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Help! What am I doing wrong?

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Help! What am I doing wrong?

Post  kcunha on 5/22/2012, 4:01 pm

I have one 4x4 box and just started SFG in late Feb. My cherry tomatoes are doing awesome and I have probably already picked 60 from the 3 plants in the same box. The box gets sun pretty much all day and it seems that the growth of the other plants (lettuce, strawberries, dill, cucumber, watermelon, green beans, peas and summer squash) are really slowing down if not stopped completely. Some of the leaves have become yellow and brown crusty dry on the edges too. PS-I am going to get a trellis when I transport these plants in a couple weeks to our new house.

I don't know if I am watering too much (once a day unless it rains) but it has been close to 90 and sunny almost everyday, or not watering enough? Also, I thought the tomatoes are getting huge, are they taking nutrients from the other plants maybe? Or maybe I need to put up a shade cloth so they get less sun (not tomatoes though)? My neighbor who has a more shady SFG has so much more growth than me.

Here are some pictures (I do not understand how to put an image on here very well:(


Thanks for any comments:)

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Re: Help! What am I doing wrong?

Post  cheyannarach on 5/22/2012, 4:09 pm

I would guess more water, I think your strawberries look great though. It has been in the 70's here and I water once a day and sometimes twice. If you are worried about nutrients then you can add a little compost around the plants or water with some compost tea. Lettuce and peas like cool weather so a little shade for them could go along way.

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Re: Help! What am I doing wrong?

Post  camprn on 5/22/2012, 4:54 pm

The tomatoes are looking great as far as I can see. I would suggest some stronger stakes, like oak posts for short fences or surveyors stakes. Clip off the lowermost stems on the tomatoes. Do not clip the top. There are some good videos on Youtube about pruning tomato plants

The beans look like they could use a bit more water and maybe a top dressing of compost.

Are the ends of the squash rotting? It may be they are not getting pollinated. there is more info about this in other threads on the forum or on the web. You can clip off, at the main stem, the older yellowing squash leaves, they are not doing the plant any good and it will look spiffy after you take them off.

Something is having a feast on your chard. Do you have grasshoppers? If you do not find critters eating the chard during the day, go out at night with a flashlight and see what you can see. Once you know who/what is eating the leaf, you can get to the correct treatment.

When you say you are watering, how LONG are you watering? are you using a hose and wand? a soaker hose?


41 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau



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Post  kcunha on 5/22/2012, 5:15 pm

Thanks so much for your replies:) I have been using tap water in a watering can. I usually try to water once in the middle of the day getting the plants and soil wet and a little more because I know it is hot. Maybe I should water more. I am going to try that. What times in the day are best? I also think that our apartment building has started watering the grass at night on Mon, Wed, Fri at night. I think that has been messing things up a little bit? We will be moving soon though.

Do you guys have your plants in some shade? How do you put shade on some plants and not others?

Thanks again for responding!


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Post  CharlesB on 5/22/2012, 5:30 pm

Get yourself a wooden skewer that is 8-10 inches long and stick it in the soil. Leaving it there. Each day If you pull that out and it is dry you need to water. If not, you can hold off a bit. If it is damp, do NOT water.

I agree with the others, a top dressing of compost or some compost tea would be good at this stage of growth. They will be hungry with temps that warm and their size getting bigger.

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Re: Help! What am I doing wrong?

Post  westx on 5/22/2012, 5:40 pm

One thing is don't water in the middle of the day. Water early morning is best but I do mine late afternoon around 5 or 6. I use overhead sprinklers and water for and hour and that give me about 1" of water. I do that every 4-5 days. I will normally dig down by hand 3-4 inches around the plants to see how the soil looks after 3 days and if it is dry that far down then I will water then but normally only need to go every 4-5 days. Also some of my plants weren't doing great at first so I side dress with some blood meal and they really took off. Did that because I didn't have any finished compost at the time.


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Re: Help! What am I doing wrong?

Post  michellentn on 5/22/2012, 5:57 pm

wooden skewer...neat idea! would especially be useful for container gardening. thank you.

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Re: Help! What am I doing wrong?

Post  GloriaG on 5/22/2012, 7:40 pm

Hi kcunha,

I'm near the DFW airport and I've been watering almost (but not quite) daily for a while. Every morning I check soil moisture then, if needed, I water HEAVILY trying to keep the water in the root zone. I avoid wetting the leaves any more than necessary. My experience is that a cup or two of water per plant is not enough in our hot/dry area and water on the leaves acts like a prism magnifying the suns rays and leading to leaf burn, mildew and a whole lot of other bad things.

I checked your local weather and you've had high's in the upper 80's with lows in the mid 60's for over a month, and it looks like you're going into the mid 90's this week. You've also only had half your normal rainfall for May. You probably need quite a lot more water.

A great link is the "Farmer's" weather forecast at: http://www.weather.com/outlook/homeandgarden/garden/monthly/USTX0793?month=0 It gives you a lot of information, including an index of "watering needs" on a scale of 1-10 which is based on temperature, rainfall and ground water conditions. Right now your areas has a watering need of "10 -VERY HIGH".

After struggling for a year and a half to keep 6" beds moist, I made all my beds 10" - 12" deep so they don't dry out so fast. In my opinion, hydrating SFG's works on the same principle as growing things in flower pots, the smaller/shallower beds dry out a lot faster than big/deep beds - so you may want to top off you MM when you re-plant.

I hope this helps. Very Happy


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You guys are so smart!

Post  kcunha on 5/24/2012, 1:04 pm

Thanks so much! I tried today doing a top layer of compost on those plants that needed it. I also am watering in the morning and putting a stick in the ground to see if the soil is moist or not. How can I shade certain plants and not others in the box?

You guys are awesome!

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What am I don't wrong?

Post  GloriaG on 5/24/2012, 1:26 pm

Hi kcunha,

I generally put up covered-wagon style PVC hoops, let the tall stuff stick up between the hoops, and fasten a shade cloth strategically over the tender veggies. I also try to plant tender veggies so the taller/hardier plants will shade them.

It's been my experience that even though a seed packet or seedling pot says "full sun" the plants benefit from a little late afternoon shade in my area.


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Re: Help! What am I doing wrong?

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