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Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

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Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  K5750B on 6/11/2012, 2:40 pm

This year I started my very first square foot garden. On May 5th I planted my tomato, pepper, eggplant and cucumber plants. Over a month has passed and they are about the same size as they were when I planted them. They are not growing or producing anything and they all have a slightly yellow color. I am starting to wonder if I am doing something wrong! My good friend planted her tomatoes, peppers and zucchini's around the same time and she has been eating her veggies now for a couple days and has put minimal effort into her garden. My mom planted her tomatoes two weeks ago and her plants are a beautiful dark green color and have already doubled in size! My soil is a mix of soil, compost, vermiculite and peat moss, I do a deep watering twice a week, I fertilize every two weeks (as directed by the back of the fertilizer bottle) and I seem to be doing everything else by the book so I just don't get it! The plants do have a little bit of insect damage but the only bugs I have seen in this particular bed are spiders and earwigs. Could spiders or earwigs be eating my plants and if so would this stunt their growth? All this has got me to wondering if all my other plants that I started from seed are growing at the right pace too. I planted most of them on April 21st. My carrots, radishes and beets leaves are about 1 inch high with about one or two sets of true leaves. My lettuce heads are about 3 inches wide, my kale and broccoli are about 2 inches high with about two sets of true leaves. My onions sprung right up in the first week or two but have not changed since. My garlic sprung up a little while after the onions but are now shriveled up and dead. I also started cantaloupe and watermelon from seed on May 5th and they are just now developing their first set of true leaves. Any ideas on what is causing my plants growth to be stunted?? Do the plants I started from seed seem to be growing at the right pace?? I'm at the point where I just want to give up and plant all new plants. Please help!


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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  givvmistamps on 6/11/2012, 7:17 pm

I noticed that you mentioned putting soil into your mix...that means you didn't use Mel's recipe exactly, and I wonder if that's why you're having a lack of growth. Mel calls for equal ratios of compost, peat moss and vermiculite only...no soil.

Another problem could be quality issues with your compost, or perhaps you didn't get the 5 different types of compost Mel called for. This is a mistake I've seen frequently here.

I'm sure there could be other factors, but these are what's coming to mind off the top.

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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  floyd1440 on 6/11/2012, 8:03 pm

Last year was my fist attempt with Mel's mixand had simular problems, some good areas and some bad.

In the fall, after I removed all my plants, I dug around my garden I notice I hadn't mixed my Mel's mix properly in some areas so I could only guess that the areas were the peat moss and vermiculite were on the bottom and the compost on top. Natural I remixed everything and added some new compost, a couple of little shovels full each square this spring and things are growing much better.

You may have another proble though....

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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  cheyannarach on 6/11/2012, 10:38 pm

Also you may want to water more, I need to water here at least once a day so it may be your mel's mix isn't saturated, stick your hand down in it andd see if/where it gets dry! Good luck!

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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  K5750B on 6/12/2012, 11:05 am

Ya not mixing it well could definitely be the problem, or at least one of them. I knew from the start I probably didn't mix it as well as I should have. I've got spinach just springing up in some squares and in others it is a month or so behind in growth.

I am sure I water it plenty. It's moist no more than 1 inch down every time I water. I give it a very good DEEP watering twice a week.

I am confused about using only compost. I've had numerous experienced gardeners recommend against it. A good friend of mine who is very familiar with the SFG process and with many other types of gardening is saying maybe the reason this is happening is because I have too much compost in the mix and it is too hot.

Do you think that fertilizing it is overkill? I was told not to do it since I had so much compost in my mix but after I was seeing poor growth I decided to bite the bullet and it seems to really help the leafy greens but it doesn't really seem to be working for any of the plants mentioned in the title.

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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  Gilly21 on 6/12/2012, 11:34 am

I hate to be an antagonist here but your friends are wrong. It is sometimes difficult for people to get over the old school thought of gardening. My MIL is stubborn as an ox and eventhough my garden looks a month ahead of hers she still will not concede that compost only mix is better than soil. We planted within a week of each other, since I gave her my starts and planted them for her I can confirm that. With that being said, people have grown stuff in soil for years without issue. MM is just a better medium for the same end result. I am a novice but have had great success following Mel's plan as close as I could this year. I have had to suppliment with some 10-10-10 in the box with mostly municipal compost, but that is it. My box with near exact MM (missing 1 compost) is growing beans, tomato's, and cuc's. No supplimeted fert. and my mater plants are all 5' or taller and vined as thick as my thumb. I have yet to see any of the traditional gardens around my area even close that growth. Read the ANSFG book and follow the recipe. IT WORKS! You may be going overboard on the fert. I would suggest keep trying new things this year until you see better results and do not just start over. You will learn what is wrong and gain experience over all else. Try top dressing the garden with some chicky doo doo compost from Lowes. Might be a good boost.

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Compost

Post  memart1 on 6/12/2012, 12:00 pm

Don't let your friends fool you. In a way, compost IS soil. Raw manure and composter items that have not finished "cooking" may be too hot for plants, but once it has cooked it is just soil that is rich in nutrients. It is the best thing for your plants. The others probably add liquid chemical fertilizers to boost their soil. But, why do you think Mel says to add a trowel full of your compost mix whenever you replant a square? It's to replace any nutrients your previous planting may have absorbed while growing. Try it, learn what works, and after one or two seasons you can show them up!

