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What’s wrong with my pepper plants?

 
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Hello,


I’m not completely new to peppers but I have an issue I’m not sure what it is.   I know I started all my peppers way later than usual and last year gave my garden a complete vacation.   So I a, baffled as to what is wrong with my peppers.   Most the plants have good foliage but few is any blooms and even fewer fruit,   Less than 10 total with well over 20 plants.

I have attached some photos several plants are still very small as you see, planted in ground in April.  But the obvious ones I’m concerned about are the ones that have leaves on bottom but not on top.   The Carolina reapers were huge and beautiful when I planted them now they are horrible.   Can anyone see what is wrong?

My tomato’s are huge but only one plant with fruit and my corn looks great but the peppers suck.
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pioneer
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Location: North Texas, Zone 8a, Black Clay
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Possible herbicide damage? Either overspray or potentially brought in with manure, mulch, or compost that was recently added...

Just a theory, based on the irregular newer growth.  
 
pollinator
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I agree it's aminopyralid poisoning from contaminated manure or hay.
There are quite a few posts in permies discussing this.
Here's another good article:
https://www.tenthacrefarm.com/manure-garden/
 
Larry Versaw
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Except I never used manure or compost.   I only put in garden Scott’s garden soil.  When first planted I did use a spray that added vitamin e to them.   But if somehow that is the issue can I fix it or is my garden just junk this year?
 
Larry Versaw
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That definitely looks like my issue maybe but I haven’t used manure in over 2 and a half years.  Looks like I will little to no fruit this year.  I will have to try over water saturation and crushed charcoal this fall  and either make a new raised bed somewhere else or cut back to just a handful of plants in pots and just raise corn in my bed until I can correct this somehow.
 
May Lotito
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Location: Missouri. USA. Zone 6b
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Is it possible the garden soil is contaminated? Nightshades are especially sensitive to this type of herbicide. Squashes are less affected.

I brought in a truck load of aged horse manure and my tomato transplants immediately showed the filigree new growth just like your plants. I removed horse manure near the root zone and replaced with lots of home made compost. Gradually my tomatoes grew out of it and produced fruits, although the shapes were weirdly pointy they still tasted good. This year I still planted tomatoes and peppers in the same bed and both look normal. I believe compost and hence the active microbiome in the soil help degrading the herbicide.

You may move the peppers in new soil and grow something else in that bed.
 
Larry Versaw
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Yeah my garden has been worse every year the past 2 times I grew a garden so I did do a garden last year and this year is the worst yet.   I only added Scott’s garden soil so obviously from the manure 2 and 3 years ago I still have issues.   Is there a microbiome that I can start adding to the soil to help turn this around so that next year my garden is good?   Or would I be better trying to find a new spot?   Don’t have a lot of places I could go due to buried lines but I may be able to find a spot.  

The tomatoes look great plant wise it’s the peppers that are totally crap.   Even then the plants that do look good have no fruit so disappointing I had hoped that taking last year off would give me a bumper crop this year.
 
May Lotito
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When I bought the manure, the sell said the pile had aged 4 years. So the herbicide sure can remain for a long time. I didn't add specific innoculants, just made compost with yard waste, grass clipping and kitchen garbage. Just get something growing in that spot will send down roots in the soil, feed the beneficial microbes, increase organic matters and make the soil healthier.
I saw some peppers had milder symptoms, maybe those will outgrow this and produce later in the season.
 
J Youngman
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Sunflowers might be a good option to try growing there. The seed is cheap, you can get it in bulk sold as bird feed. Just make sure you chop them down when they start flowering if you don't want them re-seeding.
 
master steward
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Larry Versaw wrote:Except I never used manure or compost.   I only put in garden Scott’s garden soil.  When first planted I did use a spray that added vitamin e to them.   But if somehow that is the issue can I fix it or is my garden just junk this year?



First, I would like to ask what kind of soil do you have and what kind of water do you have? I feel the answers to these questions will help our forum members answer your question.

We had a similar situation with our bell pepper so we quit trying to grow them. We started with good soil though I feel over time it was our water that caused the problem.

Since your pepper plants may or may not be a loss this year, I would like to suggest that you try some experiments to see what happens.

It looks like there may be enough plants that you could try different methods by setting aside areas to try.

Try adding compost tea to some, a good quality organic fertilizer to another area, etc.

Maybe bone meal in another and fish emulsion in another.

