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Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

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Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  juliasquirrel on 4/30/2015, 6:37 pm

This is my first time using Mel's Mix, and I am so nervous that either 1. I don't have proper nutrients 2. I didn't mix everything well enough. I just put two, small parsley plants and an oregano plant into my SFG. I also transplanted 2 pepper seedlings with 4 true leaves, and a tomato seedling into a 4-5 inch pot with "Mel's Mix"-- the pepper & tomato seedlings are under grow lights in my house.
I also have many seedlings in transition pots with regular potting mix from the store, and those are doing fine. It is only the plants in Mel's mix that are suffering.  Sad

 Here are the problems I have noticed:
-they don't seem to be growing at all
-very light green leaves (almost yellow) ((I am assuming this is a lack of nitrogen))
leaves are curling upward on EVERY plant in Mel's mix.

Does anyone know exactly what is going on here and what I should do? I purchased espoma's Kelp Meal & Garden Tone. Should I use them since it doesn't seem like I have the proper amount of nutrients? 

Here is some more information about my SFG:
24 cubic feet.
8 cft vermiculite, 8 peat moss, 8 compost 

For compost, I used the following:
2 bags of Black Kow composted manure
1 bag worm castings
2 bags nature's care "really good" compost (which is probably not "really good")
1 bag mushroom soil
1 bag compost and manure (different brand)
1 bag different brand compost with ingredients saying either forest material or chicken manure

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  Triciasgarden on 4/30/2015, 7:40 pm

Welcome to the forum juliasquirrel!

I have some questions. When you mixed your Mel's Mix, did you fluff your peat moss before you mixed it? If it was not fluffed before you measured, you would have too much peat moss in your mix. That would give you a lower nutrient level because peat moss is in the mix more for holding moisture and less for nutrients. That may be why all the plants seem to be sluggish and yellowing. A solution to that would be to add more compost and mix it in really well.

If you think you didn't mix it well enough, you may have areas that have more of one thing than another. What you can do is remove the plants and get in there and hand mix everything up really well. It seems to me from your list that you have a good amount of nitrogen, but I am not an expert.

I don't think it would hurt to add the Garden Tone because it does sound like you have some nutrient deficiency.

Is there a way you can post a picture? It would be much easier to tell what is going on with a picture and what I said above may not pertain. Do a search for Post a Picture and following the instructions.

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  juliasquirrel on 4/30/2015, 7:53 pm

Thanks so much for your response! Yes, I will post a picture tomorrow morning. Originally, I did not fluff the peat moss, but thankfully, I caught that mistake early, and removed probably a little more than 8 cubic feet.

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  Triciasgarden on 4/30/2015, 8:01 pm

Good for you for that catch!

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  littlesapphire on 4/30/2015, 9:10 pm

Julia, I'm sorry about your plants Sad  To be honest, my first year with my SFG was kind of like that too; my plants were kind of sickly looking and light green.  I ended up supplementing with miracle grow.  I think the Mels Mix takes some time to mellow and become really good; I don't really know why this is, it just seems to be that way to me!  However, you did add in a lot of good compost, so I'm surprised your plants are reacting so strongly.

I would suggest giving your baby plants some liquid fertilizer, because it sounds like they need it right away.  Miracle grow will work, but I mostly use fish emulsion these days.  Whatever you use, make sure to use twice as much water so it's not too strong for them.  When you fill your beds with the Mel's Mix, it would probably be a good idea to mix in some of the Epsoma's stuff you have to make sure the plants will do well in it.  

Good luck!

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  jimmy cee on 4/30/2015, 9:27 pm

Julia
Don't give up on the Mel's Mix for seed starting, this is my second year of purchasing a small bag of potting soil and not using it.
I think if you put some extra thought into your composting, it will reward you greatly.
Here's my small tomato plants, in Mel's Mix. I seeded them 3 weeks ago, trimmed off starter leaves 4 days ago.
I started with a 1/3rd cup of the mix , then added as the plants grew.
Just showing you that Mel's Mix can be used for everything.
I do add a 10% solution of fish emulsion twice a week, and that all..and all bottom watered.

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Soil Tester

Post  ralitaco on 4/30/2015, 10:04 pm

I am no expert and have never heard of nor used the Garden Tone, but I am thinking perhaps you should test your soil before adding any amendments.

I saw this home soil tester on HD's website


Has anyone used it?
Any other suggestions for home soil test kits?

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  sanderson on 5/1/2015, 3:47 am

It seems to me that the Mel's Mix gets better with age, when all the micro-organisms have multiplied and more compost is added each time new plants are planted. I used half strength green Miracle Grow twice the first season. Embarassed

Ralitaco, hope someone comments on the home test. Not sure it is designed for dirt-less mix like we use.

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  zackshea on 5/1/2015, 8:50 am

Hello fellow West Chesterian! (I live in Downingtown but work in West Chester.)

I had some of the same issues last year with my first year SFG.  My onions remained the same size and shape for about 3 months!  It was very frustrating.  I figured out that my mix was lacking in nutrients when a nasturtium plant really took off.  (Nasturtiums thrive in low nutrient soils.)

I added veteran's compost (veteranscompost.com) to each new square I planted and wow oh wow did my plants take off!  I also added their worm castings to the whole bed and my onions finally started growing again.

This year I added enough veterans compost to replace what I originally used last year which was bagged stuff from HD.  The list of stuff you used sounds similar to what I used last year.  This year everything I have planted has been noticeably faster and stronger growing.  Maybe it is the MM aging a year, but I like to think its the veterans compost.  It looks just like the stuff I make myself. 

I hope everything works out for you, keep asking questions as there are a ton of really great gardeners and people in general on this forum.  Just spending an hour on this site saved me so much time in experimenting!

