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Slow growth, yellow leaves

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Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  dastrong on 4/13/2011, 12:12 pm

Hello,
This is my first attempt at SFG and having poor results.
I built 2x8 cedar boxes with bottoms and have them raised off the ground.
I made up the Mels mix by the book and planted some tomatoes, squash, beans, etc. All of the plants leaves are more yellowish in color and are growing very slowly. My neighbor planted tomato plants a week after I did in a traditional row garden and his plants have grown at least 12" to 18" inches and are a nice green color.
I first thought I was over watering and cut down on the water, but it didn't seem to help. I use an automatic watering system for 5 mins per day - early morning. The boxes seem to drain well.
Any ideas of where I've screwed up???
Thanks,
Dale

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  Goosegirl on 4/13/2011, 12:40 pm

@dastrong wrote:Hello,
This is my first attempt at SFG and having poor results.
I built 2x8 cedar boxes with bottoms and have them raised off the ground.
I made up the Mels mix by the book and planted some tomatoes, squash, beans, etc. All of the plants leaves are more yellowish in color and are growing very slowly. My neighbor planted tomato plants a week after I did in a traditional row garden and his plants have grown at least 12" to 18" inches and are a nice green color.
I first thought I was over watering and cut down on the water, but it didn't seem to help. I use an automatic watering system for 5 mins per day - early morning. The boxes seem to drain well.
Any ideas of where I've screwed up???
Thanks,
Dale

Do you have any pictures you can post? That will help everyone see what is happening and give suggestions.

TC

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  dizzygardener on 4/13/2011, 12:47 pm



So glad to have you.

Sorry you are running into so much trouble. We'll do the best we can to figure out what is going on so we can help you fix it.

Since you think your watering practices are ok, I'm wondering if you might have a nutrient, root or insect/disease problem.

Can you post some pictures of your plants? It is much easier to diagnose the problem if we can see what the plants look like.

How many of the leaves are yellow? Is it just the bottom few leaves or the whole plant?

Can you tell us about your compost mix? Did you use 5 different composts? If so, can you tell us which you used?

Where did you get your plants? Were they transplants or did you grow them from seed? Did they look at all sickly before your planted them (brownish roots? severely root bound? yellowing leaves? brown spots? wilting? )?

Have you noticed any insect damage on the plants?

Also, as to your watering, can you dig down into your MM just to check that the mix is moist all the way through? If you don't prewet the peat it can be a booger trying to get it moist.

Hang in there. Mel's Mix is tried and true. Whatever is going on can be fixed.

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  elliephant on 4/13/2011, 12:51 pm

@dastrong wrote:Hello,
This is my first attempt at SFG and having poor results.
I built 2x8 cedar boxes with bottoms and have them raised off the ground.
I made up the Mels mix by the book and planted some tomatoes, squash, beans, etc. All of the plants leaves are more yellowish in color and are growing very slowly. My neighbor planted tomato plants a week after I did in a traditional row garden and his plants have grown at least 12" to 18" inches and are a nice green color.
I first thought I was over watering and cut down on the water, but it didn't seem to help. I use an automatic watering system for 5 mins per day - early morning. The boxes seem to drain well.
Any ideas of where I've screwed up???
Thanks,
Dale

Are the leaves getting wet? Is dirt splashing on them? What's your humidity like?

Can you post a pic? Pics are extremely valuable in figuring out what's going on.

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Pics

Post  dastrong on 4/14/2011, 7:32 am

The composts that I used:
A couple were manure based
One mushroom compost
and another two that were a general organic compost.


Tomato Plants - not much bigger that when planted.


Beans - from seed planted about the first week of March.


Squash - from seed planted about the first week of March.

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  staf74 on 4/14/2011, 8:33 am

hmmm....looking at the enlarged pictures I do notice quite a lot of larger pieces of organic material; mulch and alike. It does not look like you purposely mulched so i'm wondering if your mushroom compost was full of a cheap filler of some kind. Not only would your ratios be out for MM but the decomposing material will be stealing nitrogen from the soil, possibly causing what you see.

