My Garden is failing . . . . . :-(

katiedidcottage(z7 TN / Chattanooga)June 9, 2009

I hope someone can help me. We were so excited to get a new place in time to get some gardens going. We built the wooden beds and lined them with papers like we did before. Then we went to a local place to get a truckbed load of "topsoil" which was a pretty brown dirt. Well to me it was pretty. Then we added some of the bags of black cow, some vermiculite, and some mushroom compost. Everything came up and everything we planted is still alive, but it all just sits there not growing or anything. The color of the plants is sort of purple with a little green. All except the sugar snap peas which were prolific AND beautiful for a couple of weeks and are kind of dying back now. I came back a few weeks ago and added some Miracle Grow garden soil by digging around all the plants and working it in and things picked up a little. Some of the plants are a teeny bit more green now, but its been 3 weeks and everything is pretty much the same size. I even tried a little Epson Salt because I heard that the magnesium should help the roots. Again, a little tiny bit better but not much. I've also stooped to adding mixed Miracle Grow which seemed to help a little. Please help with any ideas at all.

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

What are you growing besides sugar snap peas?

It sounds like you are doing raised beds. Can you describe the consistency of the soil you are using (what you used and how much)? What kinds of soil do you have in your yard? Why all the additives (vermiculite, Epsom Salt, etc)?

How's the watering and/or rainfall situation? Do you check the moisture level of your soil?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 4:20PM
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katiedidcottage(z7 TN / Chattanooga)

You are right, I am doing raised beds. I've been very successful with these before. I planted almost all my plants from seeds. I have green beans and purple green-type beans, cucumbers, several different kinds of tomatos, Indian corn, chamomile, and carrots all grown from seeds in 2 beds that are 3 feet wide by 12 feet long. I also have some squash, tomatos and onions that I planted as well as some marigolds none of which have grown at all since planted in the middle of April.

The soil in my yard is nothing but chirt that was hauled in. It is almost impossible to dig in because of all of the rocks which is why I did the raised beds. For instance, it takes about 1 hour to dig a reasonably good hole to plant something in. It has taken most of the flowers and shrubbery that are planted directly in the yard until the last couple of weeks to start to grow, but they all look better than my garden.

The soil that I bought in the truck load was from a reputable company and was beautiful fine milk chocolate colored dirt. I added the vermiculite to make the soil lighter and also because the package said that it helps to hold moisture and the summers have been so dry that I wanted to water every other day if possible. I added the "Black Cow" and mushroom compost because they are supposed to be natural organic fertilizers. At first I thought I had overdone the fertilizers, but then when I added the Miracle Grow and say improvement, I decided that was not the case. The color on most of the plants has improved since I added the watered down Epson salt and watered down miracle grow and worked the miracle grow soil around the plants. I have 6 small tomatos that have been planted since the middle of April and they have not grown AT ALL!!!!. The leaves turned purplish and now the color has improved slightly and I trimmed off the lower leaves of the tomatos and the beans which looked bad. There are finally a few new green leaves coming up.

It has rained abundantly here around Chattanooga until the last 3 weeks or so. Way too much rain, but the raised beds helps the soil drain. But even when it is dry, I can stick my finger way down in the soil and it feels cool and moist but not wet. I'm dumbfounded and think I should just turn everything over and add more miracle grow though I wanted to have an organic garden.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 7:42AM
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katiedidcottage(z7 TN / Chattanooga)

Just so you know, here are some things we've planted this spring that are thriving:

2 Blueberry bushes
Jacob Kline Bee Balm
Everblooming Hydrangea
Bunches of Impatiens
Tons of wildflowers given to me - planted individually
Azaleas on sale at K-Mart
Native azalea from plant sale
Southern Catalpa
Red Chokeberry (or is it Chokecherry?)
2 different muscadines (a purple one and an amber one)
Butterfly bush
Orange climbing rose
Double bridal wreath spriea
Lily of the valley
Fig tree (my daughter cut off a limb)
2 weeping willows (cut off from a tree)
Eastern Pine
2 Lilacs (from Indiana - I hope they'll work here)
Purple coneflowers
Yellow coneflower
Russian sage
California Christmas Tree
Lamb's Ear and another similar plant
Apple Cocktail Tree
Pear Cocktail Tree
Knockout Rose bush
Pink pussywillow
I'm sure there are more, but I can't remember them by name right now. I am telling you this to let you know that I believe it definitely has something to do with the raised bed garden soil needing something.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 8:31AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Hmmm, a lot of the things I thought might be the problem seem not to be. Some of the things you are growing are more cool-season crops (sugar snap peas, for instance) and they usually start winding down when hot weather arrives, but that wouldn't explain the other stuff (like tomatoes, corn, etc). It also sounds like your drainage and moisture situation is fine.

The only thing I can think of is pH. I would go to the store and get a pH kit and see what it said. Maybe the soil you used was not properly balanced. It's pretty common for the soil people to add additives (lime, etc) to get their soils in line, because some of their other additives can make their soil too acidic or alkaline. A lack of the right additive or too much of one might be the problem. That's about my only guess at this point.

BTW, here's a useful article about Epsom salts:

Here is a link that might be useful: Epsom Salts Myths

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 8:42AM
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Yea...sounds like offset of minerals in soil. Like brandon said, buy a pH kit.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 10:37AM
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tngreenthumb(z6 TN)

If they were bigger and failing I'd be tempted to say you have too much stuff in too small a space. That might still be part of the problem. Two 3'x12' beds doesn't sound like enough for all the stuff you listed in your second post. Although being that narrow you wouldn't have to worry about putting walking space between rows. (Should be great for the corn though.)

I have one 12x12 raised bed that I grow tomatoes in and I only do about 9 or 12 plants. Otherwise they can't get enough air flow and are more prone to disease.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 1:33PM
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katiedidcottage(z7 TN / Chattanooga)

Thanks so much for your consideration of my problem. I think I'll try to get a pH kit this weekend and see what it says. Hmmmmm, so what do I do then?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 1:49PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Come back and tell us the results!!!!!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 3:44PM
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katiedidcottage(z7 TN / Chattanooga)

Oh, well, I wasn't able to make it to the store to get the pH kit. We had a birthday party to go to this weekend out of town for our 2 year old grandson.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 11:22AM
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