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Maryville, Tn (Zone 7a)
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SCurtis
Jun 25, 2014 12:34 PM CST
Hello! I just started a new raised bed this year and planted a bunch of pepper plants in it that I had started from seed. I put about 5 or 6 bags of good compost into the soil with some composted cow manure. For the most part these are all cayenne and sweet pepper plants. But sadly after a few weeks they turned yellow. VERY yellow, so I started putting coffee and epson salt dusting on them every week and that has greened them up a bit. But then it seems like some of them are stunted and still somewhat yellow? Am I doing something wrong? I thought maybe some needed more sun so I dug up two and put in pots for even more sun, but I can't dig up the whole row.
Thumb of 2014-06-25/SCurtis/783869
The bottom one is the very stunted one


Thumb of 2014-06-25/SCurtis/c6bad0
I hope you can tell how yellow the bottom one is to the other one.



Thumb of 2014-06-25/SCurtis/d60925
Here's where they are in the garden, behind the eggplants. They get about 10 hrsish sun and I tried to space them where they get morning sun too but sadly the tomatoes/squash have taken over the world.
Have a black thumb except for vegetables and that's even a hit or miss
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
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chelle
Jun 25, 2014 3:33 PM CST
Hi SCurtis, Welcome! to ATP.

We've been wetter than normal here; have you? It looks like your soil has a pretty good amount of bark pieces...almost like potting soil. I'm wondering if your plants' root/crown areas are just a bit too wet at the moment because of this. Is the most stunted plant a bit lower than the rest? Maybe water is pooling beneath it.

BTW, all of my peppers in one area look like your littlest one; mine due to excessive stress, I think, during the time while we were away on vacation. I think they'll come out of it, but they sure are tiny now.
Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Maryville, Tn (Zone 7a)
Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Dog Lover Composter Garden Ideas: Level 2
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SCurtis
Jun 25, 2014 3:52 PM CST
Thanks Chelle I'll check that out! Not sure if the stunted one is lower, I'll go check tonight. It hasn't been wet actually somewhat dry but I have an irrigation running on it every other day if it isn't raining. It probably has too much bark like soil. I've been adding in vermiculite slowly (the white stuff in those pics) to make drainage a little better. I bought some organic garden soil when I made this bed and it turned out to be primarily bark like. I added a lot of topsoil in there as well as the compost and manure guess I didn't get the ratios right. Sad about your pepper plants! Hopefully they pop up very soon. Smiling
Have a black thumb except for vegetables and that's even a hit or miss
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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chelle
Jun 25, 2014 4:10 PM CST
Best of luck with yours, too! Smiling

If you end up thinking that the bark is problematic you might try to adjust the watering routine... and maybe try a foliar feed like liquid seaweed or seaweed with fish emulsion to counteract any nutrient absorption difficulties. If your wildlife population is troublesome, don't use the fish.
Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Jun 25, 2014 5:33 PM CST
Vermiculite HOLDS moisture. Maybe perlite would be a better bet to aerate the soil a bit? I don't think the peppers look that bad really.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jun 25, 2014 6:22 PM CST
I doubted whether it could be low-N deficiency because you said :
>> "5 or 6 bags of good compost into the soil with some composted cow manure"

However, around here, "Cedar Grove" compost looks like it has a lot of wood shavings or sawdust, and I don't know how much area those 5-6 cubic feet were spread over.

IF your bark was finely ground, or had any sawdust mixed with it, and if you have a LOT of that in your soil, and they were not at all composted before being sold, MAYBE as soon as they were mixed with real soil they started taking up nitrogen. In that case, your added compost, and even your added manure MIGHT not be keeping up with the nitrogen demand from the compost or bark.

That's pretty weak speculation!

But you can diagnose it really easily by spraying a little soluble N fertilizer on the leaves. Chelle suggested organic sprays, and if you have those on hand it should suffice. But one tsp of Miracle-Gro would do the same thing and not attract animal pests. You can rinse it off the leaves a few days later if being organic is a priority. To me, testing for a nutrient deficiency is a sufficient reason to "be science-y".

>> I have an irrigation running on it every other day if it isn't raining.
>> I'm wondering if your plants' root/crown areas are just a bit too wet at the moment because of this.

If the organic soil (high bark content) was finely shredded, it probably WOULD hold too much water.
Maybe you should only irrigate them again after they have drunk more of what you gave them yesterday.

Coarser bark chips (2 mm - 1/4") would promote drainage and retain less water. So would coarse Perlite, granite grit, or crushed stone. But they would have to have been mixed with the soil to help. Top-dressing won't help, especially not with vermiculite, which holds excessive water.

I like digging, so I would be inclined to dig a trench next to the bed where one plant is yellower than the rest. A hole or trench below grade would give excess water somewhere to drain out TO, and also encourage evaporation from below grade. Those help remove water and admit air.

Also, if you irrigate and then see a puddle in the trench, you'll know that you're irrigating more often than necessary.

Also, if you have a trench that goes 3 or 4 or even 5" below grade, you can push a finger into the bed from one side, at a good depth to gauge whether you need to irrigate. If most of the root zone is 2 to 12" deep, and soil is damp or even wet 4 inches down, the plant is probably getting plenty of water, but maybe the roots wish they had more access to rapidly-diffusing air.

Imagine trying to breath if your head was buried 6" to 12" underground, and the soil had fine texture, and was watered until good and soggy every other day. Gasses diffuse very slowly through wet soil unless water has drained OUT of enough medium-sized voids, pores and channels to provide pathways for gaseous diffusion.

Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 25, 2014 8:10 PM CST
All above suggestions are great, but I am interested in your statement that you moved two of the plants "maybe some needed more sun so I dug up two and put in pots for even more sun" Certainly if you had them shaded by other tall plants, like those killer gorgeous tomato plants in your last picture, they could be yellow, stunted and growing slowly. They do need full sun! Have the two plants you moved shown signs of recovery?

Also, if composted cow manure is the only fertilizer you have given them it could easily have been used up by now. It's fairly low-dose and releases nutrients fairly fast. I'd look for a better fertilizer, as well as checking on drainage and soil aeration etc. Epsom salts is a great help with greening up plants, but very soluble, so possibly dissolving it in a watering can and just 'dosing' all your plants with the solution on days when you don't run the irrigation (so it doesn't get washed through so fast) might make it more available to the plants. I give mine a dose about every week or two.

Back to the great looking tomatoes and squash plants in the last picture, they make me wonder how it could possibly be a soil or overwatering issue, since they are doing so well.

One more observation from your pictures, the two plants in the first picture look like they are different varieties, and so they might have different color leaves even if they are healthy.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Maryville, Tn (Zone 7a)
Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Dog Lover Composter Garden Ideas: Level 2
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SCurtis
Jun 25, 2014 9:32 PM CST
Abhege, I wish I had taken a picture of them before I started the Epsom salt/coffee dustings and relocated. They were so yellow and I had leaves falling off Sad but thank you for thinking they look pretty good. Oh no! I thought vermiculite aerated not absorbed go figure I'd get them backwards. I have some mixed into the dirt but had some left over and found it somewhat reflective so I put it on top of the dirt to see if that helped get them more sun lol.

Rick, that was my first thought was nitrogen deficiency (at that time my maters were really small so not blocking some of their sun). But maybe that is it somewhat considering the Epsom salt is helping? By the way, I am noticing that my tomato plants are now starting to yellow base going up so now I'm dusting their roots too I'll try hitting them with some more fertilizer I used a long release fertilizer when I first planted them but it's been a while. Since then all I've been using is the coffee and Epsom salt.

For the past 2 days it's been raining so when it dries up a bit I'll dig a little trench and see what's going on in there. Maybe I am watering too much I've been hitting them about 15 minutes every other day when not raining but I'm used to a completely different soil.

And dyzzy the ones I moved was bc the squash plants literally tried to grow on top of them! Here I thought I gave those plants plenty of room and they go crazy. They are looking a lot better now that they've been relocated. The peppers are different types 1st picture they're both cayenne the yellower one in the 2nd picture is a snacking sweet pepper and the greener one in that same picture is a cayenne. I am worried about sun especially even with spacing them inb/t the tomatoes the tomatoes have grown together. Like a mater wall! But I'm pretty sure they still get about 9ish hrs of sun from around 10am till dusk. Last year though, my peppers had dawn till dusk sun and they did wonderfully so maybe I did mess up on my placement.
Have a black thumb except for vegetables and that's even a hit or miss
[Last edited by SCurtis - Jun 25, 2014 9:35 PM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 26, 2014 10:37 AM CST
Coffee grounds are a good soil conditioner, as is vermiculite, but they do both absorb water. The nice thing is when they dry, they shrink, and allow air into the soil as well. Same with the cellulose fibers in compost of any sort. But coffee grounds do not have any nutritive value to speak of. If your weather's been pretty warm, even a slow release fertilizer might be used up by now. If you continue to see yellow leaves and slow growth, you should put down more fert, I think. Even the good quality slow release fertilizers do release faster in warm, wet conditions. So if it says "lasts up to 3 months" I'd bet 2 months max and it will be gone.

Epsom salts is magnesium sulphate, and magnesium is a necessary micronutrient for chlorophyll production (greening) and photosynthesis. But it doesn't have any nitrogen so you do need to add a complete fertilizer of some sort. Veggies are hard working, hungry plants.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jun 26, 2014 10:49 AM CST
I agree with Elaine.

I thought the coffee grounds might have supplied some Nitrogen and helped a little. Some soluble fertilizer with Nitrogen ought to give fast greening if that is the problem (especially if you spray the leaves).

Clearly most of those plants are getting everything they need! I like the theories that the unhappy ones are getting less sun or too much water, or are a different variety with different needs and/or leaf color. Could the unhappy ones be sitting on top of tree or shrub roots?

When you transplanted two, did they have big healthy root systems? Did you see any grubs?

>> found it somewhat reflective so I put it on top of the dirt to see if that helped get them more sun lol.

Cool idea! Maybe white plastic film or upside-down white plastic dinner plates would do the same thing AND divert some of the irrigation water.

P.S. Plants are smart about some things. If they aren't getting enough sun, they'll divert energy and nutrients to top growth. If they have the capacity to grow faster than they can take up some nutrient, they'll divert it all to the growth they need most (new top growth) and translocate that nutrient out of older, shaded growth and send it upstairs to help the plant get taller faster. (Not all nutrients are mobile like that, but Nitrogen is translocatable.)

[Last edited by RickCorey - Jun 26, 2014 10:56 AM (+)]
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Maryville, Tn (Zone 7a)
Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Dog Lover Composter Garden Ideas: Level 2
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SCurtis
Jun 26, 2014 3:10 PM CST
Interesting, dyzzy, I thought coffee was a good nitrogen replacement, I'll definitely go get some fertilizer that works better than that then! Not including, I know it has been over 2 months so I'll put some more on tonight if I can :).

Rick, there is a tree about 30 feet? away? and I have had to clear out some roots but the roots would be about 2 feetish down and very small so I don't know how much they'd be bothering them. The two I took out the root balls were very small actually, I was very surprised that they hadn't gone too far out of the planting pot size that they were originally. These were habanaro peppers though and I was just thinking that overall those plants are smaller but I might be wrong. There were no grubs luckily it seems like the bugs or weeds haven't really found this bed yet :)
Have a black thumb except for vegetables and that's even a hit or miss
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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chelle
Jun 26, 2014 4:19 PM CST
SCurtis said: ...The two I took out the root balls were very small actually, I was very surprised that they hadn't gone too far out of the planting pot size that they were originally.


Ah...okay. That explains a lot. Evidently your watering regime was a little too prompt. Next planting time try watering them just once a week instead, but for a longer duration. Those roots need to have a chance to go down to find moisture, otherwise they don't grow enough to supply nutrients for a big, fully-fruited plant.

For the crop you have now; I'd mulch them well, reduce water somewhat to control nutrient leaching, and apply a good lower nitrogen foliar food. Too much N will cause the problem to worsen, I think; adding top growth that can't be supported by the plant roots.

I still remember a time, way back, when a very young, old-timey veggie gardener told me, "Nah, we don't water 'em; just a dipper at planting time to take out some air pockets, and that's it." It's good advice because it demands that the plant grow a big, strong root mass before the top growth takes off. Smiling

Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jun 26, 2014 5:15 PM CST
>> Rick, there is a tree about 30 feet? away? and I have had to clear out some roots but the roots would be about 2 feetish down and very small so I don't know how much they'd be bothering them.

I agree with you that those tree roots don't seem likely to compete with pepper plants (at least not until they are fully mature). The "2 feet down" is more protection than "30 feet away"! If anything, the tree roots would help remove excess water! If you weren't irrigating so much, I would suspect tree roots of stealing needed water.

Maybe maybe (probably not) maybe, tree roots are drawing water down faster right there than elsewhere in the bed. If your N was mainly soluble, it MIGHT be leached out faster by frequent irrigation over thirsty tree roots. Probably not.

This site found that pepper roots in their experimental field didn't go below 2 feet until after 2-3 months old and into fruiting. Even then, most of the root systems was in the top 24" of soil.
http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010137veg.roots/010...

