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help! nothing's growing!

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Re: help! nothing's growing!

Post  dstubbs on 7/19/2010, 11:20 am

Lack of light (due to fog) is a tough problem to conquer. This weekend was nice and sunny, and exceptionally warm, so we'll see if that helps.

Overnight temps are around 13 C these days and daytime usually in the low to mid 20's C, but those measurements are taken at the airport, which is less foggy (my SFG is literally 2 blocks from the ocean).

I've replanted new seedlings in Jiffy pots in some of my squares (eggplant, tomato, and corn). The new eggplant seedling has already died.

I'm learning by experimenting, and that's all good, but I wish I had something edible to show for my efforts as I'm now 11 weeks into my SFG experiment.

I harvested one pea pod yesterday -- the peas inside were teeny tiny -- about the size of the head of a pin, but it's progress, and hope springs eternal.

I'm determined to find a way to make this thing work!
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Re: help! nothing's growing!

Post  Odd Duck on 7/19/2010, 12:34 pm

I was listening to a garden advisor Saturday (at a talk at my FAVORITE nursery, North Haven Gardens) and she reminded us all that when you go organic, it takes about 3 years to really start seeing the benefits - better balance of insects (predator bugs eating the bad guys, more pollinators, etc), better soil quality (tilth) from adding compost, better availability of nutrients as the compost continues to break down, more "life" in the soil as it gets more populated with "good" bugs, other normal soil inhabitants like worms, etc. Even the roots of our plants produce compounds that help them absorb nutrients.

I started with compost/sand mix that was recommended for raised beds by a local supplier (not my nursery) since I hadn't found the new book or the website at that point and the first year was very frustrating with mediocre growth and production. Fertilizing (with organic fertilizer) helped a lot, but it really didn't produce to my expectations. This year has been better, but I know my mix still has a ways to go before it gets where I think it should be.

Don't forget, compost isn't necessarily cosidered all that nutritious the first year, but it adds overall nutrients to the soil and those nutrients become more available as the compost breaks down more and more with time. Plants are also proven to do better in soil with worms in it - they've "sterilized" soil and removed all the worms and had it otherwise completely equal and the "wormy" soil grew plants faster, the plants produced more, resisted disease better, etc, etc.

MM is fairly "sterile" at first and the compost from the bags is pretty "raw" compared to organic matter that's been in the soil for several years. It can take time to really get soil into optimal condition. I think the Mel's Mix is a huge jumpstart on that process with the blend of composts that he recommends, but I suspect that the MM will just get better and better with time as we amend the mix each year with different composts, especially if we are producing our own with lots of variety of ingredients going into the compost mix.

So, here's a big "hang in there" for everybody struggling and be patient, keep up your amendments with compost, don't be afraid to use organic fertilizers (and don't be afraid to use several different types - remember, variety is good) and keep reading, learning, filter it all with some common sense and persevere!

It will get better!

JMHO


Last edited by Odd Duck on 7/19/2010, 12:40 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Apparently I can't spell.)

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Re: help! nothing's growing!

Post  dstubbs on 7/19/2010, 1:17 pm

Thanks -- I needed that!
D
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Re: help! nothing's growing!

Post  Odd Duck on 7/19/2010, 1:24 pm

You're welcome! Everybody needs a boost once in a while. I'm lucky enough that my neighbor gardens, too, and we commiserate with each other regularly and talk each other back from the edge once in a while, too!

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Re: help! nothing's growing!

Post  Chopper on 7/19/2010, 7:16 pm

It might also be in your best interest to only grow cool season crops. Forget tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, melons and other heat-needers. Go with lettuce, radishes, chard, beets, carrots, peas, spinach etc. and extra-early varieties of things. It sounds like you do no have a hot season.

Also, look for local sources of planting guides. It sounds like your microclimate is exceptional and that you need to learn its nuances.

And is there anything you can do to make the light better - grow lights, reflective panels - something like that?

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Re: help! nothing's growing!

Post  Megan on 7/19/2010, 7:23 pm

@dstubbs wrote: my SFG is literally 2 blocks from the ocean

I wonder if salt spray might possibly be an issue for you? I know you aren't getting waves, but that stuff does get into the air.

Do you have any local farmers/gardeners you could ask for advice?

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Re: help! nothing's growing!

Post  Chopper on 7/19/2010, 8:06 pm

On a positive note, cabbage loves salt/sea air.

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Re: help! nothing's growing!

Post  dstubbs on 7/19/2010, 8:25 pm

Unfortunately, mine don't seem to. I have 2 kinds of cabbage in and both grew to about an inch high then stopped growing about a month ago. Ditto for my broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi.

I have been reading up on compost -- it seems compost isn't truly "done" if you can still see individual parts, as someone pointed out earlier in this thread. That may be part of my problem. My MM compost is composed of the 4 kinds of commercial bagged compost I could find around here (if I remember correctly, that was a mixed farm compost, sheep manure, aquaculture compost and something else I've forgotten) plus coffee grounds from Starbucks (of which I added a bit more just recently). I'm seriously considering buying a vermicomposting kit and making my own compost.

I forgot to mention earlier that not all of my SFG is on my roof. I also have 4 varieties of herbs planted in a window box, using my left over MM as a potting soil. That hasn't been doing much either, though just over the last week or s tw of the four started growing fairly well. The window box gets more shade than my SFG, and less watering (as I tend to forget about it).

At what point should I throw in the towelon what I have planted and start over?

I planted everything (spring and summer type crops) all at the same time in early May just to see what would happen, being on a serious learning curve. Curiously, most things sprouted well, but then stunted and many seem to have died. Then my green beans resurrected themselves (one sprout, currently about 3 inches high) but today I noticed the bottom leaves turning yellow, which is exactly what happened to my zuchinni just before it expired.
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Groan

Post  altagarden on 7/20/2010, 1:38 am

I've just posted something similar happening to me out here in western Canada, although not nearly as bad. Perhaps we are mostly just victims of bad weather?
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Re: help! nothing's growing!

Post  dstubbs on 7/20/2010, 7:01 am

Sounds like you have a similar problem to mine. I reluctantly tried Miracle Gro about a week ago. According to the package, you're supposed to use it every 7 days, so I'll try again on Thursday if it isn't raining. I think I'm going to try replanting a bunch of stuff, maybe just beside where the existing sprouts are. I'm wondering if my seeds may have gone in too early.

Keep us posted on your progress.
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Re: help! nothing's growing!

Post  dstubbs on 7/25/2010, 6:15 pm

Just an update: things seem to be doing noticeably better with a bit of fertilizing. Over the last two weeks I've applied Miracle Gro twice and a liquid seaweed called "Seaboost" once (which, incidentally, smells much better than I anticipated). We also had a few nice hot sunny days, which helped, I'm sure. Having nothing to lose, I also replanted some seeds where things hadn't worked out earlier -- maybe I just planted too soon (around May 1). Wish me luck!

I just obtained a worm composting unit and will be starting to make my own worm compost (castings) soon.

I harvested my first full size pea pod today. Better late than never.
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Re: help! nothing's growing!

Post  Megan on 7/25/2010, 6:33 pm

I made my first plantings in very late April, and I'm much further south than you are. Congrats on your first peas!
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