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tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  Unmutual on 5/25/2011, 1:58 am

Good watering tip Ms. M. I have about 6 plants that are saying thank you! Now if only it would just rain...

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  Miss M on 5/25/2011, 11:36 am

@Unmutual wrote:Good watering tip Ms. M. I have about 6 plants that are saying thank you! Now if only it would just rain...
I know! It hasn't rained in so long! Our often waterlogged yard has been bone dry for... I'm not even sure how long. When was the last time we had anything but a five minute sprinkle?

It's a bit strange to be watching the levees, praying they will hold so we won't be flooded, yet needing rain because we're in a drought! Rolling Eyes

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  Miss M on 5/25/2011, 7:53 pm

Just some more info I found about cotton burr compost... like I said, mine came chunky, so I was concerned about it, but I mixed it in anyway. If I had known a little more that day, I probably would not have.

BUT... it looks like it is just fine to mix in as is, which is unusual! I found this:
Are cotton burrs a good soil amendment?

Yes! Cotton
burrs are very rich in protein and have nearly twice the nutrient
values of normal manures. Once fully decomposed, cotton burrs are
a powerful supply of nutrients and nitrogen available to the plants.
Cotton burrs also break-up tight clay based soils, improve moisture
retention in sandy soils, encourage mycorrhizal interaction with
root systems, and does not tie up nitrogen or other nutrients in
the soil. The fully decomposed cotton burrs used in SBS (Soil Building Systems) compost
have no chemicals, weeds or insects and are ecologically friendly.
http://www.soilbuildingsystems.com/FAQ.php#CottonBurrs
So it appears that, unlike most things, cotton burrs do not have to be completely composted in order to be mixed in. They won't burn your plants or rob them of nitrogen. Once completely composted, they are one of the best composts there is. I'm not sure how good they are not completely composted, but at least I know that they will provide a slow-release supply of nutrients to my plants.

I'm still thinking, Joe, that one of your manure composts was not done. Unfinished manure can do some serious damage. Sad

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  NHGardener on 5/25/2011, 8:13 pm

@pattipan wrote:
@Miss M wrote:Pattipan, I was a bit miffed at the persistent host image box, too, until I realized that, to make it go away, all I had to do was click on the host image button again!

Thanks for that tip, Miss M!

pattipan

DITTO!!!! I didn't know that's how you got rid of that thing. I would just click on Preview to make it go away. Well, everyday you learn something new...

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  NHGardener on 5/25/2011, 8:28 pm

Joe, so sorry you are having such a frustrating time! This is my first year, and it hasn't gone according to plan so far, mainly because I didn't have a good setup for my indoor seedling growth, so I'm afraid my beautiful open pollinated heirloom tomato seeds have gone to waste. However, my seeds are sprouting in my boxes so I'm thankful for that!

I liked the person's advice to stick your hand in to the bottom of your soil and see if it's wet all the way through. That's one possibility. After I filled my boxes, it rained for, well, forever. And yet, when I was sure the soil must be drenched, I planted some seed potatoes and was surprised that the top layer of soil was wet, but not underneath. Fortunately it kept on raining and raining and raining, so now all that is soaked thru, and I guess you have to basically keep it that way.

The other issue it sounds like is maybe some of your compost wasn't ready. I'm wondering what kind of compost you got at the landfill. That would be where I would probably start. If the nitrogen level was low, it sounds like uncomposted compost, only because when compost composts, it uses a lot of nitrogen.

This is what I would do. I would give up my dreams of getting a bountiful harvest this summer, and take the time this summer instead to get all zen-like and become one with your soil... (ha ha) - but really, I would try to perfect your mix this summer. Try doing chemistry experiments with your soil to get it perfect, and try growing seeds in there and see what happens. I wouldn't even invest in expensive plants or seeds - just the cheapies. Just to kind of get a feel for what's happening nutritionally with the soil, and when it will be ready. Keep testing to see if it's staying wet down to the bottom. I'd keep taking soil samples to test the nitrogen levels. And then, when you feel like you know what's going on in there and things seem to start thriving, start planting, according to what will grow for your season.

