pale leaves, dark green veins

cassiope(03/WI)June 16, 2005


I've never posted here before, and am not up on all the organic gardening techniques - but have always considered myself an earth friendly gardener.

Can anyone tell me what I'm doing wrong: I got a load of aged chicken manure and worked it into my beds this spring. I also mixed in some seaweed meal. Instead of my plants looking great, some (not all) have pale leaves but with dark green veins.

I should probably add that my soil is very sandy and every year I add compost or peat moss to it.

Thanks for any advice,


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What kind of plants are you growing? Which ones appear OK, and which ones have pale leaves? I am having similar problems with some of our blueberry shrubs, very likely due to high pH. But most garden plants do fine in neutral soil, so I doubt that pH is causing your problem.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 11:01PM
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That could be Iron, Manganese, or a couple of others. This website may give a clue.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plant Nutrition

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 6:45AM
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Eric, thanks for the response. Kimmst, thanks for the link. I guess, I should have described my soil a little more - our soil in this part of the state tends to be a little acid so I'd be surprised if it's iron or manganese. My flower beds are mixed - native and garden perennials and annuals. The plants that look the worst are native lupine, annual Diascia, and Veronica. Some of the perennials I've had for years, others are new this year.

What I wonder is the problem is
1. the manure wasn't as aged as the farmer said. 2. the seaweed has too much salt in it (I got it from a seed and feed store and it is sold as a supplement for cows). 3. Some virus or disease?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 8:57AM
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paulns(NS zone 6a)

Kimmsr that's a helpful site, thanks for posting it.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 9:28AM
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DrHorticulture_(Z3 Central Saskatchewan)

Not sure, but I've heard that chicken manure may be alkaline if they've been fed a lot of calcium carbonate. If so, give your soil time to neutralize it and your plants ought to recover.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 9:58AM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)


I planted a tree this spring and took a suggestion by someone to backfill with 1/2 native soil [clay w ph of 6.4] and half bark mulch. Three weeks after planting the leaves suddenly started looking like you describe. Pale with dark veins.

I took the leaf back to the nursery and they said it was a nutrient deficiency perhaps caused by the added mulch that may have made the soil too acid and it couldn't take up the nutrients. They recommended digging up the plant and planting again in just native soil. Which we did. They said to wait two weeks and see if it was we are waiting.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 1:16AM
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Hi Dr. H. and Adam,

I posted a response to Dr. H. on Saturday, but now I don't see it.

I think your idea that pH is the problem makes sense. I'm constantly amending that soil - trying to make it less sandy, and I'm sure I've completely changed the composition of it. Many of my plants are native - so they're used to a slightly acidic soil. I'd never heard that about chicken manure - but I googled it - and just like you said - it does increase the pH. I never would have guessed.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 8:59AM
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jsfink(z6b PA)

I have been adding copious amounts of organic matter and cover crops for a few years, and I believe the result is that my formerly acid soil has gotten neutral to alkaline, and this has caused yellowing leaves and poor growth of eggplants, which like a more acid soil. In the same bed, the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and zucchini are thriving, but the eggplant, which use to do great in the same spot, is yellow and stunted. My soil pH, which used to be acid, is now 7.2. This is within the range of tolerance for the other plants, but eggplant like it more acid. So, it is true that adding organic matter can change the pH, and this can have an adverse result on certain plants.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 12:10PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Hi, just an update on my tree. So far, since replanting it, there is new growth but the growth is pale green..maybe that is supposed to be that way and some of the older leaves have greened up more, but the leaves that had the darker veins are still that way. Not sure whether to expect them to turn green again. Just that the new leaves don't have that seems to be a good indicator. I think it will be ok, and I am planning on letting it alone the rest of the season and see how it does next spring.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 7:52AM
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I realize this is an old thread, but believe it or not if you're googling "pale leaves" this is the first thing that comes up. I was looking for an answer to a plant problem I was having and found this video that really helped out.

So just in case anyone else is searching for an answer to the same kind of pale leaves problem I was having, I'll put the answer I found here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hydroponic Secrets with Erik Biksa

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 6:49PM
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Since there is no way you can tell, just by looking at your soil, what the soil pH and nutrient level is periodic soils tests are needed by any serious gardener/farmer so they can know that. Since organic gardeners/farmers should also be environmentalists have a good, reliable soil test, periodically, is part of that, too.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 7:22AM
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