Is bottom fabric my problem

jwalter007(8)May 9, 2014

I am a newbie gardener. I made my first garden last year. I worked pretty hard on tilling in compost material. I was moderately successful. For this year I decided to follow the directions in sqr ft garden book. I was hesitant to line the bottom of my boxes with landscape fabric but I followed the book. This am i searched this site for info on plant growth stunting and found lots of talk about root growth needing to go deep.

This is what my original hesitation was about but I figured if the soil was nutrient enough then the roots wouldnt need to go deep.
I believe this is the reason for my stunted growth. The garden is watered almost every day & it receives great sun pretty much all day. There is an old french guy behind me who has an amazing garden. His plants are about 5x the size of mine. He started with larger ones but they have out performed mine by an exponential amount. He had a stroke so he is very hard to talk to. I dont think he understands what I ask when I ask for advice.

I feel the problem is the fabric. If you agree, is there anyway to work around it this season...stab holes thru it thru the dirt somehow not disrupting the root.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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rickisrad

What are the dimensions of your SFG?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 8:55PM
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jwalter007(8)

I have 2 4x8'
and 1 2x8' boxes

thanks

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 6:53AM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

how deep are your beds? what kinds of plants are stunted?

different plants have different kinds of roots and needs - some don't need much room at all, but some do, like tomatoes.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 1:12PM
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jwalter007(8)

They are 6" deep.
I have beans, peas, eggplant, kale, cukes, herbs, spinach, zuchini, kholrabi, tomotos & peppers.
the last 2 are in the 2x8 bed together.

The only thing that is growing is the peas. I had to buy 5" potted tomotoes, eggplants & peppers because my seedlings didnt grow at all. I restarted cukes from seed & they are doing alright.

I put fertilizer around the plants & kale & zuchini responded, althought the zuchini is making flowers & it is robably too small to grow fruit.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 5:48PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

Gosh i didn't realize Mel recommends weed fabric. i see that now on their website but didn't see that in my copy of the book (the old edition). My assumption was always that you leave the ground open for the plants that need to stretch out.

Kale, spinach, peans and beans should do okay - but I am a little skeptical about tomatoes in only 6" (I'm bet this is a subject of hot debate!)

You could try to poke holes in the fabric but might hurt the roots. If they aren't growing though, might be worth either trying that or moving them to larger containers.

Do other folks have good experience with tomatoes in 6" with weed fabric on the bottom?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 9:27PM
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jwalter007(8)

They are 6" deep.
I have beans, peas, eggplant, kale, cukes, herbs, spinach, zuchini, kholrabi, tomotos & peppers.
the last 2 are in the 2x8 bed together.

The only thing that is growing is the peas. I had to buy 5" potted tomotoes, eggplants & peppers because my seedlings didnt grow at all. I restarted cukes from seed & they are doing alright.

I put fertilizer around the plants & kale & zuchini responded, althought the zuchini is making flowers & it is robably too small to grow fruit.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 6:33AM
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gardenper(8)

Sounds like your neighbor has been growing for many years. He may have secrets and knowledge that you don't have, beyond just using a SFG soil mix.

Sorry to hear you won't be able to get much info from him but it's OK -- you have to solve the problems for the garden you have.

My first feeling is that 6" may be a little too shallow, but it's not the same as saying that the plants shouldn't at least be growing well when they are not of mature size yet. Is that 6" of soil or 6" depth of your bed, and maybe the soil depth is a little bit less than 6"?

As I was re-reading your OP to think of questions to ask you, I would like to ask to clarify the soil mix you are using, including proportions, and any fertilizers you are using. Many gardeners say "it's the soil" that makes the most difference, so let's check there, too.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 11:23AM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

I think I would only do the weed cloth, or any other barrier, at the bottom of a raised bed if I believed the underlying soil was contaminated, as say a lawn with years of pesticide/herbicide use. In all other cases I would look for the benefits of deeper soil.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 2:34PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

yes i agree that more info about soil mix etc would help - also are you getting the same amount of sun as your amazing french gardener?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 12:57PM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

Slowjane, Frenchie is evidence that the neighborhood has good soil, or soil that can be made good.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 3:22PM
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jwalter007(8)

My beds are made from 2x6 board which are really only 5 1/2", i think.I have them filled to the top with mix that I made. I used 1/3 of each...compost (which was split between cow & mushroom), peatmoss & vermiculite( which was a bit less than 1/3 because it was really expensive). Since planting, I have sprinkled a handful of organic veggie fertilizer powder that I bought at lowes around each plant. It seemed to help. I Have really good sun, same as Andre. our gardens are almost back to back. I saw his wife picking radishes the other morning & asked what they did. She said 2 bags of cow manure & 1 big bag of garden soil per bed. She said they water 2x per day. I would say he's been gardening there for many years so his soil is prob very good. I water when i get home from work every day. Its usually still wet in the am. I bought a soil humidity meter & it stays away from the dry side of the meter. PH meter shows more to alkaline end.
This is my second year gardening. Last year I bought a yard of compost & mixed it into my soil. so under my beds is prob decent soil. I was hesitant to put the fabric under the beds for that reason. I dug around the edge of my tomato, pepper bed today & cut the fabric where it is attached. I was going to try to pull the fabric out. I was called it to help with the baby I wasnt able to attempt it. I dont think its going to come out.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 9:58PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

Hmm I'm not sure what to advise. I think gardenper is right in that that depth probably shouldn't be stunting them yet given their size.

Cow manure is good stuff, as is horse manure which my mom gets for free in a different part of the country and I stay jealous when I see her raised beds!

One thought is that if you poke holes in the fabric I bet roots will find their way. On the other hand people swear 6" can be done. Can you post a picture to help us?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 8:03PM
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