Here are some threads that might help:

https://permies.com/t/42212/improving-soil#355090

https://permies.com/t/63914/Soil

 
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Hi Larry,
I would add to what Anne asked about the soil. Can you do a soil test? If I were to take the pepper plants out of the equation and just look at the corn doing great, huge tomato plants with few to no tomatos... that sound like too much nitrogen. Corn loves nitrogen, and it will make huge plants and not much fruit. Too much nitrogen can also make plants more susceptible to diseases, which is what I might suggest happened to the peppers.

Neither Scotts garden soil or 2 year old horse manure should have had very high nitrogen. I'm not sure where it could have come from, but it sounds like a classic case of too much nitrogen. Try doing some research and see if it matches what you are getting.
 
Larry Versaw
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Anne Miller wrote:

Larry Versaw wrote:Except I never used manure or compost.   I only put in garden Scott’s garden soil.  When first planted I did use a spray that added vitamin e to them.   But if somehow that is the issue can I fix it or is my garden just junk this year?



First, I would like to ask what kind of soil do you have and what kind of water do you have? I feel the answers to these questions will help our forum members answer your question.

We had a similar situation with our bell pepper so we quit trying to grow them. We started with good soil though I feel over time it was our water that caused the problem.

Since your pepper plants may or may not be a loss this year, I would like to suggest that you try some experiments to see what happens.

It looks like there may be enough plants that you could try different methods by setting aside areas to try.

Try adding compost tea to some, a good quality organic fertilizer to another area, etc.

Maybe bone meal in another and fish emulsion in another.

Here are some threads that might help:

https://permies.com/t/42212/improving-soil#355090

https://permies.com/t/63914/Soil



I added miracle grow garden soil. I add several bags every year.  As for water just the simple water from my tap in back of my house.  I have used the same setup for a decade I didn’t do a garden last year to rest the garden space and the previous 2 years were not great but way better than this year and previous to then have had bumper crops each year,   Still have many pounds of peppers in freezer from 2018
 
Larry Versaw
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Matt McSpadden wrote:Hi Larry,
I would add to what Anne asked about the soil. Can you do a soil test? If I were to take the pepper plants out of the equation and just look at the corn doing great, huge tomato plants with few to no tomatos... that sound like too much nitrogen. Corn loves nitrogen, and it will make huge plants and not much fruit. Too much nitrogen can also make plants more susceptible to diseases, which is what I might suggest happened to the peppers.

Neither Scotts garden soil or 2 year old horse manure should have had very high nitrogen. I'm not sure where it could have come from, but it sounds like a classic case of too much nitrogen. Try doing some research and see if it matches what you are getting.



Yeah the corn is doing great but with that it isn’t time to start producing ears of corn yet.   But the tomatoes are HUGH but almost no fruit.   The peppers that do look ok have almost no fruit either.   I have a soil test kit but not sure how to use it,  some kingpin of tablets I will have to try this weekend to do the tests to see what they say.   Sunflowers look great so far too   My guess is I will have plenty of corn with only a handful of peppers and tomato’s.  Pretty much a complete wash.
 
Anne Miller
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Larry Versaw wrote:Except I never used manure or compost.   I only put in garden Scott’s garden soil.  When first planted I did use a spray that added vitamin e to them.   But if somehow that is the issue can I fix it or is my garden just junk this year?



Anne Miller said "First, I would like to ask what kind of soil do you have and what kind of water do you have? I feel the answers to these questions will help our forum members answer your question.



Larry wrote: added miracle grow garden soil. I add several bags every year.  As for water just the simple water from my tap in back of my house.  I have used the same setup for a decade I didn’t do a garden last year to rest the garden space and the previous 2 years were not great but way better than this year and previous to then have had bumper crops each year,   Still have many pounds of peppers in freezer from 2018



I feel it is important to know more about the actual dirt in your garden.  Not things that you added.

I feel it is important to know about what kind of water you are using to water your plants.  Is it well water or chlorinated city water, etc?

 
Larry Versaw
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City water,  the bed is raised 3 inches on one side and 6 on the other as the ground is not level  I simply put dirt over the years on top and till twice a year

 
Larry Versaw
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Ok I have the ph test done.  These test kits are hard for me as the color of the water soil mixture never really matches the color chart lol.  But it looks like the ph is somewhere around. 6.0 to 6.5.  I am waiting for the mixture to settle to run nitrogen phosphorus and potash.
 
