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Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

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Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  happytransplant on 5/27/2013, 12:23 pm

Hi There,
I really hope someone can help. I planted 1 SFG in a 4X4 raised bed using Mel's mix that I had shipped from Phoenix to Chicago, made a cage for it, water with sun warmed water, used exact spacing for plants, etc.

I planted chard, kale, broccoli, and other greens in mid-April and they are just sitting there exactly like they were when transplanted except for some yellowing of the leaves. I had given some to my neighbor who planted them in the ground and they are growing beautifully for him. I also stuck a few plants in the ground that I didn't have room for in the raised bed and they are doing quite well also.

The area gets plenty of sun and when it's too much I cover with shade cloth to protect the plants since they're mainly cool weater plants. There isn't any damage from bugs either. I already added some good quality compost to see if that would help and it hasn't.
What can I do to help my little plant friends? It's very sad to see them doing so poorly...
Thanks for any suggestions you may have,
HappyTransplant (not really at the moment Sad )
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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  camprn on 5/27/2013, 12:27 pm

Sorry you are having less than stellar results. Do you have any room between the top of the Mel's mix and the top of the box? If you do I suggest topdressing with an inch or two of compost, homemade or a blend of store bought. Are you watering well? water a lot? A little? what has your weather been like?

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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  happytransplant on 5/27/2013, 1:04 pm

Thanks for responding so quickly. I do have some room, it's a nine inch box is filled with about 7 inches of Mel's mix.
We've had a good bit of rain so I've only been watering when it's been dry for a few days and have been giving maybe a cupful to each plant.
At first the box was in an area that puddled and I thought perhaps it was too wet so I moved the entire thing, transplanted everything, moved the soil, to a new location that doesn't puddle.
I checked the soil just now and it's moist but not wet. I'm used to working with regular ground soil so I guess I don't know what it's supposed to feel like. Is it possible that I didn't moisten enough when setting it up and maybe the plants are not getting enough water? I did add quite a bit of water to it and mixed it in well before adding each layer of Mel's mix....
Also, the leaves on the broccoli plants and the lettuce, chard, etc are curving in towards the center of the plant. The broccoli I planted in the ground is not doing that and is quite a bit larger as well. The leaves seem to open outward to let the sun in.
BTW, I've never posted on a forum before and couldn't figure out how to get a post started. I saw a "new post" button on here and used it. Is there a button is the other areas that I'm missing? Smile
Thanks for your help,
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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  southern gardener on 5/27/2013, 3:56 pm

We had the same results with the Pre Made mix...I'm assuming that's what you are using?
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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  RoOsTeR on 5/27/2013, 4:37 pm

Southern, do you have any helpful suggestions you'd like to add?

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pre made mix

Post  happytransplant on 5/27/2013, 4:39 pm

Hi Southern Gardener,
Yes, I'm using the pre-made mix, had it shipped 1700 miles thinking it was the very best to use. Disappointing as it is I'm relieved to know that's what it is, I couldn't figure it out.
What did you do to correct the problem?
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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  RoOsTeR on 5/27/2013, 4:43 pm

@happytransplant wrote:Hi Southern Gardener,
Yes, I'm using the pre-made mix, had it shipped 1700 miles thinking it was the very best to use. Disappointing as it is I'm relieved to know that's what it is, I couldn't figure it out.

Are you positive it's the mix? Unless you've had it tested, there could be many other factors involved. Watering could be one of them. Mel's Mix takes an incredible amount of water to wet thoroughly.

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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  southern gardener on 5/27/2013, 4:47 pm

@happytransplant wrote:Hi Southern Gardener,
Yes, I'm using the pre-made mix, had it shipped 1700 miles thinking it was the very best to use. Disappointing as it is I'm relieved to know that's what it is, I couldn't figure it out.
What did you do to correct the problem?