Was any of your compost "light and barky" as opposed to"rich and darky" Very Happy

My two cents...

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  dizzygardener on 4/14/2011, 8:48 am

I agree with staf.

Your composts likely had peat and pine bark fillers, so when you mixed that with the peat and vermiculite you ended up with a mix that was light on the compost and heavy on peat. As a result, your mix is probably a little too acidic and nutrient deficient.

The fix is to add rich compost.

If I were you, I'd call around to local (not big box) garden centers and see if anyone had shrimp compost, worm castings, and/or composted chicken manure. Those are generally nutrient rich and should help increase your nutrient level. BUT, make sure to read the ingredients, you don't want something high in peat or pine bark mulch.

If you can find some worm castings I'd make a worm casting tea (couple scoops of WC in a bucket of water mixed and strained) and use that to water the squares that are already planted.

Another option might be to mix a little bone meal, blood meal, and kelp meal with a little store bought compost and add a trowel full of that mixture to each square.

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Feel your pain....

Post  ashort on 4/14/2011, 9:01 am

I have the same problem in my first bed that I planted this year. i have several squares where the plants sprouted, grew a bit and then yellowed and seemed to shrivel up right before my eyes. I am thinking it is a MM problem I created somehow. Most likely the compost was not composted too well - either that or I used too much peat. To confirm or refute my hypothesis, I am going to use miracle grow for the next couple of weeks to see if the plants perk up. Also, when I replant my spring stuff with summer stuff, I am going to add in some cottonseed burr compost that I found at a local feed store that seems to look more like the compost I would expect. I will also add some more composted cow manure.

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/14/2011, 9:24 am

This is great, guys. Glad you can draw some decent conclusions from the pictures. Welcome aboard to dastrong! Hope you get your green back.

We can see why MM recommends 5 types from different suppliers now. Not that OP was going out on his/her own. But, it serves as a reminder that dud composts can happen to anyone anywhere. I think it's great that you are getting alternatives to help you fix things, too.

I just hope future readers here realize that WE can do everything right, but if the company we bought from jakes us over, our MM will still be wrong. It isn't the Mel's Mix's fault......because it isn't Mel's Mix yet. Too many people elsewhere incorrectly blame the mix because they have nowhere else to turn to figure out what could be the problem.

Thank God we have the forum!!

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  Lavender Debs on 4/14/2011, 10:07 am

All of this good advice and one frightening bit of information I saw on one of the gardening shows.... Gardeners are said to be finding that bagged compost, recycled from bags set out by home owners, often has chemicals for killing weeds in it. You have no way of knowing until it prevents anything (except for lawn) from growing in your box. I have not come across any YET but it frightens me to get some local bagged compost just because I don't know what is in it or what perfect lawn it came from. I hope everyone gets angry and calls me bad names because this is a stupid rumor that must be stopped. I'm just saying...



Deborah…. about to be infamous rumor monger…who thinks about this every time one of her plants fail.

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  staf74 on 4/14/2011, 10:22 am

Dizzies suggestions are awesome for sources. If you are struggling to find those and if you have to try big box store, i've found "Black Kow" composted manure (usually at Lowes) to be a safe bet and a reputable brand for one source. It is almost $5 per bag but is really rich and dark.

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  ashort on 4/14/2011, 10:27 am

@staf74 wrote:Dizzies suggestions are awesome for sources. If you are struggling to find those and I don't know if your local big box store carries this but "Black Kow" composted manure (usually at Lowes) i've found to be a safe bet and a reputable brand for one source. It is almost $5 per bag but is really rich and dark.

I loves me some "Black Kow"!!!!

