Square Foot Gardening Forum

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.


Search
 
 

Display results as :
 

 


Rechercher Advanced Search

Latest topics
» Amaranth
by sanderson Today at 2:45 am

» Live and learn
by sanderson Today at 2:29 am

» CANADIAN REGION: What are you doing December 2016
by Kelejan Today at 12:03 am

» 1st Seed Catalog Arrived :)
by Scorpio Rising Yesterday at 10:42 pm

» Garlic: Freeze, thaw, and heave
by bigdogrock Yesterday at 5:55 pm

» New England, December 2016
by BeetlesPerSqFt Yesterday at 5:52 pm

» TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
by trolleydriver Yesterday at 2:42 pm

» Northern California & Coastal Valleys - What are you doing this month?
by countrynaturals Yesterday at 2:08 pm

» AtlantaMarie's Garden
by countrynaturals Yesterday at 2:04 pm

» Tomato Tuesday 2016
by countrynaturals Yesterday at 2:01 pm

» N&C Midwest: December 2016
by sanderson Yesterday at 1:44 pm

» Mychorrhizae Fungi
by audrey.jeanne.roberts Yesterday at 1:28 pm

» December 2016 Avatar: Show your Winter Season Colors!
by Scorpio Rising 12/3/2016, 11:17 pm

» SFG not giving the results I expected
by No_Such_Reality 12/3/2016, 7:21 pm

» New Member
by trolleydriver 12/3/2016, 4:14 pm

» Mid-Atl - Dec 2016 - Seed Catalog ?
by CapeCoddess 12/3/2016, 12:32 pm

» First season SFG results / lessons learned
by countrynaturals 12/3/2016, 10:36 am

» Mid-South: December 2016
by sanderson 12/3/2016, 3:39 am

» Eat Broccoli Leaves? Brussels Sprouts? Cauliflower?
by sanderson 12/3/2016, 2:55 am

» Winter's Coming!
by sanderson 12/3/2016, 2:53 am

» Dry versus fresh spices to infuse vinegar
by sanderson 12/3/2016, 2:50 am

» 2016 SFG in Brooks, Ga
by sanderson 12/3/2016, 1:28 am

» Holy snow Batman!
by sanderson 12/2/2016, 5:46 pm

» Senseless Banter...
by MrBooker 12/2/2016, 5:17 pm

» Blanching and Freezing Vegetables
by sanderson 12/2/2016, 4:59 pm

» Your Christmas wish list?
by sanderson 12/2/2016, 4:29 pm

» SFG Adventure of a first time gardener in ND
by sanderson 12/2/2016, 4:14 pm

» Second Year SFG in Canada
by trolleydriver 12/2/2016, 2:59 pm

» Fusion Life Brands Power XL pressure cooker
by CapeCoddess 12/2/2016, 2:39 pm

» Asia Region -Showcase of Gardens - Show Us Yours
by sanderson 12/2/2016, 2:14 pm

Google

Search SFG Forum

My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

View previous topic View next topic Go down

My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  66stitches on 6/18/2014, 11:58 am

Hi there, newbie here!

I would love a little assistance and opinion, if I could trouble you for it. To begin, I have done a lot of reading through this site to try and find answers, and often I am able to.  However, at this point, things just look like they're not quite right, and I'm hoping more experience might be able to give me some direction.

I know I was overwatering, and now I'm afraid I'm watering too inconsistently. My box has a plywood bottom and it's not draining as well as I hoped, despite the holes in each square and corner as the book suggests.  I bought a drill bit extender and was considering adding holes in the corner of each square by drilling right down through the dirt - has anyone ever tried this?  Right now, by the time the bottom is dry enough to need more water, the top is dried out and I worry about drying the peat too much.

My immediate concern is that things seem to be stalled and just not improving. Nothing is dead (although I think my peas and basil are beyond help). My peppers, tomatoes, and basil are showing blackening on the leaves.  It began shortly after transplanting (from a nursery) on the tomatoes and peppers, which I thought might have been from putting them out before nights were warm enough or not hardening them off properly.  The peppers stopped showing new blackening, but the tomatoes continued to show it on new growth.  It's only begun on the basil as of two days ago.









My beans are looking ok I think, except for this ugly yellow colour!


I have one exceptional snap pea, and the others are starting to green up once they get hold of the trellis it seems.  The parsely refuses to get that nice shade of parsley green, and some stems have a rust coloured border on the leaves.



My lettuce was doing well but seems to have halted.  This box gets full sun from 9:30AM to sunset - should I shade the lettuce?


And the tomatoes.  They have the blackening leaves, and the lower ones were looking really shabby - just unhappy and yellowish/brownish, so I removed them.  They are a little greener since, (though the picture makes them look a bit more green than they are) but the leaves seem like they should open more and be flat.  Do they look ok?