Side note: even though it says we are in zone 6, we are actually in zone 6b/7a which puts about 15 days warmer if that makes any sense.

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  jimmy cee on 5/1/2015, 8:52 am

I have a whole bunch of these home tests. When I last checked M.M. it was in the neutral range, as the book states, I don't concern my self with testing any more..why ? I know my compost fits the bill...I love composting

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  littlesapphire on 5/1/2015, 8:59 am

@sanderson wrote:It seems to me that the Mel's Mix gets better with age, when all the micro-organisms have multiplied and more compost is added each time new plants are planted.  I used half strength green Miracle Grow twice the first season.  Embarassed  

Ralitaco,  hope someone comments on the home test.  Not sure it is designed for dirt-less mix like we use.
Actually, last year I decided to try some of these tests on my MM because it seemed like I was having to use liquid fertilizers more than I'd like.  Turns out, my MM had nearly ZERO nitrogen (except for in my pea bed) but an overabundance of P and K!  So I used blood meal (it's all nitrogen and nothing else) in each box, and man, did my plants do wonderfully!  I was really impressed. 

I made a really super good pile of compost last year (and lots of it, too) and added it to my boxes in the fall.  When I tested again this spring, everything looks perfect for planting.  No need to add blood meal or anything.  I think the key at least for my garden is to add lots and lots of homemade compost, because all the bagged stuff I'm able to get a hold locally of is pretty low in nutrients.  So that's my new focus this year; get as much into my compost pile as humanly possible.

So anyway, about the tests, I don't think they're exactly designed for a soil-less mix like MM, but it can at least give you a general idea of what's going on in it if you're having a problem.

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  boffer on 5/1/2015, 9:16 am

@sanderson wrote:...Not sure it is designed for dirt-less mix like we use.

I don't recall anyone mentioning that before.  Testing labs use different tests for dirt and soil-less mixes; it makes sense that home testing kits are for dirt samples.

I've tried the product shown, and the kit with tubes, but I've never obtained repeatable consistent results.  I've also sampled the same mix that I sent to a lab, and the results weren't even close.  

From what I've  read,  home tests aren't consistent because the sample size is so small. But it's more realistic that home tests aren't intended for soil-less medium like MM.

Thanks, sanderson.   way to go

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  yolos on 5/1/2015, 9:47 am

I have read that you must have soil microbes to break down the organic compost into a form useable by the plants.  If we start our gardens with bagged compost, I doubt that there are many living soil microbes in the bags.  Vermiculite and peat would be sterile.  So if what I read is true, there are not enough soil microbes in new MM if bagged compost was used the first year.

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  boffer on 5/1/2015, 10:03 am

+1

Plus, you gave me an idea.

Commercial farmers, who use chemical fertilizers, have learned that applying compost tea to their fields keeps the soil from becoming sterile and barren.  

For new SFGers who have no choice but to use sterile bagged compost, I bet they could create or find a source of a small amount of compost to make compost tea to feed their MM.  Also, some garden centers/nurseries sell compost tea this time of year.

Generally, I'm skeptical about  the value of compost tea for MM made with homemade compost.   But applying it to MM made with bagged compost makes a lot of sense.

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  littlesapphire on 5/1/2015, 10:44 am

Boffer, that does make a lot of sense.  Good idea.

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  Mikesgardn on 5/1/2015, 5:55 pm

@zackshea wrote:
I added veteran's compost (veteranscompost.com) to each new square I planted and wow oh wow did my plants take off!  I also added their worm castings to the whole bed and my onions finally started growing again.

I also use the compost from Veterans Compost when my own pile runs out.  Great source of compost for our Maryland and southern PA gardeners.

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  Triciasgarden on 5/1/2015, 10:33 pm

Such good information from everyone!

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  Turan on 5/1/2015, 10:44 pm

@boffer wrote:+1

Plus, you gave me an idea.

Commercial farmers, who use chemical fertilizers, have learned that applying compost tea to their fields keeps the soil from becoming sterile and barren.  

For new SFGers who have no choice but to use sterile bagged compost, I bet they could create or find a source of a small amount of compost to make compost tea to feed their MM.  Also, some garden centers/nurseries sell compost tea this time of year.

Generally, I'm skeptical about  the value of compost tea for MM made with homemade compost.   But applying it to MM made with bagged compost makes a lot of sense.

I was looking at organic fertilizers the other day.  It seemed to me that they would not work unless the soil was already bioactive. I was thinking about some of the seed starting problems people have.  If the medium is sterile can the plant even access organic fertilizers?  Maybe blood meal and fish emulsion and compost tea?  It also seems like that if one sees a possible mold issue that watering with a good compost tea or one of those mychorizae solutions would hopefully out compete the bad molds with the good ones.   Bagged compost seems a dice game.

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

Post  ralitaco on 5/2/2015, 12:11 am

@Mikesgardn wrote:
@zackshea wrote:
I added veteran's compost (veteranscompost.com) to each new square I planted and wow oh wow did my plants take off!  I also added their worm castings to the whole bed and my onions finally started growing again.

I also use the compost from Veterans Compost when my own pile runs out.  Great source of compost for our Maryland and southern PA gardeners.

Just wanted to clarify that they are Veteran Compost (no "s") and their website is veterancompost.com.

When I was looking at their site, I saw they sell Mels Mix:

Square Foot Gardening Mix - $9.00/cubic foot bag, $175/yard
This container mix is great for anyone using raised beds, especially those doing Square Foot Gardening. It is 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 coarse vermiculite.
 
This is THE recipe prescribed for Square Foot Gardening, so if you were looking to make your own, you might want to save yourself some trouble and buy in pre-mixed!

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Re: Please HELP! All baby plants (5 true leaves) are curling upward? I am not sure what to do. :'(

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