You can whip this baby into shape, it just might take a little more tinkering with than you would have expected.

And remember - in my growing season, we're just planting seeds and barely sticking tomato transplants out there, we aren't even on to peppers yet, so we're still behind you, you haven't lost much time compared to us!

It could be that this is the summer you're just supposed to grow and harvest soil mix. Smile

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  dizzygardener on 5/25/2011, 9:47 pm

Miss M thanks for that info on Cotton Burr. That's a compost I'm not familiar with. We can't get that one locally.

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  Miss M on 5/25/2011, 10:46 pm

@dizzygardener wrote:Miss M thanks for that info on Cotton Burr. That's a compost I'm not familiar with. We can't get that one locally.
I really thought when I got it that I was just about settling for a filler as my fifth compost. I hoped that the manure would pick up the slack. So to find out that it is even more nutrient-dense than manure is was a big surprise to me! Apparently, cotton is a heavy feeder, and most of the nutrients end up in the cotton burrs. http://www.backtonaturecompost.com/cbc.html has more information -- this is the brand that I bought. Cool

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  walshevak on 5/25/2011, 11:23 pm

@dizzygardener wrote:Miss M thanks for that info on Cotton Burr. That's a compost I'm not familiar with. We can't get that one locally.


And yet NC is a cotton producing state. So figger!

____________________________

A WEED IS A FLOWER GROWING IN THE WRONG PLACE
Elizabeth City, NC
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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  dizzygardener on 5/26/2011, 1:37 am

I know right? Maybe if I were in the Triangle, Piedmont, or Charlotte I could find it, but not out here in the boonies. I have to drive an hour just to get worm castings. Shocked

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  walshevak on 5/26/2011, 6:14 am

I haven't seen it anywhere in the coastal counties and I've shopped from VA. Beach, VA to Wilmington, NC because my truck just seems to like to pull into gardening centers. Gives me a stretch break when I'm traveling to visit my son. Laughing

Back to Joe, is any of this available where you are and have you seen any improvement in your garden?


Kay

____________________________

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Elizabeth City, NC
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Click for weather forecast

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  Miss M on 5/26/2011, 10:42 pm

@walshevak wrote:Back to Joe, is any of this available where you are and have you seen any improvement in your garden?Kay
Oh, the only reason I stuck the info on cotton burr compost in this thread is that it's one of the ones he's using. Smile

I'm anxiously awaiting his next update, too, though!

I hope he's able to pull some of his plants through, but he may end up having to do what someone else mentioned -- cover it with plastic and let it finish composting, and then plant in the fall. It's a shame that companies sell compost that isn't finished! It seems it doesn't matter for the cotton burr compost, but unfinished manure compost is tough for the plants to handle.

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  kerriejo1961 on 5/29/2011, 3:05 am

I'm glad you started this thread... I'm having some problems, too. My green beans (planted outdoors from seed) sprouted and seemed to want to do well, but then they got brown and spotty and then started shriveling up. I pulled them a couple days ago and their sqft is still empty. The same happened to my collard greens... same but different. They had little brown bumps on the undersides of the leaves so I ended up spraying with Melaleuca's Sol-U-Mel which I was told worked as an organic pesticide... they seemed to do better for a while, then started dying. I pulled them up, too. I have those danged green cabbage worms tormenting my brussels sprouts, and have had some sort of something, not bug but disease looking, harassing my yellow squash and zucchini. The tomato plants and cauliflower that I just poked down in the garden around our shed (just plain dirt not MM) are doing better than the ones in my MM sqft garden. Sigh... Part of my problem is being a novice, and having a lot of other things to do, I'm not researching and digging to the bottom of things like you are trying to do!!! I know that gardening is a challenge, but maybe we'll figure it out eventually!! You before me, as you are really being persistent!! I hope you'll hang in there and that there will be some harvest making it to your table!! may let mine fade out as we are going to put the house up for sale soon and I don't want to have to move a lot of garden contents anyway.... I look forward to another year next year and I'll spend the fall and winter dong a lot more reading and research than I'm having the time to do now!! study