Larry Versaw
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Well here are my nitrogen tests problem is it doesn’t look like any of the result colors.  It just looks like water with dirt in it. Lol.  So if you can tell what the results are please tell me. This is why I hate these soil tests cause it all just looks like dirty water.
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Larry Versaw
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If anything it looks closer to depleted but the corn and sunflowers are so good that that doesn’t seem right
 
Larry Versaw
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Phosphorus test appears to be either adequate or sufficient one can’t tell for sure
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Larry Versaw
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Potash. I can’t  tell but looks either adequate or deficient can’t really tell.  So the nitrogen is the most puzzling and hardest to tell what it is but it appears that these tests show that either nitrogen may be low, not sure again can’t really tell.  Or that this is herbicide poisoning some how.  


Some of the leaves on a couple of plants appear to be getting slightly better but then most the other peppers are starting to look the same as the worst ones.  I’m at a loss
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Larry Versaw
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Here are some better pictures of my issue close up of leaves comparing one plant that is doing well and producing large peppers while the plant right beside is is small weird leaves some blooms but no fruit no production.   Some with yellow leaves with splotches while also showing how good the corn and sunflowers are and even though tomatoes are huge, well half of them, only two plants have any fruit.  Between my shown test results and the new pictures can this help anyone narrow down my issue?  Something than can be fixed for next year?  Or is this garden spot just forever toasted?
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J Youngman
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Could it be overspray from lawn care or a neighbor? Or possibly something you sprayed from a container previously used for herbicide?
 
Larry Versaw
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Only thing I sprayed was a vitamin e vegetable spray.  And my neighbors done even mow much less spray anything
 
Larry Versaw
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And the weeds are not having any trouble growing either
 
Matt McSpadden
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Larry Versaw wrote:And the weeds are not having any trouble growing either



Lol

You mention the sunflowers, tomatoes, and corn is all doing well. However, I see similar yellowing and spots on both the sunflower and the tomato. One of the tomatoes appears to have blossom end rot (though the picture is not good). Yellowing of the leaves is almost always a nutrition deficiency. However, the cause could be the nutrients aren't there, or there is not enough water to make it available, or there are pests stealing the water or nutrients.

I'm not an expert, just trying to throw out ideas to see if something matches or gets the experts thinking. I would check water. Dig down a few inches or try the chopstick method. Check all the leaves at different times of day to rule out pests. Do you ever move your plants around? Could this be a disease built up in the soil? You mention the last couple years have been the worst. It definitely sounds like something is out of whack and the plants can't get the nutrients or maybe there is disease built up.

For the future, do you have the space to try a garden in a different spot? Maybe till some manure into this garden, plant clover or something and let it sit for a year?
 
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Are you in one of the places getting soaked? Could be a factor.
 
Anne Miller
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S Ydok wrote:Are you in one of the places getting soaked? Could be a factor.



Those were my thoughts regarding the yellow leaves.

From the earlier pictures of the pepper plants and since it is not chemicals from manure or overspray, I would suggest trying to take the chlorine out of your city water by drawing the water a day ahead of time and let the chlorine dissipate.   I have read that really helps.

Since you seem to not feel trying organic fertilizing methods would help as you have not mentioned my suggestions.  What about bringing in a safe source of wood chips.  Wood chips are one of the very best applications that you can do to build up your soil.
 
Larry Versaw
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Well we have got a lot of rain lately and that could be the yellowing but I’m more concerned by the fact that the tops of the plants are curled and virtually leafless while mid to bottom have leaves and no fruit.  


As for fertilizers I have used manure before and as for letting the soil rest I did that last summer by not doing a garden.


The ONLY thing I can think of at this point that could be a link is that all plants except the corn and sunflowers  were sprayed with the bottle in the picture below.  And they really are the only ones doing great.   Tomato’s are big plant wise but no fruit.

I used that spray every 3 days for about a month and I stopped because they started looking as they are in the pictures.

Shouldn’t be this but that is the ONLY link I can find or think of as to why those I sprayed are bad and those I didn’t are good.
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J Youngman
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Did you shake it up before applying? Ingredient could have separated in the bottle. Especially if it has been sitting on a shelf extra time due to the lockdowns.
 
pollinator
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How much do you trust Scott's garden soil in the first place? I mean.... I wouldn't really trust their soil considering what other products they produce and market. Even feed suppliers like Purina have been known to "accidentally" include ingredients that are poisonous to the animals it's intended for... so I don't really see how something like soil that's even less regulated would be immune to corporate blunders. Like basically everybody already said, it looks like there's herbicide in the soil based on which plants are tolerating it vs failing to thrive. I would bet that the product you purchased just was not up to standard in the first place.
 