Carrots seem ok, though some are quicker than others, but I suspect that's normal.


My mel's mix was made with sheep, shrimp, mushroom, fish, and forestry composts, as well as a blended compost that had worm castings, all from big box stores.  They all looked great, black and crumbly.  I fluffed my peat moss, but it was the thing with the wood chips and sticks.  I picked out as much as I could before adding it, but there is some small stuff in there still. I mixed it by measuring with a 5 gallon pail and stirring well in a wheelbarrow before putting it in the box.

I read that the blackening might mean a phosphorus deficiency, and wondered if despite having what I thought was a good mix of composts, maybe there's not enough in there to eat.  I started to compost, but it's not ready.  Yesterday I bought an organic granular tomato and veg fertilizer made from feather meal, bone meal, sulfate of potash, and sulfate of potash magnesium which is 5-7-7.  I haven't used it yet because I didn't want to make things worse, so I posted here first.  I can't find fish emulsion or kelp or seaweed liquid fertilizers here, but I can order them. I bought the other because I thought I should act fast, then I realized it's not fast acting  Wink 

So advice?  Should I drill the drain holes and add the fertilizer?  I wanted to keep things organic but not at the expense of losing my garden.  I have Miracle Gro I've been using in my front flower beds, and if what things need is an immediate boost, I'm not completely opposed to using it.  I just feel like my wait and see approach isn't working, and I will have to do something.  I'm just not sure what.

Help is much appreciated!
Thank you!

66stitches

Female Posts : 24
Join date : 2014-03-28
Age : 36
Location : Huron county, Ontario

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  sanderson on 6/18/2014, 5:10 pm

Stitches,  I'm from sunny, hot California with a long growing season, so don't take any of my advice without hearing from Northern folk!

First, your boxes look great, have grids, and the plants are spaced correctly.  If you are a Newbie, this is your Year of Great Experiments.  Do NOT beat your self up.  Do not pull anything out, yet.  I can't believe how much I learned from my mistakes or lack of gardening knowledge last year!   Embarassed  Embarassed 

Mulch:  A mulch such as wood chips, etc. [I use pine/fir wood chips because I am allergic to Redwood] on top of the MM will help keep it moist between watering.  You won't have to water as much, either.

Splash up: I can't really tell from the photos, but it looks like there is some MM splash up from overhead water.  The mulch will help. When the budget allows, look into a drip irrigation set up.

Plywood bottoms:  It looks like the boxes are set directly on the ground.  The plywood against the soil will rot faster than if it was attached to the bottom of a table top (raised) bed.  It absorbs and holds water, and may (and I emphasize may) be keeping the bottom of the mix too wet.  Plants don't like soggy feet.  You can try drilling more holes or just wait until your next round of planting to change the boxes by replacing the plywood with weed fabric or turn them into raised beds.  Again, with mulch, you will be watering less.  If the soil underneath the boxes does drain good, then there may be a really wet environment in the plywood zone.  (Other subjects with lots of Topics on this Forum)

Blackening leaves:  Just Google the subject matter, like "black leaves tomatoes."  I haven't had this problem and I haven't researched it.  Maybe the wet roots are the problem???

Fertilizer/compost:  In your photos, it looks like the MM has some wood chips.  A home made screening tray with 1/4" hardware cloth [metal screening] will help you sift out a lot of wood chips, rocks, plastic and everything else that ends up in commercially bagged compost and peat moss .   Shocked   Wood chips in MM will use some of the nitrogen while they slowly compost.  It's released back when the composting is finished, but meanwhile it's tied up.  Don't tell anyone, but last year when my plants started to flag and turn pale green and yellow, after a wonderful start, I used Miracle Grow twice!  Half strength.  My first compost wasn't ready for a few weeks.  (This Newbie's first batch).   Compost and "organic fertilizer" are slow release and I needed to do something.

Covering lettuce in the summer:  I'm in Calif. so I don't know about the North.  Here we have to shade it.  Tulle bridal material, shade cloth, sheer curtains, etc.

I hope others offer their take.  Very Happy 

sanderson

Forum Administrator

Female Posts : 12257
Join date : 2013-04-21
Age : 68
Location : Fresno CA Zone 8-9

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Thanks!

Post  66stitches on 6/18/2014, 5:26 pm

Thanks, Sanderson!

I think that the wet might be in the plywood zone, as the box is on a slope and so it sits up off the ground on bricks. I was worried about losing the mix through the holes from reading on here, so I also lined with weed cloth. I think it was overkill.

There is some splash up from a really big rain last week. The kind where you can see sheets of it moving in the wind. I try to be careful to water just the mix, but I'm not perfect at it. And mulch would likely help with that but with all the moisture in there I was afraid to do anything that might keep it more wet.

I think I will try drilling more holes through the dirt to get better drainage. We've had a slow day-long rain here today (haven't watered myself in a week and a half!) so I guess I will wait till it gets a bit drier again to water in some fertilizer and see what happens.