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  ashort on 4/14/2011, 10:34 am

@Lavender Debs wrote:All of this good advice and one frightening bit of information I saw on one of the gardening shows.... Gardeners are said to be finding that bagged compost, recycled from bags set out by home owners, often has chemicals for killing weeds in it. You have no way of knowing until it prevents anything (except for lawn) from growing in your box. I have not come across any YET but it frightens me to get some local bagged compost just because I don't know what is in it or what perfect lawn it came from. I hope everyone gets angry and calls me bad names because this is a stupid rumor that must be stopped. I'm just saying...



Deborah…. about to be infamous rumor monger…who thinks about this every time one of her plants fail.

Now why did you have to go and say that? I was so thrilled to find out that my city gives away 3 cu ft (3 bags) of compost to whoever shows up on the first Sat morning of the month....

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  staf74 on 4/14/2011, 10:43 am

One more thing to add here Dastrong....

You can tell you've clearly spent a lot of time / money /effort on your set-up. Water hoses etc that I don't have either so don't give up now Very Happy

When you do finally find those sources, I would take out all the mix from the boxes on a tarp. Also, carefully take out the plants and don't disturb the roots too much and set out somewhere watered and in the shade.

Then make a kind of large sieve with smaller chicken wire (quarter or half inch openings perhaps) and shake out all of that larger filler. The good stuff will fall back onto perhaps another tarp. You may want it spread and set it out first to dry a little before you do this to make it easier.

Then add your new good stuff, water again as you go and mix. You will have done a great deal to fix the issue. I know its almost like making the mix again but it will really fix those ratios. Then tap off the root ball to take the old mix directly from the roots and transplant back your plants.

Its what I would do. Hope this suggestion does not overwhelm you.

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  staf74 on 4/14/2011, 12:13 pm

and another two that were a general organic compost.

This sounds suspect to me at least.

Can you nail down what the specific ingredients were / are?

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  middlemamma on 4/14/2011, 12:28 pm

Everyone has great advice...

here is another option for you to choose from...

FISH EMULSION.

It can be purchased nearly anywhere, get a small bottle and a clothespin.

Dilute it as labeled, pin your nose with the clothespin, and then water your babies with the fish emulsion 1 X per week until they improve. I am not joking about the clothespin....IT STINKS!

I had a similar problem last year and after 2 doses of fish emulsion I was back in business.

Staf has GREAT advice....but I am way too lazy to do that....if you are too, this might be a solution.

Also blood, bone, & kelp as well as the compost tea ideas are all great advice!

middlemamma
 
 

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Types of compost

Post  dastrong on 4/14/2011, 1:15 pm

Thanks for all the response folks!
I had first thought that there was too much manure in the mix and that was burning them up. I did use a bag of Black Cow and a think the other was call MooNure.
As for the other two types of compost, I can't remember the brands. I went to both Lowes and Home Depot to get 5 different types of compost material.
I did think about digging it out and mixing some more compost into it.
Would more manure be suggested or something else?
Dale

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Compost

Post  dastrong on 4/14/2011, 1:18 pm

In the case of the fish emulsion, bone meal, etc., should I still go ahead and dig out and cut in something else in the soil?
Last year I grew in plastic containers simply using Miracle Grow garden soil and had fair results.
Dale

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  staf74 on 4/14/2011, 2:49 pm

With Fish Emulsion, you just add to water for a diluted fertilizer solution so you would not need to "dig out". It is usually 5-1-1 in its profile and the 5 (being nitrogen) will provide nitrogen and should correct the problem of excess material decomposing and stealing nitrogen. However, you may still run into the same problem for subsequent seasons so at some point you might need to turn over and dig out, especially if Fish Emulsion does not work and the problem is low pH due to those fillers. Midmam's advice is sound to use Fish Emulsion. Its a great product. I use it on my lettuce bed despite a good MM already mix already in place as I want copious leaf production.

Pls update us on how it goes and what you did.

