Everything is dying!

Sun-n-Clay(7)July 27, 2011

Hi everyone,

Newbie here! I'm in the DFW area and this is my second year attempting a vegetable garden. The first year I did okay and harvested collard greens, tomatoes and peppers until I left town for a few days and came back to a dead garden.

This year I moved to a new house and have been here every day, and everything is dying. I planted a variety of tomatoes and peppers in the ground, Kennebec potatoes in bags and boxes on the ground, strawberries in pots, basil in the ground and in pots, and eggplants in pots. I got my plants from Calloways and Ace Hardware. My son killed my strawberries when he watered with a high-powered hose setting (grrr!). The tomatoes and peppers produced a few but died off in this crazy heat. My potatoes appeared to be doing well and I piled soil on them as instructed but now they are all dead. The only thing doing well are the eggplants.

I have clay soil, so I used raised beds filled with Miracle-Gro soil, bagged top soil, bagged compost and crushed leaves from my trees. I put the beds in full sun, but now I think the full sun has fried my plants. There is no sign of disease or bugs, just dry brown leaves.

What should I do next year to get a bountiful garden?

What should I plant and where?

Should I use my shade areas?

What do I do with this blazing sun?

When and how often should I water in this heat?

I would really appreciate any advice as I am determined to make this work next year. I actually hoping to plant something for the fall - any advice on that?

Thanks for reading this long post. I hope you can help me turn my brown thumb green!

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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I have a small raised bed for tomatoes and it was too successful for me and it gets a lot of mid-day sun.

The garden soil consists of zeolite (HEB kitty litter type which is dirt cheap), cheap top soil from big box stores and cheap compost.

Cherry tomatoes are much easier to grow compared to big ones.

I also use actinovate fungicide to protect tomatoes and others just in case.

I used a mixture of fish fertilizer, molasses and seaweed once a month.

Water once a week into the garden soil to keep tomatoes producing at optimal level.

For container growing, please visit container forum. It's totally different than in ground veggies.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 9:08PM
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Hi Lou,

Thanks for your response. Do you actually use HEB kitty litter?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 11:46PM
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Sun n Clay, you are not alone.

I gave up on vegetables a long time ago thinking I just didn't have enough sun for them. Now I have plenty of sun and they still don't work for me. :(

This spring I planted a few tomatoes, and a squash in sun and left 3 others in pots in shade to hold over until fall.
All squash are dead now. Lost one tomato plant to hail, and the others look awful but are still alive.

I started a few tomatoes for fall to see if they do any better.

For all the worry and effort put into growing vegetables
you'd think I wouldn't have to ever buy any!

Here's hoping my family never depends on me to grow our food!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 7:35AM
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Sun-n-Clay, I'm also in the DFW area and a lot of my stuff is dying in spite of my watering about every other day.
I have tomatoes and peppers in raised beds. The tomatoes look really bad and aren't producing. They are mostly different types of cherry tomatoes. They get quite a bit of sun. The one that was producing some tomatoes is Sun Gold.
I've harvested a few peppers but the plants still look great. They get a lot of shade. I have hopes of getting pepper in the fall.
My cucumber vines have died.
I planted 5 types of pole beans that are in part sun.
Planting beans is new for me this year.
Yardlongs (2) produced a little, but I think one is dead now. Black Jungle butter bean vine is green, but no beans yet. The other beans vines are dead.
melvalena, did you start fall tomatoes from seed?
Last year I kept mine alive thru the summer, then frost got them in the fall.
I'm not sure if I should cut my plants back, start new seeds or just yank them out and try something else. I'm really leaning toward the yanking.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 8:23AM
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Yes Ruth,
this is the first time I've started seeds in summer for fall planting. I had intended to start them over the 4th.. but ran out of time... got around to it this last weekend.
Have a few tiny sprouts this morning.
Lets see if I can keep them alive until its time to put in the ground.
I started 12 of 2 kinds of heirlooms.

They get only a tiny bit of morning sun, but bright light the rest of the day.

Maybe I should also start some more squash plants?
hmmm one more chore for today's list.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 9:25AM
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It turns out to be very true that "full sun" does NOT mean full Texas summer sun. Tomatoes are already in trouble due to the air temperature just being way too high for them to set fruit consistently. I think the only strategy that has a good chance of success for summer vegetables here is shade and a steady water supply. I observe by placing some tomatoes in full sun and some in shade that those in full sun stay largely curled up, even with twice a day watering, while those in shade at least fill out after watering.

But hand watering isn't doing it. I believe the only thing that's going give them a chance is wick watering, which has several advantages, aside from eliminating the daily wet-dry cycles that are fine for herbs but bad for vegetables. The sun has just been too strong for intermittent watering.

The general advice for shade is 30 or 40 percent shade cloth, and I see no reason to go heavier. Heavier shade will not lower air temperature. (Soil temperature in containers under 30% shade was 100 yesterday afternoon.) However, I am going to put together a horse trough self-watering installation and site it where it will get only about three hours of direct sun and the rest of the time in varying shade where the air can circulate through nearby foliage.

The hope, of course, is that more heat tolerant tomatoes can do well with a steady wick watering and some shade protection. They can hardly do worse.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 9:58AM
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Thanks for your responses, guys. I've gotten some new tomatoes and zucchini plants that I am going to put in an area that gets morning sun, and see what happens. I'll also be careful to water only the roots, which means I'll be doing all the watering myself.

I'm also going to replace my dead plants with okra in the full sun areas, although okra plants are hard to find right now. I hear the heat does not affect okra too much, so let's see what happens.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 11:54AM
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