66stitches

Female Posts : 24
Join date : 2014-03-28
Age : 36
Location : Huron county, Ontario

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  66stitches on 6/18/2014, 6:45 pm

Sanderson,

After letting it sink in a bit I think there might be something to the wood chips in the peat eating up the nitrogen... I think I'll try to see if I can get an some seaweed/kelp/fish emulsion in before the bed needs watering again and try that first.

Thanks again for the response. 

66stitches

Female Posts : 24
Join date : 2014-03-28
Age : 36
Location : Huron county, Ontario

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  mollyhespra on 6/18/2014, 10:12 pm

You could also try getting a sample tested to check the pH, nutrient levels, etc.  It does look like a nitrogen deficiency, and a little boost in the meantime can't hurt--just be careful not to overdo it until you know for sure what's *off* or you could end up with lush leaves on those peppers & no fruit.

mollyhespra

Female Posts : 800
Join date : 2012-09-21
Age : 50
Location : Waaaay upstate, NH (zone 4)

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  camprn on 6/18/2014, 11:14 pm

@mollyhespra wrote:You could also try getting a sample tested to check the pH, nutrient levels, etc.  It does look like a nitrogen deficiency, and a little boost in the meantime can't hurt--just be careful not to overdo it until you know for sure what's *off* or you could end up with lush leaves on those peppers & no fruit.
Agreed. Here is a link to a good lab with a short turn around time.
If you made Mel's Mix use  the Greenhouse medium form when submitting your samples.
UMass lab

____________________________

40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

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

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


camprn

Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

Female Posts : 13983
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 54
Location : Keene, NH, USA ~ Zone 5a

View user profile http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-week

Back to top Go down

Re: My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  sanderson on 6/19/2014, 12:21 am

Oh, if the beds are 100% up on bricks, the boxes should be draining fine.  If you drilled 3/4-1" holes and lined with weed fabric, then you did it correctly.  The fabric keeps the MM from washing out the bottom.

You wrote: "I think I will try drilling more holes through the dirt to get better drainage."  By dirt, do you mean the MM in the boxes.  Are the boxes touch dirt on the uphill sides?

At this point I'm thinking a light dose of all purpose fertilizer or good quality manure compost may help.

sanderson

Forum Administrator

Female Posts : 12257
Join date : 2013-04-21
Age : 68
Location : Fresno CA Zone 8-9

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  66stitches on 6/19/2014, 12:59 am

Thanks, guys!

I will look into where I can get a soil test done. I'm in Ontario, Canada and I'm not sure that lab would be an option for me, but I thank you for the suggestion! I'm sure there must be a local option. 

Sorry, by dirt I was referring to the mel's mix. And the box is completely elevated on all sides, just more on the downhill side of the slope. I bought a drill bit extention so I could push the drill bit into the mix to the bottom of the box and add drainage holes by drilling down through the plywood.

But I think you are right about the fertilizer, and I'm going to hold off on the drilling. After the rain today, things are starting to make sense. Everything looks just a bit more green and happy now. I think I've been attributing all of the yellowing and problems to overwatering and having a drainage problem, when in fact there's more going on, and the drainage might be fine. I'm especially leaning this way after your reassurance that I set up the drainage holes and weed fabric correctly.

While I might have been overwatering at first, I don't believe I am now. I think maybe I am low on nutrients and might have been stressing the plants even more by overcompensating and not giving them enough water, after seeing their response to the rain. I will try the compost or fertilizer and let you know what happens.

Thanks again for your help!

66stitches

Female Posts : 24
Join date : 2014-03-28
Age : 36
Location : Huron county, Ontario

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  sanderson on 6/19/2014, 3:09 am

Sounds good.  Remember, if you drill more new holes, the MM will wash out those holes.

sanderson

Forum Administrator

Female Posts : 12257
Join date : 2013-04-21
Age : 68
Location : Fresno CA Zone 8-9

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  66stitches on 6/23/2014, 9:26 am

Thanks everyone! I definitely have a nutrient issue.  By the time I got out to the garden to have a look the next morning, things were looking a lot more distressed, so I felt I needed to act quickly and went with the Miracle Gro half strength.  Things are looking a bit better, a little greener, and my pepper and tomato leaves are flattening out.  This was the most striking contrast:



The cucumbers on the bottom had been planted but hadn't come up yet.  The ones on the top were planted over two weeks before.  I couldn't believe the colour difference!

Here's today's issue.  My tomato leaves are looking better in general, but in the last 24 hours these brown spots have shown up.   Mostly only on the cherry, but the large fruit plant might be starting.  I looked through a bunch of websites to help diagnose tomato problems, and the closest I could find might be bacterial spot?  Or did I burn them?  I only applied the fertilizer to the MM, not on the leaves. (The first picture also shows some blackening at the edges which I believe is from nutrient deficiency, as it has been improving and disappearing slowly since the Miracle Gro)



It is heavier on the bottom leaves, but does appear on newer growth


Other plant, looking better, but maybe a little of the same on the bottom of this leaf?


