need advice on plants not growing

dlandsboroughOctober 15, 2013

I live in the San Francisco Bay area, very moderate climate and generally great growing conditions. I read the Square Foot Gardening book and, using 3 previously used raised (elevated) box planters, set them up with Mel's mix using peat moss, vermiculite and a compost from a local nursery containing redwood forest humus, worm castings, poultry manure, bat guano, kelp meal, oyster shell, and dolomite limes.

I then planted, from seeds, 2 kinds of lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, onions, and some chinese lettuce and cabbage. I water everything twice a week, and the soil appears to remain moist in between. They get great morning sun and shade in the afternoon.

Everything sprouted quickly, but nothing is growing any further. I have lettuce that is 1/2" tall 6 weeks after sprouting.

In the same planters, using regular potting soil, I have previously had great success with lettuce, squash, cucumbers and bell peppers in the summer. This is a little discouraging after getting enthusiastic about the book. Do I need to supplant this with something else, or should I not try from seed. I did not like the idea of transplanting because I would be adding in a certain amount of other soil in with the mix from the root balls.

I would appreciate any help here before I give up and go back to normal soil.

Thank you in advance.


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Don't give up the ship
If the compost you mentioned is accurate that seems ok to me.
Watering twice a week ?
I watered every day unless it was raining.
Even tho I had full confidence in my compost, I added some fish emulsion, and miracle gro each week.
I had hanging baskets using MM that turned out great, flowers, and peppers were beautiful '
I watered my hanging baskets 3 times daily
, however I made certain the water did not drip out the bottom.
All plants I grew were started from seeds in growing containers, transplanted when time permitted.
I started cool weather plants in August in the shade on racks outside.Watched them mature, then planted.
These cool weather plants did not take off until the cool evenings came along
There are some plants that do not take well to transplanting.
Other plant seed need certain temp's to germinate, spinach for instance, will not germinate over 75 degrees F.
I suspect your compost may just be the culprit, I never believe what's labeled in anything.
Your own is the best.
Don't give up, it will come and make you happy..
By the way, growing medium ? I am using MM all the way.

I wouldn't be concerned about adding it to my garden in plants, There shouldn't be any soil in it.
These are all my ideas, right or wrong I'm sticking to them,
They have worked for me

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 11:04PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Compost is *not* enough. You must also fertilize.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 3:39PM
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I have a different opinion than you do regarding compost.
Building compost piles is a form of science, if done correctly, there is absolutely no need for any type of fertilizer.
I spend many hours gathering up material for my piles, many hours watering, turning, and sometimes just sitting by them thinking.
This years garden (my first with SFG) was a smashing success and it was only experimental .
The pic here is of 1 raised bed, the only form of nourishment was compost with a small amount of fish emulsion..I did not need to be concerned at all about PH.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 10:30PM
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As an experiment purchase Square Foot soil at Lowe's or Home Depot and try to grow a few of the same veggies in containers, either indoors or outdoors and see if you have better success.Lettuce has shallow roots and does well in containers. If you succeed with the store bought you'll know there was something wrong with your homemade soil mix.

I grow vegetables in containers both indoor and out. In the past I had quite a few failures and always suspected the soil. I started using the Square Foot soil available at Lowes and haven't had a failure since. It's pricey but worth it.

That's not to say you can never mix your own soil again in the future but soil is tricky. With your store bought M'sM soil at least you'll have a 'control' soil and thriving plants while you experiment at getting your homemade mix right. As you experiment again with mixing your own, test it in a few containers before you commit to spreading it throughout your entire garden.

This post was edited by CasperRosewater on Mon, Dec 2, 13 at 14:17

    Bookmark   December 2, 2013 at 2:15PM
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Don't give up! I had the same experience in my first growing season with my beds, as did a friend of mine. Each season I plant something, it does better and better! I don't know if this is accurate scientifically, but my observation from gardening throughout the years is that the first season of all new fresh ingredients can be fickle....almost as if the growing medium isn't ready to give the plants all it can. But that's just my opinion ;) My experience has been very similar but now it's rockin!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 11:26AM
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