Hello. Quick question here. Scenario is new garden plot, "new" dirt mix.
Vegetable plants in there will remain very small. Some will never grow and
stay the same size for weeks. Some will even produce flowers, even if the
plant size is small. On certain plants, the leaves will "disintegrate".
Any ideas? I am thinking improper nutrients in the soil, or soil too acidic
or something like that. Any info appreciated. CHEERS!
What plants, what zone ar you in, what's your weather been like, are
you watering and how much, have you fertilized and what did you use?
Oh, and how many hours of sunlight does the garden get?
Thank you for your time. Please allow me to answer your questions.
-Plants: carrots, tomatoes, hot pepper plants(worst looking plant), nugget
hops, cascade hops, and other stuff I forget.
The tomatoes are flowering already, but the plants did not grow at all since
planted from another pot. All my attempts at starting tomatoes from seeds
have failed also. The seedlings will stay very small and eventually yellow
and die (or get blown away by the wind).
-Weather has been in the 90's the past 3 days. Before that, high 80s and 3
weeks ago it rained a lot (for 1.5 weeks). This has been refreshing since we
are still in a drought here in Colorado (USA).
-Watering is scheduled on a daily basis using my sprinkler system. I water
enough to cover the whole plots. I am pretty sure watering is fine because
the soil seems wet enough to the touch. Which reminds me to tell you that my
soil has a lot of clay. The radishes in one of my older plots seem to like
that. This year my radishes are twice as big, but half the spicyness (if
that is a clue of some sort). Last year my hot peppers were small but hot
like you would not believe.
Ok, I realize this is a lot of information to dish out. My actual problem
(the one I asked here) is for a new garden plot I have started. Last year, I
only had one plot and some vegetables did well in that new soil mixture,
some didn't. This year, the now one year old plot got natural compost added
to it (I try to make my own). Which brings me to the next point.
-Sunlight: I live in Colorado (mountain time). Plot #1 gets full sun pretty
much all day. One half of Plot #2 (new one) gets full sun only starting at
around noon while the other half gets full sun starting at about 10:00am I
-Fertilization: Nothing this year except natural compost mixed in plot #1.
Plot #2 is new and has "planter's mix" in it, which is apparently half
compost and half good soil. Last year I fertilized my tomatoes with that
pink granule stuff you buy which is specific for tomatoes. I always use half
the recommended dose and study the effects.
Gardening is harder than I thought. As if it wasn't hard enough, earwigs are
destroying my romaine lettuce heads (which used to be doing good in plot#1).
So last night, after dark I wore my headlamp and killed them by hand. One by
one. I refuse to use chemicals. Funny the things I would do for good organic
Again, thanks for your time!
PS: In this message, when I say "I" I really mean myself and my wonderful
wife. Except when I was killing the earwigs by hand, that was all me.
Specifically, compost that hasn't finished composting (very often the
case with the loads of compost you get from city leaf collection
programs) uses nitrogen in its own decomposition process, and doesn't
leave enough for the plants.
Do you mulch any of your plants? We have real hard clay soil here i
Arkansas, besides the summers are real hot and dry. I put newspape
around my plants and put mulch on top. My plants just love th
newspaper. They start growing strong just after putting it down.
don't know why though. I just know it works. Last year when everyon
elses tomatoes died from the heat mine just kept producing and growing
Thanks for the information. No, I do not mulch any of the plants, yet. I
could later in the summer. The reason why I do not do anything of that
nature is because that garden plot doesn't get full sun 100% of the time,
and even in a hot day the soil is still humid that night. Probably because
of the clay mixture. Clay seems to be a mixed blessing. Certain plants love
having their feet wet all day. My point is that I do not know if delaying
evaporation on my soil is a good plan. I'll have to think about this one.
Thanks again for your input!
I guess I could test my soil...
Since no one else addressed this, mildly acidic soil is often prefered
for vegetables, according to experts I know. Poor growth could be due
to countless reasons, but this will be accompanied by other more explicit
symptoms. For instance, in my 100% mulch soil, I get stunted growth. This
is accompanied by chlorosis on the ends of the tomato leaves. Following
the nutrition and disease diagnosis keys, I find a single culprit, iron
deficiency. Rather than adding iron nails to the mulch, I mixed it
equally with the nearly useless clay of my garden, vermiculite and
perhaps 10% sowing and cactus soil. The result was impressive!
