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Four months in, need advice

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Four months in, need advice

Post  toledobend on 6/6/2012, 1:13 pm

I live in Louisiana (zone 8b). I need a little advice. Started my first garden in February. We definately had a warmer late winter/early spring than normal. Had some success and mostly some failure. I have a 4' x 13' garden. I did everything by the book when I mixed each batch of the MM: 4 cubic feet Vermiculite, 2 cubic feet compressed Peat (fluffed up), and since six 5 gallon buckets equals 4 cubic feet, I had 4 buckets of different bagged compost and 2 buckets of my own home made compost . Since my full sun area is subject to flooding about 4 inches for 2 or 3 weeks every couple of years (I live on a lake) I went 2 high with cinder blocks. The first 8 inches is masonary sand, then I topped it off with 7 inches of MM. In case of "the flood" I can still get there with rubber boots and hopefully it won't adversely affect the garden. I saturated the MM every 2 inches when filing up the bed.

I planted some lettuces and arugula which I think did pretty well (pulled them when they bolted). My spinach (my biggest disappoinment), transplanted and by seed (2 squares each) barely did any thing. The leaves never grew larger than half of a dollar bill, most were smaller,and sometimes had dry brown spots. I planted some transplant Brussel sprouts (still growing in the garden) and some are tiny right next to some small ones (compared to my neighbors: see below). My cabbages (3) each have heads a little larger than a baseball (we already picked one). The heads on the brocholi were about silver dollar size. I cut those and are still getting quater to silver dollar sized florets. My carrots (one square) are still small (four months later). My tomatos (4 squares on the north end, transplanted in March) seem to be doing pretty well and are producing. My square of red potatos produced a little. Peppers (March) started slow but are just starting produce. My one square of transplanted cantelope seems to be thriving (no fruit yet but lots of flowers and maybe some nubs).

Is there some clue why the cabbages, brocholi, and brussel sprouts, carrots, and spinach did so poorly and the tomatos, cantelope, lettuce, and peppers seem to be doing okay? I originally used a cup to water (per the "book") but switched to the hose so there may have been a watering issue in the beginning.

As a comparison, my neighbor built a raised "row" garden in a quite shady spot using a compost mix from the nursery. The transplants we gave him, the cabbages and brussel sprouts are huge compared to mine. He did fertilize his but other than that, and the lower amount of sun, why are his same plants thriving? All my cabbages and brussel sprouts fit in its square. His have a diameter of about 2 feet.

Maybe my plants got stunted due to lack of water, but they have been getting plenty of water for 2-3 months. Please help. I really want to grow some spinach this fall.


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Re: Four months in, need advice

Post  toledobend on 6/6/2012, 1:27 pm

One thing I forgot to mention. We live on the north shore of a large cove on a lake with a lot of south wind. The garden is subject to a lot of wind since there is no wind break for about a third of a mile. Would this be a contributing factor to my problems?


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Re: Four months in, need advice

Post  Lindacol on 6/6/2012, 1:51 pm

All of the crops you mentioned as not doing well are cool weather veggies. So the temperature and amount of sun and possibly the watering probably all influensed them. You might want to check in your regional forum for info for your area.

Last edited by Lindacol on 6/6/2012, 1:53 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : addition)


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Re: Four months in, need advice

Post  elliephant on 6/6/2012, 2:04 pm

Cabbages and brussel sprouts are definitely benefiting from your neighbor's shade. I'm in my 3rd year with SFG and I'm just now finally giving my plants enough water and I can see a big difference. I always thought I was, and then realized I wasn't, then thought I was, then realized I wasn't. Now I have drip irrigation and water the heck out of my plants. Not sure what your weather is, but we're firmly into the high 70s for a low and mid to high 90s as a high and will be there until September, barring any hurricane activity. Plants need a LOT of water under those conditions.

It sounds like your "spring" type crops didn't do so well and your summer crops are doing well. That says weather and water to me. You may try again with the "spring" crops in the fall. I find that we get too short of a window in the spring, but many of those can be put in during the heat of the summer (with plenty of water) for their initial growth, then produce in the cool of fall. Spinach, however, does not like the heat AT ALL. Look at the germination chart in the book. Spinach is in a class of it's own as far as not germinating if it gets the least bit warm. I know you did transplants, but it shows you just how much spinach does not want heat. Maybe a late fall/early winter crop?

Peppers take longer to produce than tomatoes, so that's fine. Melons take a while to set fruit; I was about giving up on mine, knowing I'd planted them late for my area, but just yesterday I suddenly found 3 babies.

Oh, and wind definitely dries out plants and makes them want even more water.

Hope that helps!


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Re: Four months in, need advice

Post  toledobend on 6/6/2012, 4:39 pm

Thanks, and though I have been reading the forum posts for over a month, I never scrolled down far enough to see the regional forums. OOPS


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Re: Four months in, need advice

Post  Unmutual on 6/6/2012, 6:14 pm

Hello fellow Louisianian! New MM seems to be a little finicky sometimes, it will improve with age. I tried Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spinach and broccoli my first year and the same thing happened. Year two, and seeds from the same packets grew rather well.


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Re: Four months in, need advice

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