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  jbh29 on 5/29/2011, 10:27 am

This is my second year sfg and I was having trouble with my cukes not thriving, peas, & some lettuces & spinach having yellow edges, and my squashes just looking peaked. After doing lots of reading on this forum, visiting with a locally owned nursury (not big box store, but a person who has spent a lifetime raising plants) I began adding nitrogen using 2 different products: Garden Tone granuals and Neptunes harvest organic fish & seaweed fertilizer liquid. I like the liquid better as the plant could take it up right away and not wait for granuals to disolve or whatever.

BUT, the big kicker for me was when I learned (on this forum) that you have to figure how much peat you use by the fluffed up volume. ( Embarassed still blushing over this collosal mistake!) Last year when building my beds and mixing my mm, I needed 4 cu. ft. of each ingredient for my 4x8 beds. I mixed it up using a 3.8 c.f. compressed bale (plus I added a bit more to bring it up to 4) for each bed. Now I understand that when it's fluffed up that would be almost 8 cu. ft. of peat - twice as much as I needed.

Also, none of the compost bags we bought had the cu. ft. info on them. I've recently learned (can you guess where?) that a 50 lb. bag of compost = 1 cu. ft. So, I calculated that all wrong too and so put only 2 cu.ft. of mixed compost in each bed when they needed 4 each.

So, I know now that my mix is low on compost and vermiculite and high on peat. My beds were almost completely planted when I discovered this, so I promptly mixed up more compost (5 varieties) and then top dressed and side dressed generously. Mixing it in where possible, and just sprinkling it over things like carrots and green onions (they are too close to mix it in much - but I hope the nitrogen will be carried down to the roots with the watering.).

In the last week & 1/2 I've noticed everything greening up. My cukes are mostly coming out of their 'dead' state, but some i've pulled and replaced with new seedlings (sprouted in vermiculite - which is a dream sprouting method I learned on this forum too!)

I plan on adding vermiculite this fall after gardening is done (maybe early next spring, we'll see). I'm keeping notes on how much compost I'm adding this year in hopes to achieve a more ballanced mix for next year.

Anyway, the purpose of this novel I just wrote is to say, hang in there! You are not alone in facing hurdles. Muddle through, keep reading this forum, and take one step at a time to move on. The rewards will be worth it!!! And try not to compare your garden too much with your neighbor's. You can't compare apples with oranges, especially in this early stage of learning. Wink

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  Furbalsmom on 5/29/2011, 11:30 am

Jenny, that was a very helpful post for those having problems with their mix.

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  NHGardener on 5/29/2011, 2:47 pm

Wow, that certainly was helpful. I think you may have hit that nail on the head - that perhaps the mixtures needs to be a little heavier on the compost and verm. and a little lighter on the peat from the get-go.

I have extra compost & verm from my mixes, and now I know what I'm going to do with it. Smile

Good detective work!

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On mixing Mel's Mix

Post  tomperrin on 6/9/2011, 9:12 pm

I can't speak too highly of Mel's Method of mixing Mel's Mix. My only problem is that I sometimes have trouble counting to five, and making the combination equal to the peat moss and vermiculite.
That said, this is how we did it:

1. Lay a tarp on the ground.
2. Use a 5 gal plastic bucket as a measure.
3. Fill the plastic bucket with equal parts of compost from each different kind of compost you have.
4. Pour the compost on the tarp.
5. Blend the compost by using a garden rake upside down, and raking it back and forth. (You turn the garden rake upside down so you won't punch holes in your excellent tarp.
6. Mix further by rolling the tarp back and forth. Use two people if necessary. A friend of mine used an old shower curtain because he didn't have a tarp.
7. Fill the 5 gal bucket with the blended compost.
8. Pour this on a separate tarp.
9. Fill the 5 gal bucket with peat moss shoveled from the bale. This will fluff it up nicely.
10. Pour the peat moss on top of the blended compost on Tarp # 2
11. Fill the bucket with vermiculite.
12. Pour the vermiculite on top of the peat moss and vermiculite on Tarp #2.
13. Blend the mix thoroughly by using the garden rake upside down, and by rolling the tarp.
14. The result is Mel's Mix as I understand it. Fresh Mel's Mix looks like the biggest mistake you made all year. Trust me, it's not a mistake. It's a miracle planting medium.
15. Pour the blended Mel's Mix into your square, or pot, or planter.
16. Wet it down.
17. Mix it up again in the box.
18. Wet it down again
19. Mix it up again in the box.
20. Wet it down until it is wet from top to bottom.
21. Plant your plants, seeds.
22. Water again in the evening
23. Water again in the morning.
24. Repeat every day.

  • If you go for more than a week without rain, water more often during the day.
  • If you have a period of high winds during the day, water frequently during the day. High winds can drop the water table a couple of feet in a day.


Mel's Mix drains very rapidly. The only plant that I have had with too much water was potatoes in a planter, and that was fixed after I drilled weep holes in the planter.

If you want to see what happens to plants which are not watered enough, go to a Big Box store.

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  Furbalsmom on 6/10/2011, 3:56 pm

tom, Sounds like you have a good mixing method that works well for you. I understand sometimes it is a challange to count to five when there is conversation or other activites going on around you. It is easy for me to lose track of how many buckets have already been dumped in the pile.

I mixed mine just a bit differently to make sure everything was equal, and had my DH as backup on counting.

I took one 5 gallon bucket of each of the five composts, mixed them well, then added 5 buckets of fluffed peat moss and 5 buckets of vermiculite. Then, I mixed all the components together. That is a wonderful idea to use the back of the rake before mixing with the tarp.

When filling my SFGs, or containers, I put in a layer (maybe two inches) of Mel's Mix, then watered that layer in before adding another layer of Mel's Mix, watering, then adding more layers and watering until the SFG or container was full.

My 4 X 4 by 8 inch deep table top took 25 gallons of water. I know, because it took 10 - 2 1/2 gallon watering cans to completely water the Mel's Mix. I did find that adding the water slowly helped it be absorbed more evenly.

Now I live in an area where we are still getting enough rain that I have not had to water often at all. Of course we have not had lots of sun either but that will be changing soon, so daily watering may be necessary later here.

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

Post  PaddyG on 6/13/2011, 7:49 am

Thing thing about the bucket method is you are mixing in units of volume. The thing about mixing Mel's Mix is you are mixing in units of volume for your thirds. Not weight, and not bags.

The 3 equal parts are equal volumes of material. I used another unit of volume to mix my Mel's Mix. I used cubic feet. Some (maybe half) of the compost and peat you get at the big box stores will have the volume of the bag in cubic feet printed on the bag.

You can use the volume (physical size) of the bag that is marked to estimate the volume of the unmarked bags. If you don't want to estimate you can dump out the bag of peat (usually marked) on your tarp and use the bag itself as a measuring cup to determine the correct volume of the other material.

BTW, on compressed peat... Of the peat I have seen at my local Lowe's and Home Depot most are not compressed at all other than some settling. If your center purchases peat locally there are a few exceptions. If it is a national brand in 2.0 cubic feet bags at the big box store then it is not compressed.

If you get it at the locally owned garden center in square... well... bales, then it is compressed and will need fluffed before mixing. All I have seen here at my local garden centers are compressed bales in cube shaped plastic bags. If the bag is still hard as brick after some shaking to loosen any settling from shipping then it is compressed and will need fluffing.

I said all that to say this, it is really easy to mess up such a simple thing as the mixing of the Mel's. I know from experience... What a Face

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Re: tomatoes wilted, cucumbers dead, zuchini dying

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