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I need help!

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I need help!

Post  DonnaMcQ on 8/3/2010, 1:28 pm

I am new at SFG, but not at traditional gardening. I thought it was a great idea and have 4 - 4x4 boxes. Two of them have produced a few beans, good sunflowers and ridiculously prolific gourd vines! The other two are pitiful! I have tried planting 3 times! Either the plants die prematurely, or the seeds do not come up at all! I tried redressing them with organic fertilizer and composted manure to no avail. What could be wrong? My traditional garden is doing well! I'd like to plant some late veggies before the season ends. Help!

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Re: I need help!

Post  camprn on 8/3/2010, 1:33 pm

With some more information we may be able to help you. What did you originally put into the boxes for soil mix and seed ? How has the weather been? and what is it you are thinking of planting for the fall?

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Re: I need help!

Post  DonnaMcQ on 8/3/2010, 1:43 pm

I made "Mel's Mix" but only had one kind of composted manure available to me. We started out with lots of rain in the spring, turning dry for several week, then back to rainy. I watered when it was dry. It's now very hot and humid. Oh my gosh, I used to live in Keene! Small world!

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Re: I need help!

Post  DonnaMcQ on 8/3/2010, 2:39 pm

@camprn wrote:With some more information we may be able to help you. What did you originally put into the boxes for soil mix and seed ? How has the weather been? and what is it you are thinking of planting for the fall?

I think I "replied" incorrectly. I'll try again:
I made "Mel's Mix" but only had one kind of compost available. The spring was wet, then it was dry for several weeks, turning wet again. Now it's very hot & humid. I water the boxes when they're dry. Small world, I used to live in Keene!
I'd like to plant some things that are mature in 60 days or less. Our first frost date is around Oct. 10th.

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Re: I need help!

Post  Chopper on 8/3/2010, 3:18 pm

If one box is good and one bad and they have the same amount of sun and water then it is either bad luck or there is something bad going on with the soil. Get another bag of compost - different from the first - and work it in. Add some blood and bone meal or a generalized organic fertilizer, water well, and try planting again. Short of a soil test I am not sure what else to do.

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Re: I need help!

Post  Squat_Johnson on 8/3/2010, 4:35 pm

I have had problems with "bad" mulch. I suspect that the horse manure I used was tainted (farmer sprays pasture for weeds, horse eats broadleaf herbicide on grass, sf gardener spreads on garden...). I had lots of plants that initially did ok, and then appeared to shrivel just as if I had sprayed them with weedkiller.

I have since added some other bagged mulch, although it is pricey.

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Re: I need help!

Post  DonnaMcQ on 8/3/2010, 4:58 pm

@Squat_Johnson wrote:I have had problems with "bad" mulch. I suspect that the horse manure I used was tainted (farmer sprays pasture for weeds, horse eats broadleaf herbicide on grass, sf gardener spreads on garden...). I had lots of plants that initially did ok, and then appeared to shrivel just as if I had sprayed them with weedkiller.

I have since added some other bagged mulch, although it is pricey.

You may be right. I got composted manure from the Lexington horse farms! However, my "on the ground" garden is thriving! We have a compost pile, but for a year now, it's kind of been a place where we dump our scraps! Never used it! I appreciate the input, thanks to all.

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Re: I need help!

Post  camprn on 8/3/2010, 5:22 pm

@Chopper wrote:If one box is good and one bad and they have the same amount of sun and water then it is either bad luck or there is something bad going on with the soil. Get another bag of compost - different from the first - and work it in. Add some blood and bone meal or a generalized organic fertilizer, water well, and try planting again. Short of a soil test I am not sure what else to do.
Amending your mix is probably the best place to start. Very Happy

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I need help!

Post  junequilt on 8/3/2010, 6:02 pm

Also, it would help to know what you've planted in the box that's not doing well.

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Re: I need help!

