Ask a Question forum→Raised garden bed plant problems

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Waynesboro, VA
WayneWayne
May 9, 2020 4:46 PM CST
Built a 15x5ft bed that is 8 inches deep. Put one layer of raised bed black liner across the bottom. Used miracle grow raised bed soil and miracle Grow raised bed performance organics soil. Mixed the soils together. 50/50. For the entire bed. Planted 3 tomatoes, 3 peppers, 3 cucumbers, all in one section (5x5 box). Then 3 tomatoes, 2 watermelon, 2 squash in another section. Then in the last section 2 blueberry. Planted all the plants, no mulch. Let it set for a few days because we got rained on. Then all plants looked good, roots where grabbing, tomatoes and peppers sticking straight up. But cucumber looked just lightly wilting. Soil was moist at finger depth but not so much that it stuck to finger when pulled out. Watered the plants for a bit with a hose on shower to simulate rain. As days go by the cucumbers never recovered and was going down hill. The weather has been terrible. Rain, cold, very windy. Yesterday we used miracle grow garden food to spread around but not rich they plants as it said on the container. It dropped to low 30s last night. Looked at plants today, look horrible. Almost all of them. Peppers still looked ok and the 3 younger tomato plants looked ok. All the rest where welding and looking bad. Went to Walmart got a holdAll moisture, light, and PH Probe style tester. Light was fine, ph was 7 right at the green line. Moisture was a 3.5 which was just into the green. This is at about 2 inches deep, 1 inch from plant stem. At 6 inches down the moisture went from 3.5 up to just under 6. So I got premium hardwood mulch from Lowe's. 2 bags of 2 cubic ft per bag in each of the sections. Evenly spread around right up to the plants but not covering the leaves. Them watered them until it seemed good and wet. Didn't test again since It's freshly watered. Will test again tomorrow morning. I'm going to supply pictures of the entire process, can someone give advise as to what the problem is? New to a raised bed garden. I've always grown my plants in pots before when I was younger. When I had a garden in the yard, I had help by someone that knew what they was doing. Always produced well. All plants, Wood, Soil, and food in this garden was bought from Lowe's, I'm trying to put as much information as I can in this to provide the best results for help. Thank you.







[Last edited by WayneWayne - May 9, 2020 5:27 PM (+)]
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Waynesboro, VA
WayneWayne
May 9, 2020 4:56 PM CST
I clicked a bunch of pictures to upload, it did the uploading, but nothing came up on the post. Is there a delay for the pictures to post?
Waynesboro, VA
WayneWayne
May 9, 2020 5:33 PM CST
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Name: Paula Benyei
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Image
Turbosaurus
May 9, 2020 9:37 PM CST
You did everything right, you just jumped the gun and Mother Nature decided not to play ball.
It's the cold.
The tomatoes and cucumbers will not recover, replace them. The squash peppers and watermelon I'm not sure about, and your blueberries almost certainly will recover.

If you bought them from Home Depot, I think you can return them...

I'm in zone 6a and I don't put summer veg out till the 3rd weekend in May. Cold feet will stunt your plants even if we don't have temps in 30s... it takes longer for plants to recover than just waiting till the soil is warm.

Next spring start early with cold weather spring crops like lettuce, Spinach, kale, broccoli, sugar snaps, carrots and radish and herbs like thyme, rosemary, parsley and cilantro that can all happily take temps in the 30s
The plural of anecdote is not data.
[Last edited by Turbosaurus - May 9, 2020 11:05 PM (+)]
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Waynesboro, VA
WayneWayne
May 9, 2020 9:49 PM CST
[quote="Turbosaurus"]

Yeah we got plastic and was going to put stakes up and enclose it to try to help from the rain and cold. It was getting really nice out, then we just got slammed with rain, hard winds, and the cold. Think it's another 5 days of clouds and 50-60 then right back to rain for a few days. I figured keep and eye on them and hope for the best, and Whatever isn't looking good by next weekend when the rain comes, I'll pull out everything that's dead and then replace them the next week. So towards the end of the month. I figured it was weather, just wasn't sure. Thank you for your response. I'll keep this question updated as the progress goes on. Going to run a watering hose under the mulch before the plants get replanted. Around the edges and then down each row of plants. Then turn it on as needed to water the plants. Have about a acre of land that's just open grass. Wanted to run a raised bed this year, then go in ground with a bigger garden next year.
Missouri (Zone 6a)
Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Frillylily
May 9, 2020 9:52 PM CST
they froze.
tomatoes will root deeper than 8 inches so not sure how that plastic underlay will work.
[Last edited by Frillylily - May 9, 2020 9:52 PM (+)]
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West Central Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Rubi
May 9, 2020 11:57 PM CST
That sounds like an awful lot of watering to me. Too much watering kills, but a little drought builds character.
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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gardenfish
May 10, 2020 12:17 AM CST
I'm thinking you shouldn't have put that plastic down first. I certainly didn't when I built my raised bed. And your bed seems very shallow for tomatoes. It would have been better to be much deeper. Yes, the cold got them. They may come back, may not. Your decision on whether to pull and replant. Yes, you may well be watering too much, too. As to the weather, no, I'm thinking you didn't really put out too early. I've been gardening 20 years, I'm in zone 7b, and I used to be able to set out tomato plants in the last of April, no problem, no late frost. All that has changed. We are having longer, colder wetter springs now. Pic below of my raised bed. It's 4' wide by 8' long, and 4 landscape timber's deep. Maybe 2'? About so. When I pulled the tomato plants in the fall last year, the roots reached all the way to the bottom.
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Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
Waynesboro, VA
WayneWayne
May 10, 2020 7:12 AM CST
Went out a few minutes ago, was another cold night. Everything but the blueberries is now looking bad. Even the peppers and little tomato plants that where looking green and good yesterday, are now wilting down. Sun is extremely bright but Is only 44 degrees out right now. Going up to the 60s later in the day. The peppers plants looked perfectly green, but everything was just wilted down. Checked the soil, put a finger down as far as I could reach, and it was cold And just a little wet but didn't come out with soil sticking to it. Put in the meter and it was at 4 around 2 inches deep and 7 at 6 inches deep. The light is as bright as it could be. Ph is right on the green line.

Let's say that the plants don't make it, I want it to be a lesson to learn from still. So would the next step be, pull all the Plants later this week if they don't recover. Then pull all the soil out and remove the black plastic liner? Or leave it and replant? Cause if I pull the plants I can easy remove the plastic, and put the soil back in. Only thing is the mulch would mix in with the soil. Would that still be ok?
Missouri (Zone 6a)
Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Frillylily
May 10, 2020 8:51 AM CST
I don't know if it's true or not but I have heard that black mulch is dyed with walnuts to get the rich color and there are natural chemicals in the dye that keep other plants from growing well. I don't know if tomatoes are sensitive to that or if it is even true, but I never buy tinted mulches, only natural ones.

Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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gardenfish
May 10, 2020 8:59 AM CST
I agree. If you used the black dyed mulch you would not want that to mix with your dirt. Remove everything, if you are going to do it, from the top down. You might want to wait to see if the plants revive, or if some of them revive. The best mulches for veggies are newspaper, straw, and if you want to use wood mulch, cypress. I would still try to remove the liner. That's what keeping your soil too moist.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
Waynesboro, VA
WayneWayne
May 10, 2020 11:01 AM CST
I just bought that premium hardwood black mulch yesterday. Figures. I'm going to see if any come back to life, but if I restart I'll pull the plants, pull out the mulch, put the soil aside, remove the liner, then put the soil back in and mix it up well. Then replant. I'll use the mulch around the big trees in the yard or the flower bed, wherever it can be used. If not it will go in the fire pit or woods.

On a side note the strawberry plant I have with the same soil, that I keep inside over night, and put it outside during the sun time, is looking ok.

I have it as a starter plant. Keep it in my window inside, but put it on the front porch under the sun during the day. Wanted that to grow some and then use it for some seeds, to plant more as well as then plant outside when the temp is better.

Can a strawberry plant grow good in the box with the blueberry plants? Or should I add another 5x5 box for them to have there own box?

Thanks for all the help and advise.

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Name: Paula Benyei
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
May 10, 2020 11:22 AM CST
There's a lot to unpack, and kudos to you for asking so many questions and coming at it from so many angles... by next year you will be a pro

The one brief point I want to stress now is ditch the cukes and tomatoes, regardless of whether they will ultimately survive, that's not why you are growing them. This is a crop. You are planting them to produce, and the recovery time after a cold shock like this is not worth wasting what would otherwise be productive garden time and space. You have a limited growing season, toss these and get a fresh vigorous batch (preferably delivered to the retailer early next week) for a reasonably seasonal harvest... your tomatoes might come back, but do you want to wait until August 20th for a tomato, or do you want one July 10th?

This isn't your grandmother's orchid that would be important to nurse back to health. These are crops.
The plural of anecdote is not data.
[Last edited by Turbosaurus - May 10, 2020 12:09 PM (+)]
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Waynesboro, VA
WayneWayne
May 10, 2020 11:46 AM CST
Turbosaurus said:.


Agree with you fully. It doesn't look like any are going to come. We got more rain coming up, but then I think I'm going to buy all new and try again. I'll put in the watering hose and plants all at the same time, and get the correct mulch.
Name: Paula Benyei
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Image
Turbosaurus
May 10, 2020 12:20 PM CST
Better to have the hose and not need it, than need it and not have it. Come mid July you're gonna be thrilled you set up irrigation.

Now "correct mulch", that's a concerning statement. I'm not sure what that means.

IME the only incorrect mulch is expensive mulch. Lol.

Strawberry are tough guys, perennial. Don't bother with seeds, they grow on runners and 3 years from now you'll be happily overwhelmed or cursing us for allowing you to plant them. This is one case where landscape plastic is helpful. Not to protect your strawberries, but to protect the rest of your property FROM the strawberries, lol.
The plural of anecdote is not data.
Waynesboro, VA
WayneWayne
May 10, 2020 2:06 PM CST
By correct mulch, I meant I was going to get rid of the premium hardwood black mulch and go for a natural mulch instead of dyed mulch.

I'll keep that in mind about the strawberry plants lol.

Just went out to look at the plants and don't think there going to make it. The tomato plants limbs just folded right over. And everything is turning brown and dying.
Waynesboro, VA
WayneWayne
May 16, 2020 6:31 AM CST
Here's some updates. I have not watered the garden at all, haven't touched anything since the last post. We've gotten small light rain, but in the 70-80s for a few days. Nice weather. Carried my state berry plant out and watered it then checked on the box. And found some green coming back up and poking threw the mulch. Now it says e might get rain this afternoon, then back to sun until Monday. Then where getting some rain m-f everyday.

The question is should all the dead leaves or stems be cut off, like give it a little trimming, or just let it go for now. I'm not going to water since where getting rain. And I don't want to cut anything that would hurt any of them. I was planning on pulling everything and putting all new in after this week of rain.

I've been putting the strawberry plant out from 8am to around 8pm. Then it goes inside in the window to get away from the cold lately. When I put it out I fill it up with water until a inch or two comes out the bottom into the plastic around it. Is that too much water or is that ok? I've gotten a leaf turning redish colored on the top as well.

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Name: Paula Benyei
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Image
Turbosaurus
May 20, 2020 1:01 PM CST
If you're out there you definitely should trim... a lot of times rotting material can fall on healthy material and cause more rot or reduce needed sun exposure, or cause damp spots you don't want. Keep it clean, and whatever you remove can go in the compost pile where it will be beneficial.
The plural of anecdote is not data.

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