Square Foot Gardening Forum
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What happened to my plants????

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What happened to my plants????

Post  bbnklus on 5/16/2010, 4:28 pm

I'm new to the forum - just found it. I have had the absolute worst start this year with gardening the SF method. I have traditionally use a plot in my back yard, tilled a bit of compost in with the dirt (I have clay/sand) and enclosed the area with chicken wire. Then I planted from seed or bought transplants for my garden. I had fabulous beans, okra, tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini!!! I loved it, but it was a bit of work with the weeds. Never had but a few bug/bird problems.

My brother introduced me to SFG last year, and I thought it would be a great thing to try - less work (weeds) and more fun with gardening. We built the box and used plywood for the bottom, so that we could have it up off the ground. We followed the SFG book to a "tee" for the soil and planting: vermiculite, peat moss and FIVE different kinds of compost all mixed as is noted in the book; we planted only the number of plants per square the book showed.

Two weeks go by and every plant in the garden began to develop yellowing of the leaves; which eventually fell off. The corn and beans came up and the leaves started to turn brown and fall off! We exchanged all transplants for new ones and pulled the sprouted plants and planted more seeds. The same thing happened. To keep my woes a little shorter than the whole experience: We have at this point essentially re-done the garden TWICE!! I was about to give up!!!! All that money and time - wasted!!! My husband decided yesterday to take off the bottom of the box - maybe there was not enough drainage despite over 50 holes drilled for drainage. We carefully transplanted everything into it's "new home" in the ground, but in the box.

We were told by "nursery specialists" that we have "a little of everything" to "the leaves are staying wet" (I don't get them wet when I water) to "it's a fungus" to "you have thrips". We have tried everything!! Organic (our preference) and non-organic.

I am hoping that now that the plants are in the ground and they have more room for the roots, they will heal up and take off. When we took off the bottom of the box, the roots of each plant was obviously looking for a better place!

Does anyone have any idea of what went wrong?? I will try to post some photos of the plants pre-yesterday.


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Location : San Antonio, TX

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Re: What happened to my plants????

Post  Chopper on 5/16/2010, 4:51 pm

The peat and the vermiculite do not offer anything in the way of nutrients really, so it is all on the compost. If the compost is not up to snuff for whatever reason, then the first year or two, while you are making your own compost (and even homemade can be lacking) add some nutrients to the soil. Fish emulsion, epsom salts, cal/mag tablets, blood and bone meal, compost tea...even miracle grow. Just to make sure you have that for now. I completely understand your frustration. It is hard to experiment when each loss puts you back to the beginning as the season marches on.

My guess is it ia just a lack of nutrients rather than too much water, but I don't know. Yes, this is a very useful and easy way to garden and yes sometimes there are setbacks.

Keep us informed.


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Age : 62
Location : Warner Springs, CA USDA Zone 8a, Sunset Zone 7 (I think)

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Re: What happened to my plants????

Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/16/2010, 5:37 pm

Unfortunately, as the gardening season is progressing more and more folks on this forum are discovering their mix does not have enough of the right kind of nutrients for their plants, mine included. It is frustrating when one spends so much money and time preparing everything according to the book and it doesn't go well. I decided that I would use a Miracle Grow type soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks whilst adding in manure and compost to add nutrients. Hopefully by this fall I will have amended the mix enough to stop using the Miracle Grow. But until then the plants need the extra boost. I also added rabbit manure pellets all over the garden and that seems to have made a difference.

To see what might be wrong with your individual plants, click on the "wormie" in my signature. Scroll down the new screen and then click on the vegetable you want to check.

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Re: What happened to my plants????

Post  bbnklus on 5/16/2010, 5:49 pm

All of these photos were taken about 2-3 weeks after we planted.

Squash from seed.

Tomato from garden center.

Pole bean from seed.

Pepper from garden center.

All of these have been replaced or pulled and re-seeded.

Any ideas? We were told the N was way too high (one bag of compost was turkey manure) causing the yellowing. But what caused the spots on the bean/pepper leaves? This is so frustrating....
I hope the work yesterday (we can feel the work we did yesterday today!) pays off.

Belfrybat - Thanks for the tip - I will check out your signature "wormie"


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