Post  DonnaMcQ on 8/3/2010, 6:28 pm

@junequilt wrote:Also, it would help to know what you've planted in the box that's not doing well.

In early May, I planted some cabbage & broccoli that I started in the greenhouse, along with radishes, lettuce, beets & carrots. Nothing was harvest-able except the carrots, which were tasteless but looked great. I even gave everything a sprinkling of organic fertilizer. I tore all that out & stirred in some composted manure before trying again. I planted pepper plants & more beets, etc. Nothing came up & the peppers never got bigger than 4 inches before dying! Dug that all up and planted all herbs. The seed never germinated, even though it rained a lot! I am so disgusted, I hate to put any more in the boxes! Sorry to be such a bummer, but I thought I was such a good gardener!

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Re: I need help!

Post  Megan on 8/3/2010, 6:30 pm

Is there anything different about those boxes? Do they get different amounts of sunlight, shade, rain, (watering, fertilizer, etc.)? Are the boxes themselves made from anything different, or (if they are open-bottomed) is there anything different beneath them? Are they near a fence that they could be getting spray or runoff from a neighbor's yard?

If all the other conditions are generally the same, I'd look to your mix.


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Re: I need help!

Post  DonnaMcQ on 8/3/2010, 6:47 pm

@Megan wrote:Is there anything different about those boxes? Do they get different amounts of sunlight, shade, rain, (watering, fertilizer, etc.)? Are the boxes themselves made from anything different, or (if they are open-bottomed) is there anything different beneath them? Are they near a fence that they could be getting spray or runoff from a neighbor's yard?

If all the other conditions are generally the same, I'd look to your mix.

Hmmm, differences? Let me first admit, I did not buy weed cloth for the bottom of the boxes. I had tried "Lasagna Gardening" a while back, where you start by laying wet newspapers very thickly on the spot you want to plant, using no "colored" print. This keeps you from having to till or kill the weeds first. It's easy & cheap, so I did that under all my boxes. Other than that, my first two boxes consisted of the Mel's Mix except I used commercially bought vermiculite. Then I ordered some from a greenhouse in a very large bag (not cheap!) The boxes may be getting different amounts of sunlight, but not much. They are all made with the same material - plastic decking 2x6's and plain wood lathing for the squares. I guess, somehow, it must be my mix!

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I need help!

Post  junequilt on 8/4/2010, 1:52 pm

Okay, now that we know a little more, there are a couple of things that might bear further investigation.

First of all, cabbage, broccoli, radishes, lettuce, beets & carrots are all cool season crops. Even though the Kentucky Extension's booklet "Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky," indicates you can plant cool season stuff until part way through the summer, I wonder if the crazy weather we've had this year prevented those veggies from thriving because it was just plain too hot for them. How have your temps been?

A layer of newspaper on the bottom of your box shouldn't create problems, although it might possibly be robbing nitrogen from the bed while it decomposes. I'm more inclined to believe that your beds need a greater variety of composted products. Also, are you certain that the manure you used was fully composted? Some of us on this forum have had issues with that. If the manure is still actively composting in the bed, it won't be feeding your plants.

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Re: I need help!

Post  DonnaMcQ on 8/7/2010, 12:21 pm

Thanks for all of the input. I guess I'll throw in some organic fertilizer and/or compost and plant more seeds. Looks like the crazy weather had an effect on a lot of gardens this year and we can't do anything about that! Being my first SFG, I might have been expecting perfection too soon! I'll be anxious to compare the results of my next attempt. I CAN brag about my birdhouse gourds, though! I only have 2 five-foot trellises and they are overtaken with gourds, some of which are already a foot long! So I did have some luck! Thanks again!

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I NEED HELP!

Post  junequilt on 8/9/2010, 5:46 pm

I forgot to mention pH. If the pH of the mix is too low (acid) or too high (alkaline), nutrients can be present but the plants unable to take them up. The only way to tell is a soil test.

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Re: I need help!

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