Gap of Death?!?! Gah! Sounds terrifying, right? Well, we are here to fix it!!
What It Is
The Gap of Death happens when soil becomes so dried out that it shrinks together, leaving a gap between the soil and the inside edge of the planter.
Why It's Bad
When soil becomes hydrophobic, it instantly rejects water. This causes the water to run along the surface, down the Gap of Death and out the drainage hole. The roots never even stand a chance of getting water.
Like a sponge that shrinks, the soil becomes compacted and hard when it dries out. When this happens, the soil becomes hydrophobic and actually repels water. See what's happening here?!?
How to Fix It
If you've got a Gap of Death, the fix is easy. You've got to force the water and the soil to be together until the soil gives in! This happens by containing the water around the soil. It can be done in a planter, bowl, sink, or bathtub.
When you do this, you'll notice that the entire clump of soil will float to the top of the water. You can hold it in the water or just let it float. It will sink as it starts to absorb the water in the container.
Let the soil soak for 30+ minutes. When its rehydrated, the soil won't be compact anymore and the roots can receive water again!