• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • paul wheaton
  • Devaka Cooray
stewards:
  • Burra Maluca
  • Miles Flansburg
  • Julia Winter
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • Anne Miller
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Mark Tudor
  • Pearl Sutton

Container Gardening Issues  RSS feed

  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi all! I have searched and searched this site and still haven't found similar issue and answer in an existing thread so I thought I'd start a new one.  Here's the problem:

I am in Zone 6 (I think, it's central Ky).  I live in an apartment and have a screened in patio that is surrounded for the most part by trees and bushes.  We get light in specific areas at certain times of day so I have marked it and tracked it to be sure my plants are getting the most optimal amount of sun I can give them.  

I planted a few kale, red leaf lettuce and butter lettuce as reap and regrow options, along with some other plants that are doing well.  The greens are my problem plants.  I started from seedlings purchased from a reputable farmer at the farmers' market. In the pots I have organic potting soil and have kept my plants well watered, done worm tea, and a fish emulsion. My lettuces after 1 harvesting never regrew, and turned very very paper like, got spots and turned brown and are basically dead.  The soil on the surface was dry and almost crusty, but just beneath the surface was black and moist like it just came from the bag.  My Kale has the same issue, it has not died yet but isn't growing at all! It's soil is dry and crusty with what looks like a film over it. But still looks moist and healthy just under the surface.  What are your thoughts and some ideas I can work with to get this kale growing and keep my next batch of lettuce alive long enough to eat?

Thanks!
~Emilia
 
pollinator
Posts: 1105
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
55
kids trees urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hm, hard to tell from just this info...how many hours of sun does it add up to in the sunny patches of the porch?  might the compost have had persistent herbicides in it?

If all else fails, the best thing to do is to do nothing, in my opinion, and observe what happens.  What answer does nature bring to the situation? what information is there?  the principle of "accept feedback" is easier to apply if you give it more time.

It may be that the plants are going through a phase of adapting to new conditions, and it just has to take its time.

If you don't have enough light, then shadier plants may be required...though kale should at least survive and put out a weak yield even in shade, so I think you've got something else funky going on.

Over all, I think doing so many things (fish emulsion, tea, buying compost) is what's causing the main problem--the problem of not knowing what's going on--and the problem of the dying plants.  The first problem is a bigger one--if you don't really know what's going on, anything you do to fix it will potentially make things worse, addressing symptoms rather than root causes.  If you "read the book of nature" as Sepp Holzer tells people to do, and do less, observe observe observe, then you'll solve the more valuable problem to solve.  

The one other thought I have is if it were me I'd throw some wood in the bottom of the containers under the soil, to give a mini hugel-bed effect.  It might not do much but it does do something.  sepp holzer has a bathtub design with a big rotten trunk through the soil and up above to double as  a trellis, the bottom soaking in a big tray that catches rain water underneath the bathtub.  It's a great design but probably too heavy, unless you know for sure the load-bearing capacity of your floor there and calcuate the weight of the tub plus soil plus water plus growing plans...

Good luck, I hope you find a way to have the plants get healthy, and let us know what you discover!
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1105
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
55
kids trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another thought, you might have an easier time growing edible "weeds"/wild plants such as violets, dandelions, plantain.  Or one forage chicory that will keep producing.  Lettuce is highly bred, kale too...but to me, greens taste about the same no matter what they start out like when you put salad dressing on them.

(Sort of like the butter theory.  I know some of you know what I'm talking about.)
 
gardener
Posts: 2447
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
443
books food preservation hunting solar trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One other thing that comes to mind.  We cut our Nevada lettuce and while it's not a "cut and come again" style, it often resprouts and gives us another head.  When it doesn't, it gets dry, grey, papery, spotted and dies.  

If you're sure the varieties you have are conducive to cutting and regrowing, maybe you're cutting them off too low?

I wouldn't worry too much about the killer compost if they grew heads in the first place.  And greens typically need less sun than fruiting annuals (tomatoes, peppers).  So depending on what other plants you have that are doing well, sun may not be the problem for the greens.
 
I can't renounce my name. It's on all my stationery! And hinted in this tiny ad:
It's like binging on 7 seasons of your favorite netflix permaculture show
http://permaculture-design-course.com/
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!