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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  No_Such_Reality on 6/12/2012, 12:21 pm

First year mel's mix seems to give a lot of people trouble. If you used commercial compost, they may have too much forest products in it and it's leaching the nitrogen away. It may be the cause of the yellowing.

However, it could just as well be over fertilized. If you're using a balanced fertilizer on an unbalanced soil mix, the stunting will get worse. If you have too much Phosphorus in the mix, the plants put their energy into roots and flower buds.

How exactly the leaves are yellowing will tell you. I find this link helpful for nutrient deficiency. And this link Excess Nutrients

Other's, like myself in the southwest, have problems with underwatering. The peat in the mix is problematic when it is allowed to get dry. However, since you've add soil, it might be retaining too much water. MM is a bit tricky, I thought mine was wet a inch down, sadly what I found was it was wet all the way done in this spot and bone dry below the two inch mark a few inches over.

Right now my beds are a mix. The melons are growing really slow, very small and frustrating. The tomato is doing very well. Something killed off the garlic and my potato although I did get to harvest a double handful of baby white potatoes. the bush beans are frankly, bush mania, the peppers are stunted.

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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  CharlesB on 6/12/2012, 12:35 pm

Some pic's and your watering schedule would be helpful

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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  Turan on 6/12/2012, 12:49 pm

@Gilly21 wrote: I would suggest keep trying new things this year until you see better results and do not just start over. You will learn what is wrong and gain experience over all else. Try top dressing the garden with some chicky doo doo compost from Lowes. Might be a good boost.

+1

Compost is rather a spectrum of various fertility levels from raw manure or grass clippings to peat. Fresh chicken droppings compost would be too hot to grow stuff in but given some time to break down it will be an excellent amendment and then later rich soil itself. And then after much more time it will compost (the verb) all the way to humus. The peat in MM is a certain type of humus. Compost from horse manure with straw and hay was the medium of the intensive market gardens of France. They fed not only France but exported to England. That is the history and tradition that Mel is drawing on.

You seem to be describing a nutrient deficiency compounded by poor mixing. With compost being such a broad spectrum though that can mean what you are using has either composted too far to add much nitrogen to the soil or it could have too much wood that is using the available nitrogen untill it composts further.

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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  GWN on 6/12/2012, 10:57 pm

You are not the first one to describe issues with planting SFG the first year.
I had a huge garden last year with extremely productive tomatoes, peppers zucchinis etc. This year I switched over to Mels Mix.
My garden is WAY behind last year. My tomatoes are puny, my peppers are extremely small.
I keep thinking it is the weather but have gotten reports from neighbours about how well their garden is doing.
I am extremely worried about this, however what I have read about SFG at least on this forum is that the second year is always better, so I have decided to treat my garden like it is the second year and top dress everything with 2 year old manure.
We will see how it goes, but for me, gardening is everything, it is my life and so am not willing to just sit and wait to see what happens.
If I were you I would add a layer of compost to the tops of all of your plants.

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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  landarch on 6/12/2012, 11:21 pm

My first year's Mel's Mix did not do well (stunted, yellowing plants)...I ripped out many cool season plants and amended my Mel's Mix before planting summer veggies...I added better compost, Buffaloam Comost Tea with mycorhizae, transplanted earthworms - about a 1/2 dozen per square, and watered with fish emulsion. Summer veggies are doing great. I think it takes a while for the mix to "season". As an experiment, I kept a couple of my old boxes with non-mels mix and the plants were far ahead of my mels mix boxes. This fall or next year may be a different story.

It is hard to beat our Kansas sandy loam...some of the best soil around.

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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  hruten on 6/13/2012, 7:27 am

First year SFG: My first MM box has produced below expectations too... However, I had leftover compost from my last mixing session and added it to the top of my original box, mixing in between plants. That bed is producing much better now. We have also had quite a bit of rain which has aided in the mixing. After reading this forum every day since February Smile , I learned that I did not really mix my first batch of MM right.

I mixed a second batch of MM with the reccommended amounts of items and a truly diverse compost. The pots/boxes with that mix is growing like gangbusters! This was a very long way of saying that top dressing the "slow" containers is working for me:D

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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  RoOsTeR on 6/13/2012, 7:54 am

It's hard to gauge problems, and what works and what doesn't with so many personal interpretations of what Mel's Mix is or should contain.

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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  K5750B on 6/13/2012, 2:24 pm

No_Such_Reality :

After looking at those charts, I think a nitrogen deficiency is possibly what the plants have, which is weird because the fertilizer I'm using is a nitrogen fertilizer. it is one of those bottles that is a concentrate and you hook it to your hose and water with it. Could it be possible that I'm not watering deep enough with the fertilizer? I have just been giving it a quick soak, just enough to wet the soil and now that I think about it, maybe the fertilizer is not reaching the roots?



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Re: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant & Cucumbers Not Growing

Post  landarch on 6/13/2012, 2:35 pm

@K5750B wrote:No_Such_Reality :

After looking at those charts, I think a nitrogen deficiency is possibly what the plants have, which is weird because the fertilizer I'm using is a nitrogen fertilizer. it is one of those bottles that is a concentrate and you hook it to your hose and water with it. Could it be possible that I'm not watering deep enough with the fertilizer? I have just been giving it a quick soak, just enough to wet the soil and now that I think about it, maybe the fertilizer is not reaching the roots?



mix up some fish emulsion and water by hand if you are short on nitrogen...a soil test through your county extension service may be in order if you can't get it dialed in.

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