This is the second year that it looks like my vegetable and flower garden
are doomed. I thought it was only the luck of last year when I had crop
failure and not to happen this year but I was wrong.
The problem if that my transplants which look very good were planted 4 weeks
ago in Pennsylvania. My soil was tested and came back with very acceptable
results for all ranges.
The top leaf photo is of my parsely in a container, there is purple fringing
of the leaves and the parsely is growing extremely slow.
The nice dark geen plant leaves, especially my Marigolds, are now turning a
very pale green and with what looks like a splotchy appearance see the
bottom leaf in the attached photo link. They look sick now and not that
nice healthy green leaf. The top leaves look better but not the nice dark
geen leaf as when they were first transplanted. I have used 10-10-10
fertilizer when I tilled my garden 4 weeks ago and I also included Ironrite
to make sure that there was enough iron in the soil.
All my vegetables and flowers seem to grown very slow and stay small. The
same Lady Luck marigolds would always grow 20-24 inches tall and just as
wide for 20 years. Last year they only grew 10 inches tall and 6 inches
wide. This year looks like the same is going to happen. My tomato plants
grow small and not bushy at all. I tilled in about 10% mushroom soil this
year hoping for a boost. The parsley is in a container with just fresh
potting soil (no mushroom soil), a little 10-10-10, ironite and a little
Dang. Looks like fertilizer burn. I suspect your soil is overloaded
with soluble salts which are osmotically restricting water uptake in
your plants and possibly directly damaging roots. If the soil drains
well, heavy watering will flush out some of these salts and your plants
may improve. If the soil is heavy and drains poorly, heavy watering may
make the plants even sicker. It's easy to run into trouble amending
soil with chemical fertilizers. I would avoid them and use organics
next year. Good luck!
The parsley is in a container so I can flush the soil very easily. This may
be a very good test as if the flush restores the parsley then the salt over
load would look like the cause. I only fertilized very lightly about 4
weeks ago. Rain here in northeast PA has been low, about once a week and
very light. I only water once a week when plants start to droop.
Do you feel that it would be ok to transplant the parsely into new soil in
the container and still be within the growing season or will the
transplanting just stunt the regrow try?
Offhand, looks to me like the parsley might have salt damage and the
marigolds spider mite damage, but that's just a wild guess based on common
things that look like this. There are a lot of "clues" that just
don't show up in a photo.
You need to get some of the affected plants to someone who can really
examine them... plant disease clinic, extension service, master gardeners,
What's the weather been like the last two years? How much water and fertilizer
do you apply a week? How many hours of sun a day on these crops?
Your very best bet for good answers is probably here:
Pay special attention to filling out the forms as well as you can and
selecting good samples.
The weather here in northeastern PA where I live has been what I call pretty
good. I has rained about nce a week approximately 0.5 inches per week. I
water when plants start to droop. The plants receive about 8 hours of
direct sun. I only fertilized very lightly 4 weeks ago when I first
planted. I'm going to see if I can take a few plants to a Penn State
University extension for analysis but I tried than years ago with a tree
disease issue and didn't get too far.
Spider mites do best on stressed plants in low humidity. Most crops need
about 1" of water a week, so you may also be underwatering, as "watering when
the plants start to droop" is likely a bit late, and usually too little
(it takes a long time to get half an inch of water on a plant, by standing
there with the hose -- also longer than most people think with a sprinkler.)
Tree problems can be harder to diagnose than annual problems, just because
trees take so long to die, and conditions they experienced 5-10 years ago
can play into their current condition. Annuals and plants grown as annuals
are much easier.
I'm sending in my samples to the Penn State "CSI". I sure wish that I knew
the head of that service personally so he could visit my veggie patch and
make recommendations. By the way I did go to Penn State for 7 years and
donate a lot to it so maybe they can help me.
When I was in grad school, we used to get samples coming into extension
service that no one had an idea of what it was... we called it "stump the
They included such things as cuttings in plastic bags sent over a long,
warm weekend (just pour 'em out and then try to read the paperwork that
was also sogged out so you could call and ask for another sample), or
questions about a leaf disease, and the sample would be a leafless twig,
or just plain strange stuff, like the objects we finally realized were
what was left of a sycamore ball once the fuzzies blew off, or the
strange little structures that took me several minutes to realize were
the little separating structures from a velvetleaf fruit (that one
was a CSI special, btw, because it came from a murder scene, complete
with a detective who brought it along so we weren't breaking chain of
One of my favorites was the "weed" someone wanted to know how to get
rid of -- turned out to be a threatened wildflower. Luckily, he was
delighted, and Nature Conservancy helped him manage the area with the
But my very favorite was the "mold" growing on someone's bathroom wall.
The mycologists didn't know what it was, but it wasn't a mold... maybe
it was insect eggs? The entomologists said it wasn't insect eggs, maybe
it was bacterial? Bacteriologists said it was cellular, so it wasn't
theirs. Finally wound up with me in the seed lab, and I thought it looked
like really small nettle seeds, but I didn't have an exact match.
What it turned out to be were seeds shot from an artillery plant, in
the nettle family. The folks who sent the sample had one on their windowsill.
Life in extension service can be interesting. ;-)
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