Wouldn't it be great to know that our collective advice helped save a SFG from an untimely demise Very Happy

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/14/2011, 4:58 pm

@dastrong wrote:In the case of the fish emulsion, bone meal, etc., should I still go ahead and dig out and cut in something else in the soil?
Last year I grew in plastic containers simply using Miracle Grow garden soil and had fair results.
Dale

First, I think you are asking that if you use fish emulsion, etc, should you still sift out all the big chunks of mulch? The right answer is yes. My answer is no. It's too much work for my lazy booty. But, I would definitely get the right stuff and mix it in thoroughly. Over time, those wood chips/bigger chunks will decompose...and provide a very slow-release fertilizer, too. I think they are still beneficial, but your proportions of nutrients are off balance as of right now. Once you fix that, the chips will be beneficial.

Second, I have done the MiracleGro thing, too. And, it will work in sawdust if you keep watering your plants with it. But, add up the money you spend on it, and then realize that you constantly have to replenish the nutrients MiracleGro provides. They are very quick release nutrients. Nothing sticks around. That is precisely what SFG is set up to prolong....the release of nutrients.

A few quick shots of something quick release is fine. But, don't become dependent on that method. Go through the trouble of setting up the garden right. You were sort of ripped off with that compost, and you can tell we all feel for you. However, once you are done, you are done. The work will be over. And, expenses will calm way down. If you continue using MiracleGro, or any other fertilizers, your expenses don't stop. (Again, I'm not saying fertilizers are bad. I would use them as supplemental feedings on occasion, but don't become dependent on that being your primary method of feeding your plants.)

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Update on my poor SFG

Post  dastrong on 5/13/2011, 8:10 pm

Here's an update of my problem plantings:
I didn't pick up any fish emulsion, but I did use some worm castings and some Miracle Grow slow release pellets.
Also, I started to cut in some Black Kow compost into my squares where I could and also topped off the soil with the worm castings and Black Kow. Gave'em a couple of shots of regular Miracle Grow liquid mix from a watering can a week apart.
I mixed up a new batch of Mels Mix using only the Black Kow as the compost component and replaced 1 of my 4x2 sections to test for better results - planted yellow squash.
Here's some after pics:


Peppers and tomatoes look much better


Beans starting to look good!


Squash grown up a bit.
The wind has been pretty tough lately in the Houston area and has been rough on the plants.

Thanks for all the advice - looks like things are starting to look up!

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  Miss M on 5/13/2011, 10:38 pm

You did great with what you added! That was just the pick-me-up those plants needed! The worm castings and Black Kow, along with the Miracle Gro for a fast shot of nutrients, should really get things going! cheers

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 5/13/2011, 10:40 pm

Great to here! All members of the SFG forum....take a bow. You apparently solved a good one here.

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worm castings

Post  Menditha on 5/14/2011, 1:00 am

dastrong, I am also from the Houston area and suffering mainly problems with my cucumbers and peppers. I need to pick up some better compost while my homemade stuff "cooks." Where did you find the worm castings?

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

Post  buttaflie143 on 5/14/2011, 2:04 pm

@ashort wrote:I have the same problem in my first bed that I planted this year. i have several squares where the plants sprouted, grew a bit and then yellowed and seemed to shrivel up right before my eyes. I am thinking it is a MM problem I created somehow. Most likely the compost was not composted too well - either that or I used too much peat. To confirm or refute my hypothesis, I am going to use miracle grow for the next couple of weeks to see if the plants perk up. Also, when I replant my spring stuff with summer stuff, I am going to add in some cottonseed burr compost that I found at a local feed store that seems to look more like the compost I would expect. I will also add some more composted cow manure.

Me too. I just went through this. I am using liquid MG to give my plants a nitrogen boost and I added fertilizer to all the boxes. My new plan is to visit as many local organic gardening stores as I can and ask the patrons what they use and how they like it. My plan is to be a more informed consumer. Hopefully, next year I will only need 4 composts because I am actively working on my own. However, one thing I have learned is that even home-grown compost can lack nitro, as it is the easiest nutrient to lose during the composting process. Go figure.

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Re: Slow growth, yellow leaves

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