Why will nothing grow in this one section of my garden?

rufio275August 11, 2014

I'm having a strange problem with my raised bed garden this year--strange only because of the last two years, which were incredibly productive. For starters, my garden is about 12 ft. by 4 ft. I use mushroom manure in the spring before planting and have so far planted everything from seed. Obviously I don't treat any of the vegetables I grow, I weed when it seems necessary, and unless it gets overly dry I let nature take care of the watering.

The past two years I had no issues. Whatever I put in the ground shot right up. My neighbor, who fertilizes like mad, was blown away. And this year, again, I had tons of the usual vegetables: lettuce, kale, cucumbers, beets, chard, beans, collards. The only thing that didn't grown was a short row of onions, whose seeds were leftover from the year before. I chalked this up to the fact that maybe the seeds didn't keep well over the winter. But then a few weeks ago I planted lettuce seeds in this bare spot--lettuce seeds that I had just bought and used successfully in a different section of the garden--and nothing. Not a single sprout.

This area gets sunlight almost all day (there are no tall plants blocking it, either) and has been thoroughly dowsed with off and on rains from last week. There are no weeds growing in this spot, apart from a small clover which I plucked this past weekend. I'm at a loss as to why this one section won't produce anything. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Also, the nearby plants are cucumbers, beans, chard, and kale, all of which I've read to be good companion plants to lettuce.

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Lettuce doesn't germinate well when temps are high. Anything over 77F.

Edit to add:
Onion seeds are poor keepers.

This post was edited by jean001a on Tue, Aug 12, 14 at 1:21

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 1:15AM
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yes and yes. that spot is still fertile. Carrots and kale also have trouble germinating in hot weather. if you want something for the Fall that germinates immediately, turnip and daikon will make you happy.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 11:45AM
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What, beside the mushroom "manure" (compost?), is in that raised bed?
What were the temperatures when those seeds were planted?
How much water did you get from the rain?
Seed germination has very little to do with soil fertility and more to do with adequate, but not too much, moisture and temperature. Seed depth also influences germination.

Here is a link that might be useful: About seed germination

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 6:08AM
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Sorry for the late follow-up. There is nothing in the bed other than soil, which is now three years old, and mushroom manure, mixed in each spring after tilling. I planted those seeds in the spring, when temperatures were in the fifties or sixties. It was a moderate spring as far as rainfall, and during dry spells I would go out every other day to water the garden.

As a side note, about a month ago, when I was done harvesting my spring and summer crop, and temperatures had started to come down again, I planted kale, lettuce, and beets in another section of the garden which had produced lots of veggies earlier in the year. These also have yet to sprout. In years past I've been able to plant in spots where vegetables had grown in the spring and summer without issue. Could the soil be losing its minerals after one crop, or just not be as effective as it was several years ago when I started the garden?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2014 at 10:53PM
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The only way you will ever know whether the soil is loosing fertility is by having a good reliable soil test done, but that has nothing to do with seed germination. Seeds are geminated in sterile media, and even on moist paper towels.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2014 at 5:58AM
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I had that happen in a swath of my garden.
I have been gardening there for 20 years. Amending the soil every year with compost from my goats and chickens. I also deep mulch with hay.
Last year there was a swath about 3' wide and 10' long across a few rows where nothing grew not even weeds. It did not affect the chard or beets.
This year all is normal again.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2014 at 6:37AM
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Tangentially, the mushroom compost typically gives impressive results for a couple of seasons and then becomes pretty useless without big inputs. I have a lot of experience using it in FL, and eventually gave it up entirely as not in the end being worth the hauling.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2014 at 7:29AM
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Perhaps some type of nocturnal pest is devouring your seedlings as they emerge? I'd check around and under everything in the vicinity for slugs, pillbugs, earwigs, cutworms, etc.

In my garden, pillbugs are so numerous that I can't get much to sprout unless I protect them with collars. Once the seedlings are emerged and have a few leaves they can hold their own.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2014 at 10:25AM
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