I read that spider mites shouldn't be detectable as spiders to the naked eye, and these guys are. 


They have been making webs and hanging out on both tomatoes, but mostly this plant. I read that spiders are important for the garden, so I didn't want to blame them, but none of my other plants show this, and these two plants are the only ones that have this brown speckling... coincidence? The only pictures I can find that look like mine are other people looking for answers.

66stitches

Female Posts : 24
Join date : 2014-03-28
Age : 36
Location : Huron county, Ontario

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  Turan on 6/23/2014, 12:15 pm

To me it darkening is a nutrient issue that might not be covered by Miracle Grow.  What is your night temperatures now?  Calcium and Phosphorous are not available to the plants until the soil is warm enough so that purpling of leaves is common in the spring and then fades away as the summer progresses.  As you have other nutrient issues it should not hurt to be preventive and give them some dry milk or bone meal as a calcium/Phosphorous boost.  You want to be ahead on that before it shows as blossom end rot later.

The tiny spider looks like a spider mite.  They do cause stippling on the leaves. Try washing them off the leaves, they like dusty conditions.  If you can avoid it do not use a pesticide, you want its predators population to keep them in bounds. 

I hope that helps.

____________________________

Find more about Weather in Belgrade, MT
Click for weather forecast

Turan

Female Posts : 1999
Join date : 2012-03-29
Location : Gallatin Valley, Montana, Intermountain zone 4

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  camprn on 6/23/2014, 8:09 pm

It's a nutrient deficiency. Either there is no enough OR there is plenty but the plant cannot take it up because of the cool temps or pH or some other factor.

http://www.haifa-group.com/knowledge_center/crop_guides/tomato/plant_nutrition/nutrient_deficiency_symptoms/

My suggestion, send a sample of your growing medium to the lab to determine the problem before randomly adding lots of unnecessary stuff to your garden.
https://soiltest.umass.edu/ Use the greenhouse medium order form.

____________________________

40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

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

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


camprn

Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

Female Posts : 13983
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 54
Location : Keene, NH, USA ~ Zone 5a

View user profile http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-week

Back to top Go down

Re: My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  GWN on 6/25/2014, 12:01 am

I have been on this forum for a few years now and often it seems that first year SFGs have soil deficits.  To make Melsmix requires a combination of composts that it seems likely is different from one place to another
Ultimately, it seems, that the second year is better, and each year after that. The difference year to year is that more compost is added on top each year.

If I were you I would just add more compost, get some compost by the bag, and sprinkle it all over the areas involved
I have a very large garden, and every evening my husband and I go "ON TOUR" we have a look at everything and if any of the plants look a little off, I just add more compost and it fixes everything.  OR if you want to fix something FAST, try liquid fish, or seaweed fertilizer.
It is hard the first year because your compost is not up to speed, that takes awhile.

Not sure if you are in a city, or small town, but when I am stuck for what to use instead of compost, I go into the forest and gather the old rotted stuff under the trees.

The hard thing about gardening is that there is so much to learn, and only so much time before the fall comes and you have to wait another year.

GWN

Posts : 2719
Join date : 2012-01-14
Age : 60
Location : british columbia zone 5a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  Marc Iverson on 6/25/2014, 12:23 am

I agree and would guess that the problem is easy for anyone to encounter, whether SFG'ers or not, because store-bought composts (and other kinds of bought compost) are so regularly second-rate. I'm almost always disappointed by the composts I've bought, and I've bought many different types, when I open the bag. Around here at least ... so much wood! A neighbor went to a composting facility recently and got a truckload of compost that is more like mulch. Full of wood, some really big pieces too. Water it and it hardly moves -- it's too heavy. Her stuff is already looking yellow from lack of nitrogen.

And if it's not too much wood, it's something harder to spot -- way too much peat. Get five composts and there are significant amounts of peat in a few of them, and you're not getting 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat, 1/3 vermiculite in your Mel's Mix -- you may be getting 1/6 compost, 3/6 peat, and 1/3 vermiculite.

Anyway, just ranting, I guess. The idea of a "warrant of merchantability" doesn't seem to apply with any rigor to buying compost -- it's more like "buyer beware." And I'm sure gardeners regularly find themselves bewildered and disappointed because it can be surprisingly difficult to start off with a good, balanced Mel's Mix or regular soil.

Marc Iverson

Male Posts : 3636
Join date : 2013-07-05
Age : 55
Location : SW Oregon

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: My Concerns Are Growing (Newbie, pics)

Post  Sponsored content Today at 3:30 am


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum