Vegetables and Fruit forum→Help - my raised garden beds don't produce

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Name: Carol Texas
Central Texas (Zone 8b)
"Not all who wander are lost."
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Ecscuba
Oct 16, 2021 11:38 AM CST
I initially filled them with Kellogg organic soil mix - in bags. The first year they produced beautifully. This spring/summer - hardly a thing. I added only a small amount of cow manure to them - but I did add fertilizer. Don't know where I went wrong.

For one of the 4 x 6 beds, Went to local nursery and she sold me a bag of "soil" intended for roses and said it's great for veggies (so I didn't worry about organic, I just want to produce something at this point LOL). I also put a bag of the manure in that bed, and the plants are doing great. But before I proceed to the additional beds really want to understand what I should do.

Now I'm planting fall garden. I tilled them up with a shovel and added a large bag of composted organic cow manure to each 4 x 6 bed (which is about 10-12" deep). Do I need to add anything else? Do I need to fertilize in addition to the manure. Do I really need a bag of that rose "soil" which also has fertilizer in it ? Clearly I am a novice when I comes to growing my own food - especially in raised beds. I've done some plants in the greenhouse and they did well, but out of 20 tomato plants this year I probably got 5 tomatoes. Sighing! Same thing with the green beans.

This fall I am planting lots of leafy greens (bok coy, chart, kale), radishes, carrots.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank You!
Www.carolmedfordart.com
My passion is painting but gardening is running a close second.

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ElPolloDiablo
Oct 17, 2021 1:34 AM CST
Most likely your soil is loaded with nitrogen (great for lush green showy growth) and poor in phosphorus and potassium. It's a very common issue when using "premium" bagged potting compound.

You can plant cabbages (including Brussels sprouts, kale, pak choi, cauliflowers etc) to use up the excess nitrogen during the cold season, then start over with a more production-geared fertilization next Spring and then shift over to a nitrogen-free fertilizer when plants are mature to stimulate production, otherwise most plants will happily lap up the extra nitrogen, grow like crazy and leave you with next to nothing to eat.
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Bee Lover Butterflies Birds I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Weedwhacker
Oct 17, 2021 8:10 AM CST
Ecscuba, do you have any photos of what your "non-producing" plants look like?
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Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Container Gardener Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Region: Alabama Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Oct 21, 2021 8:13 AM CST
Sandy's request for pictures is spot on...lots can be gleaned from seeing the plants.

And, what EPD said about too much nitrogen could be a problem.

Have you tested to see what the pH is of your planting mix?
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/

South Alabama Weather
Central Florida (Zone 9b)
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ladybug9112
Nov 2, 2021 8:06 AM CST
I am having the exact same problem after using the exact same products. Do you think making a banana peel tea with bone meal and lime would help? Thank you!
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Container Gardener Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Region: Alabama Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Nov 2, 2021 9:30 AM CST
Maybe add some different brand of potting mix in with your existing mix. Seems the Kellogg's stuff might not be that great of stuff. You can add what you mentioned to the mix, but a balanced fertilizer would be a good move if you're not going the "organic" route. Sometimes, the homemade fertilizers aren't exact recipes. With a commercial fertilizer you pretty well know what you're giving your plants...and they need a full meal...not a Atkin's Diet meal. Smiling
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/

South Alabama Weather
Central Florida (Zone 9b)
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ladybug9112
Nov 2, 2021 3:03 PM CST
I do try to go organic where I can, but I'm not opposed to a commercial fertilizer. I'm more opposed to commercial pesticides. Kellogg's has been great for my roses and fruit trees, but not so much my vegetables. Last year my beets and turnip greens never got bigger than an inch, but my cabbage and green onions were amazing. My zucchinis struggled too. I never got any zucchinis off of them. I just planted romaine lettuce and have some cucumbers growing in that bed now, so I'm trying to figure out how to amend the soil without pulling them out. Any suggestions? Thankfully, I had just planted white clover as a green mulch and they say that helps. I just ordered a soil tester, so lets see what it says. When I redo my beds I'll work in regular top soil, if its still acidic I'll work in some lime. Does that sound about right? Thank you for your help.
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
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NMoasis
Nov 2, 2021 3:56 PM CST
Ladybug, knowing your location, zone and climate would help, especially since you mention acidic soil and that you're growing cucumbers at this time of year. Hard to give specific advice without more info.

But generally, less is more. We get many inquiries about crop failures that often also describe the addition and mixing of so many products, fertilizers, amendments and home concoctions that it's difficult to figure out what might be wrong.

I tend to be in a minority when it comes to choosing bagged soil products for that reason—I seek out products that do NOT contain fertilizer. If you're growing leafy greens in one container and fruiting vines in another, they have different fertilizer requirements. So either you buy various bags of different products with different fertilizer ratios for each crop, or use/create your own soil and add fertilizer, compost and amendments as needed.

Until you test your soil and provide us with more info, I recommend adding nothing except compost and unfertilized garden soil. Do some research about soil composition... university and agricultural extension programs are good sources. Especially steer clear of cockamamie Internet recipes. Here's an article about banana tea.
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For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
[Last edited by NMoasis - Nov 2, 2021 3:58 PM (+)]
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Central Florida (Zone 9b)
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ladybug9112
Nov 2, 2021 6:51 PM CST
Ok will do. For clarity I am in Zone 9b. Central Florida. I am sorry I thought when it had me put in my zip code it was bringing me to a local forum. Thank you for your help.
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
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NMoasis
Nov 2, 2021 7:44 PM CST
Forgot to Welcome! you!

Kelloggs makes so many "soil" products the mind boggles. Any idea which one you used?

One of their garden soil products has this instruction on their website "...Kellogg Garden Organics All Natural Garden Soil for flowers and vegetables is designed to be mixed with your native soil for in-ground planting. "

That means it should be added to soil, not used straight. I don't see anything harmful but looks mighty rich for straight planting. It also lists "organic fertilizers" in ingredients, hard to tell what that means. If it's meant to be mixed, the package should should show the proportion. Do you still have the package? Are your beds in-ground or raised?

My suggestions remain the same. Get a complete soil test before adding anything more, although I can't see harm in adding plain garden soil as you said.
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Central Florida (Zone 9b)
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ladybug9112
Nov 3, 2021 6:54 AM CST
My beds are raised, so I mostly used their Raised Bed and Potting Mix with an occasional Potting Mix if there weren't enough raised bed mixes available. Both are meant to be used as-is straight out of the bag. My beds are a mix of topsoil and the raised bed mix at about a 1:1 ratio with half a 40lb bag per bed of composted cow manure mixed in. I mixed them because the first year I started I used only topsoil and cow manure, but when I re-worked them and added soil I used the Kelloggs mix. I hope this answers some of your questions. Thank you.
Central Florida (Zone 9b)
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ladybug9112
Nov 3, 2021 4:54 PM CST
So, I tested all my beds and .....surprise they are too alkaline Grin between 7.5 to 7.75 most of them. So should I add fish emulsion, Fertilome soil acidifier with iron, a regular granular fertilizer like miracle grow for veggies, or some combination there of? Thank you.
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Butterflies
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ScarletTricycle
Nov 3, 2021 5:35 PM CST
I think the suggestion for soil testing may be to go to your county extension office and ask what is needed to be done. I just did mine - borrowed a soil probed and plucked out however many cores from the area I wanted tested and sent to the state labs. This will give you a better picture for amending your soil. I believe you just checked the pH is only one piece of the puzzle.
I hear the passing echoes of winter and feel the warming spring on my face. ~Terri Guillemets
Central Florida (Zone 9b)
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ladybug9112
Nov 3, 2021 6:05 PM CST
Does it matter if I have raised beds? And is that literally what the office is called? Thank you!
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
Bookworm Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers
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NMoasis
Nov 3, 2021 7:02 PM CST
I agree with Scarlet Tricycle. Google "(your county) extension" and you'll get a few hits related to your state university agricultural extension service. Find info about soil testing. A complete test measures NPK and trace minerals. As ST said, pH is only part of the picture, and I think you already suspect that nutrients might be out of whack. The challenge with trying to correct imbalances on your own is gauging how much of what to add. Raised beds should be okay to test.
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Central Florida (Zone 9b)
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ladybug9112
Nov 3, 2021 7:04 PM CST
Ok great! Thank you both! I really appreciate it.
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
Bookworm Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers
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NMoasis
Nov 3, 2021 7:18 PM CST
Good luck Thumbs up
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Container Gardener Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Region: Alabama Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Nov 3, 2021 10:33 PM CST
ladybug9112 said:Does it matter if I have raised beds? And is that literally what the office is called? Thank you!


Here is a soil sample form for container growing media from the University of Florida. Put a pint/pound of soil in a paper bag a place in small box...maybe a cardboard envelope and mail it: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf%...

Cost is $10.00 and checks are made payable to "University of Florida".

Not affiliated with any of this, but knew I'd seen their soil test webpages and found this. I tip my hat to you.

The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/

South Alabama Weather
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Butterflies
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ScarletTricycle
Nov 4, 2021 4:50 AM CST
I did mine via University of Wisconsin: I provided the size of my bed, soil and the standard test checks for pH, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, organic matter % and need to lime or not. I paid $3 extra to get an analysis on calcium and magnesium. They also offer extra for soluble salts, boron, manganese and sulfur. When I talked to the Ag agent in my county he said some of these we don't do in general due to our water table. The key to your soil sample is to make sure you dig straight down for a good core sample, and I believe it was 8 -10 plugs from different areas of the bed mixed together in a ziploc. What I got back was a report of levels and what would be recommended for the size of my bed for application and pounds needed via my approximate square feet. Your local agent then can help you decipher your results.

Most extension programs are run through your states University system. In my state they are tied into the 4H program and offices at the county courthouse. And it doesn't hurt to give a call and ask questions they may have some suggestions for you right away. Most offices are staffed with an agronomist or ag agent. I tip my hat to you.
I hear the passing echoes of winter and feel the warming spring on my face. ~Terri Guillemets
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Nov 5, 2021 6:14 AM CST
State of the art for Alkaline soil is to add sulfur. For acid soil? Add wood ash for immediate results or lime for slower, longer acting results.

For both people with these raised beds... How much of the existing soil did you dig into and incorporate into the mix?

In Texas, the clay should help a lot... In florida? I can't understand where the alkalinity is coming from... most soils in the east are acidic... Maybe skip the sulfur and just mix in some of the sand under the bed?

I don't know what the extension protocol is in Florida or Texas, but in my area? Total waste of time. They only offered suggestions for chemical fertilizer, and my organic vegetables don't get doused in chems.

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