Larry Versaw
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Sarah Koster wrote:How much do you trust Scott's garden soil in the first place? I mean.... I wouldn't really trust their soil considering what other products they produce and market. Even feed suppliers like Purina have been known to "accidentally" include ingredients that are poisonous to the animals it's intended for... so I don't really see how something like soil that's even less regulated would be immune to corporate blunders. Like basically everybody already said, it looks like there's herbicide in the soil based on which plants are tolerating it vs failing to thrive. I would bet that the product you purchased just was not up to standard in the first place.

. This year I put in I think 5 or 6 large bags of Scott’s garden soil.   If the underground lines are so that I can I will try to move the garden to another location build up a 6 inch bed and have topsoil brought in.  Maybe that would be the way to go next year.
 
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Hi Larry,
I'm afraid I don't have any great advice for you. In fact, if I don't have anything good to say I usually say nothing at all. I just hate to be Debbie Downer! But I've been in your shoes a few times and I know how it feels to be so mystified when you're trying so hard..... so I just thought this time it might be better to just rip the band-aid off for you so you will stop suffering.

I have been buying bags of dirt for 10 years now. I use them to grow my seedlings, I pot up dozens of shrubs and flowers that I propagate each year and I usually add a lot to my garden when I am putting out new seedlings just like you do. But these last few years I've noticed that each different brand of dirt I try is worse than the last. I bought a new brand in February to start seeds for all my brassicas. They loved it. Added it to my garden when I planted them out and I was enjoying broccoli and cabbages by May 1st. So I bought 20 bags and did the same for all my other vegies and they hated it! Had to change dirt and start my seedlings over again but I still added it to my garden beds. And my pretty seedlings were not happy! I finally managed to get them back on track by adding a lot of my finished compost which is always in short supply but it did the trick.

So, time to pull off the band-aid.....

For lots of years I worked at hardware stores/garden centers. And I heard boat loads of complaints about the type of soil test you were using. They never worked for me either and online they also get a lot of bad reviews.

If I have a problem I often check out the gardenprofessors.com. They are really smart people and they love science. And this is what they had to say about bags of dirt, not just potting soils but all soils-
https://gardenprofessors.com/potting-soil-poison/

I checked out your bags of  'Scotts Garden dirt' and here are some of the most recent reviews I found on their website. Lots of their customers are having your kind of problems. They are not happy!
https://www.scotts.com/en-us/products/mulch-soil-garden/scotts-premium-garden-soil

And the gardenprofessors didn't have anything good or bad to say about your Super-Thrive-
https://gardenprofessors.com/super-thriving-lettuce/  so it probably had nothing to do with your issues.

If I have a plant with a problem I often google the words 'mineral deficiencies in (whatever plant I'm researching) say, pepper plants and look at the pictures (Images) and read the descriptions (starts with lower leaves, etc.) But I suspect you have multiple problems thanks to Scotts. And it's not uncommon to have some plants like my broccoli be very happy while others simply can't take it.

I didn't want to bring you down. Just wanted to let you know you are not alone, it wasn't your fault and you can just mix that dirt all around your beds next year and add something better. Sorry Larry.

Debbie Downer.... over and out.
 
Debbie Ann
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When you go to the Scotts website to read the reviews....change the rating from 'Highest to lowest rating' to.... 'Lowest to highest rating. Just saying.
 
pollinator
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I had very similar plant growth on my citrus after repotting with an organic potting soil. I'm pretty sure it was contaminated with a persistent herbicide. After repotting with a new potting mix that I make myself, the citrus are all miraculously growing perfect healthy leaves. The old ones were twisted and thin.

My peppers are growing in nutrient depleted soils and most are doing well with good leaf structure. At worst they're not setting fruit but then it's been 20-30F above normal here the past few weeks. About half are setting fruit and even some tomatoes have set fruit after the 105+F week we had.
 
gardener
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hugelkultur trees woodworking
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Larry, I had similar problems with my peppers this year, with the leaves curling, or wilting, or falling off, and I think it was a fungus of some kind.  

Wondering if maybe the potting soil spread it?  I didn’t use any in my beds, but unfortunately didn't get peppers started in time and ended up buying some at a nursery.
 
Larry Versaw
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Ok so an update now that it is 10 days since the last post on this thread. The Carolina reapers appear to be growing new leaves on top where they had been shriveled up at.  So they may not be producing but they are STILL fighting and trying.
 
Yeah. What he said. Totally. Wait. What? Sorry, I was looking at this tiny ad:
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