"the bulk of absorption during the early life of the plant occurring in the surface foot of soil. When the flower buds appear, the root system thoroughly fills the soil 1.5 feet on all sides of the plant to a depth of 1 foot. Beneath the plant the second foot of soil is also quite thoroughly occupied. Mature plants have a lateral spread of 3 feet, the formerly horizontal laterals often turning downward into the second or third foot of soil. More oblique or vertical roots reach depths of 3 to 4 feet."
...
"Hence only shallow tillage should be employed"
---

Might you have hoed some weeds a little too deeply around the yellower plants?

>> The two I took out the root balls were very small actually, I was very surprised that they hadn't gone too far out of the planting pot size that they were originally.

My first guess was that the soil was too wet and not aerated enough for roots to spread easily, but I always suspect that. You should take that theory with a pinch of salt. I think I have an "overwatering feetish". ;-) The rest of the bed looked happy, so "waterlogged soil" seems unlikely.

P.S. Googling "pepper plant root system" brought up many images.
Maryville, Tn (Zone 7a)
Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Dog Lover Composter Garden Ideas: Level 2
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SCurtis
Jun 26, 2014 6:32 PM CST
Maybe I have been watering too much I got a new rain barrel irrigation system so was really enjoying watering with it. Still only every other day at about 15' mins each time. Sadly this week has been rainy so won't get dry for a little while. I have already put some more fertilizer on them before reading your posts but it wasn't too much. I used a veggie organic fertilizer also added more Epsom salt. And I haven't howed it at all because no weeds have grown in it yet that I couldn't had just hand weeded with the bed being a few months old (enjoy it while it lasts right? Lol)

As far as the tree goes I guess after this season I can dig deeper and see if there's anything under there?

So I guess we r in agreement to let it dry out a bit and let the roots go lower? I guess I love my plants a little too much! Lol should I do the same with the rest of my garden? I hope the added fertilizer helps and doesn't hurt it. Smiling
Have a black thumb except for vegetables and that's even a hit or miss
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jun 26, 2014 6:38 PM CST
I agree Hurray! I agree

>> I guess I love my plants a little too much!

I know what you mean. I tend to either procrastinate or smother with well-intentioned attention.

>> no weeds have grown in it yet that I couldn't had just hand weeded

God must have personally visited those beds and blessed them with some very potent blessing!
Or you really know how to mulch.

Maryville, Tn (Zone 7a)
Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Dog Lover Composter Garden Ideas: Level 2
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SCurtis
Jun 26, 2014 8:59 PM CST
Lol it will only be for a little more time I bet! By next spring I bet it will be covered haha
Have a black thumb except for vegetables and that's even a hit or miss
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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chelle
Jun 27, 2014 11:51 AM CST
I finally found time to dig in and check the soil condition in my back (raised) pepper bed today, and it looked to me like it was way too wet, and maybe too cool. I pulled back the layer of leaves and dead weed mulch and sprayed the plants with diluted liquid seaweed. Hopefully they'll begin to prosper soon.

My tomatoes (in the same bed) are doing well; it's just the peppers that are pouting. I did fluff their mulch, too, just to be on the safe side. Smiling

Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Maryville, Tn (Zone 7a)
Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Dog Lover Composter Garden Ideas: Level 2
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SCurtis
Jun 27, 2014 12:13 PM CST
Sounds like we might have the same problem, everything else in that bed is quite happy just the peppers are being picky Smiling .
Have a black thumb except for vegetables and that's even a hit or miss
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
Image
chelle
Jul 2, 2014 12:54 PM CST
My stunted peppers in the back plot are finally starting to shoot up and look like they want to live, at least. How are yours doing, SCurtis?

Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Maryville, Tn (Zone 7a)
Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Dog Lover Composter Garden Ideas: Level 2
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SCurtis
Jul 2, 2014 3:21 PM CST
I'm so glad to hear yours are doing better Chelle!
Mine are not doing very good Sad Now they are getting brown spots on them.
Thumb of 2014-07-02/SCurtis/5e94fa


Thumb of 2014-07-02/SCurtis/0219ca


Thumb of 2014-07-02/SCurtis/15e54b

It has been raining pretty constantly so sadly they're getting plenty of water if I like it or not. I also gave them that fertilizer over the weekend that is really all that has changed. My tomatoes are now also turning yellowish from the base and losing leaves
Thumb of 2014-07-02/SCurtis/73f3ad

Not really sure what's going on but they are side by side in the bed. Also here's the 2 I moved into pots they seem to be doing okish?


Thumb of 2014-07-02/SCurtis/237442

Have a black thumb except for vegetables and that's even a hit or miss

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