You can PM me if you'd like to know what the correction for us was. I can't be positive that's what your problem is, but it sounds exactly like what we experienced. We are in California...a long way from you so I don't know if it's a problem in your area.
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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  southern gardener on 8/24/2013, 3:40 pm

Hey Happytransplant, did you ever get your garden up and running?
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all good

Post  happytransplant on 8/24/2013, 5:44 pm

Hi There,
My gardens are growing wonderfully now.  First I fed them a kelp solution and then a week or so later added some fertilizer and voila!  Everybody was very happy.  I think it was a nitrogen deficiency but am not sure.
Thanks for asking and hope your gardens are growing splendidly!!!
Sue

p.s.  I started another bed and didn't bother making Mel's mix.  I just picked up some potting soil, manure, and compost and tossed them together.  Planted my fall garden three weeks ago(just seeded the soil)  in this mix and I already have spinach and arugula ready to harvest and carrots, chard, kale, onions, and beets are coming along nicely.
I love the SFG concept but no longer have faith in the particular products.
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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  southern gardener on 8/24/2013, 5:54 pm

Great news! so happy for you. What kind of manure and compost did you use in your new beds? I've heard good things about the kelp solutions. What kind did you use, and how much etc? I love to learn!! Congrats again!!
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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  happytransplant on 8/24/2013, 7:21 pm

I can't remember what kind of manure and compost I used.  Just whatever they happened to have at Home Depot.  I think I was able to find organic compost but not manure.

The kelp I think I got from Johnny's Seeds online several years ago.  It survived several moves and being left out in my greenhouse in the Utah desert for a number of years as well.  I would just mix a tbsp. or two into some hot water until it fully dissolved and then either pour it towards the roots of the plants or spray it on the leaves.  It really helps leafy greens to spray on the leaves, they just love it!!
In this case the plants were so tiny I just applied around the base and within 5 or 6 days the little ones had finally begun to grow - happy days!

Hope this helps - have a fabulous weekend!!
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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  walshevak on 8/24/2013, 9:48 pm

The pre-mixed Mel's Mix has presented problems to some others.  I would venture to say that if you made your own, even using commercial composts and manures, you would have had success.  I am not recommending the pre-mix to people I am helping get a garden started.  

I used the Moo-nure from Lowes plus mushroom and some of the forest products composts, but I added Black Hen which is technically a fertilizer, but is made from composted chicken manure and have had great success.

Kay

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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  jimmy cee on 8/24/2013, 11:35 pm

This has been my first year for SFG, and my success exceeded my greatest expectations.
I do believe the most important factor in this type of gardening is the compost.
Feeling this way from the very start has, I believe attributed to my success.
I know exactly what is going into the compost, also add all goodies that are accessible to me,
even if this takes searching for more and more material.
The 1 item I believe that's helped me along more than any others is the 12 five gallon buckets
of fresh cow manure I added this past spring.
Worms developed from that batch, now I have worms everywhere in both 4 x 4 piles of compost.
I'm enjoying watching my compost develop as much as my garden..
I'd suggest  if your able to get a good start on your compost for next season, you'll have a banner crop.

I did not have enough of compost to start this past spring, I picked up a whole bunch from our local re-cycle plant.
After asking the MGR what was used, he told me leaves, brush, and grass clippings.
I screened all of it and it looked very nice, as I used it I added cow manure (bagged), aged horse manure, chicky doo doo, mushroom manure from last year, and an organic mix that had good reports.
These additives I believe helped me alot
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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  Triciasgarden on 8/25/2013, 12:12 am

Happytransplant I am so glad you were successful!  JimmyCee's suggestions to make your own compost is a great idea if you are able!  He didn't have all the ingredients in the compost he bought but found more than enough of the rest that were exactly what he needed to make his MM great.
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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  batmap on 8/25/2013, 12:48 am

@RoOsTeR wrote:Are you positive it's the mix? Unless you've had it tested, there could be many other factors involved. Watering could be one of them. Mel's Mix takes an incredible amount of water to wet thoroughly.
I agree with RoOsTeR, you may not be watering enough. AFAIK, the above-ground design is supposed to improve drainage... as long as there is enough peat moss (bulk) to allow some oxygen retention in the soil in a properly mixed MM recipe, you likely can not over-water for an above-ground setup. Please correct me if I am wrong here.

Do you have a drip-watering system, use hose, or a cup as you mentioned?
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Re: Help? Followed SFG to a T and plants won't grow

Post  landarch on 8/25/2013, 9:52 am

I bet it's a nutrient problem in the soil mix you are using...I think many beginners have problems with yellowing, stunted plants until they get their Mels Mix "seasoned" with organic fertilizer the first year, then high quality home-made compost (at least 5 types of source material) in following years.
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