Regarding the comment about newspaper, I would imagine the newspaper
would 1) cool down the soil, 2) trap moisture, 3 kill weeds and
4) add some fibre to the soild to change its texture. Newspaper ink
has some drammatic biological effects, mainly toxicity to plants and
perhaps bacteria and fungi.
Hope I have been of some help.
Thanks for your input. Very interesting message. Is there a way for me to
test the iron in my soil? More importantly, can my situation be corrected
since I already have plants in my plot? Thanks again for any information.
Hi Bendit, I think your problem is probably a like of Nitrogen. I am
no expert in plant nutrient, I just have been at it longer than most.
I do not regard fertilizer as a chemical, no more than I would call a
1 a day vitamin a chemical. I do regard Pesticides and Herbicides as
With that said, let me also state I don't think your problem is Iron.
Iron chlorosis is easy detected by a white fringe on some of the
affected foliage. Even then, your plants may not need iron, if your
PH is quite a bit above 7, then your plant looses the ability to use
the iron, even though you add more. It also makes the soil more acid.
Another thing to remember is that all compost is not created equal.
An example of this is if you use Oak leaves in you compost it will not
doubt be acid. If you use wood chips your ph will vary with
different types of wood.
Okey- If I were in your situation, here is what I would do(I think).
Go to your nearest discount store (like Walmart) the swimming pool
supply or gold fish supply section and buy a package of PH test
strips. Then to the bottled water section and buy some Distilled
Water. You might want to go to the plant food section and buy a small
amount of chemical fertilizers. One that is high in Nitrogen, another
that is high in Potash, and another that is high in Phosphorus. (even
if you don't to use these in you garden, you can find which one you
plants respond to and adjust your compost accoringly.
Soil test: Go home and boil some of the distilled water for 5 minutes
(to remove the co2) after the water cools. Place a coffee filter in
a small dish, then place some garden soil into the filter(no organic
matter). With a plastic spoon dip and slowly pour the distilled water
into the soil, continue to do so slowly until after a few minutes the
water will begin to seep through the filter. As soon as there is
enough water to test, use your test strip EXACTLY as instructed on the
package. Pay particular attention to the "read" time, after duncking
the test strip in the water. WALLA! if it is above 8 or below 5 (7
being neutral ) you must correct this problem first.
Now the three chemical fertilizers. (Even if you don't want to use
these in your garden, you can determin what is missing and adjust your
Plant three plants, or if you have three existing plants. Make a
small trench 1" deep in an 8" circle around the plants(measure it!).
Place 1 teaspoon(level) of Nitrogen around one, Place potash around
another and etc. Cover it and water it in. Within less than a week
you will know what is missing.
Sorry for the lengthy post- Rogerx
This poster clearly knows his stuff! Nice response!
I might add to this that the pH will likely change with water content,
and I would think a weak buffer would be helpful if the soil is clay.
Not sure how this is done, really. I am not sure the pH will be very
stable from DI water added to a soil that binds ions tightly. Maybe
waiting a while would help. I see this measurement being very complicated.
Regarding the iron deficiency I posted, I guess you could also try adding
some iron nails in one of the trenches. That made a difference in my
case and soil pH (essentially 100% clay) was slightly acidic.
Greetings! Please allow me to post some progress on my situation. I have
tested the pH and the N-P-K of my soil. I have used an inexpensive test kit
(called RapiTest or something). I am sure that the accuracy of that test
brand can be debated, but in my case it is quite obvious that: my pH is
somewhat ok (6.5 - 7.0) and that I have a big deficiency in N(Nitrogen). In
fact, my soil is totally depleted. I am ok with P(Phosphorus), and for some
reason have lots of K(Potash). Thanks to all that have assisted me! CHEERS!
Excellent to see you are getting this sorted out. Regarding the N
deficiency, does the test detect all forms of N? Some do not.
Along the same lines, I suspected my soil was probably very low on
N to begin with. I decided to grow brown and other beans beside my
desired plants to try to improve the soil during the growing season.
I speculate that the N would increase with the bean growth and
therefore would make more N available as my nearby plants start to
need more. Plants grown next to beans are mainly potato and pumpkin.
Anyone know if this helps or not?
Regarding bean root bacteria and innoculation, I am curious, how do
the bacteria manage to propogate from one year to the next? We pick
the seeds, but we do not pick the roots. Sometimes I find a lot of
rhizoids, other times very few. This gives me the impression that I
should innoculate the seeds every year. I was thinking to just break
up some rhizoids and spread the powder over the seeds for the next
year. Maybe someone could explain. It looks like both me and the
original poster might gain from a response....
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