leaflets. And it looks like you are reading your meter correctly. If the meter says the soil is moist/wet and you dig down and the soil is moist, it’s fair to say that you don’t need to water. :slight_smile:

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