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Pepper plants dropping leaves, stunted and purple  RSS feed

 
Posts: 8
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
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Good Morning!

I have several varieties of peppers that I planted in a brand new raised bed. The peppers were seedlings from a reputable urban farm in my city.

All of them are stunted, some are turning purple in leaf and stem and most are dropping leaves.  In fact, everything in these new beds seem a little stunted this year.  I purchased what I thought was a high quality soil but when I did a soil test it appeared perhaps low in nitrogen and phosphorous. (the test was a cheap one- hard to read results)

I have fertilized with diluted urine and liberated some hummus from the wood lot behind my house in an effort to get things moving but my peppers are truly sad looking and there are only a few tomato plants in the new bed that seem to be doing OK.

Any thoughts on what else I could do to get things moving?  I've never had this issue before, so I'm a little at a loss.

Thank you!!
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garden master
Posts: 4785
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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your bed has serious nutrient defects judging by the color of those pepper plants.
I would add rocks dusts and green sand to get the minerals in that new bed for this years plants.

You need to make some good compost and then brew a compost tea too, I don't think you have much of a microbiome in that bed right now and building up the microorganism numbers will do wonders for your vegetables.

How did you make this bed? was there a lot of tillage involved (double digging etc.)?
What type of additions did you make to this bed's soil?
How long did that bed get to rest before you started planting into it?

These questions are asked so I can give you better, more specific recommendations as to how to fix it both short term and long term.

Redhawk
 
Dee Milani
Posts: 8
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
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Hi There thanks for the reply!

It is a raised bed to which I added soil from a landscaping company which claimed to be "PH balanced premium garden soil"  Tosh. 

I've used triple mix in the past for new beds and have never had this issue, so I'm annoyed by the poor quality soil I paid good money for.

I didn't add anything to it and didn't till it at all.  It rested all of a week before I started planting, which I'm sure wasn't ideal. 

This is a new house, so I haven't got my compost pile up and cracking yet.  Would garden centre compost be ok? 

I can get rock dust, but I've never heard of green sand, will have to investigate that.  For those two, could I add them to the top of the bed and let seepage do the work for me or would I till that in? 

Again, thank you for taking the time to help!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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In your photo the "soil" looks a lot like "potting soil" which is actually a poor grade, almost compost, no real soil (mineral based dirt + microorganisms) in that stuff usually.

I would recommend you check for a municipal compost if possible, if not, then ask the garden center where their compost comes from and if they know what goes into that compost. (many times you will find herbicide residues in garden center compost)

Rock dust is just sprinkled over the surface and left to infiltrate, this is the best method for all amendments really.
Green sand is called that because it contains some kelp, if you can't find it just stick with rock dust, once you get your microbiome going strong you won't need it anymore most likely.

Any time I go to buy something like "soil" or "compost" I do a feel and smell test of what I am looking at.
Our hands can tell us a lot about composition of the material and the nose can tell you if it is or isn't microbiologically active (nice fresh dirt smell is what we want to smell).
 
Dee Milani
Posts: 8
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
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Hi Again!

My city does give away municipal compost for free, so it is certainly an option.  I just always worry about what might be in it.....should I not worry to much about that?  In theory it should just contain whatever people put in their yard waste bins and green bins but is there a concern with dog feces or anything like that?  I imagine it is thoroughly hot composted but....

Thanks so much for all the amazing guidance.  In your opinion, if I get right at all of what you suggested, can I still salvage this growing season?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Posts: 4785
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Oh yes indeed you can salvage this season, those plants will make a comeback once you get some nutrients into the soil.
rock dust and some Epsom salts will do wonders for the nutrient base, then all you need are some microbes.
Instead of buying compost from the garden center, see if they happen to have some mycorrhizae for sale, the fungi will be one of the best things you can do both for this season and every season after (one application will do it if you just cut off the plants when they die back instead of pulling up the roots).

If you have any concern about municipal compost, just bring it home and put it into a new compost heap with some greens added to the center of the heap, wet it down and let it re-cook then use it after around a month of extra decomposition.

I looked again at your garden soil, it does appear to have some "clay" balls on the surface, check those to see if they are grey inside, that means they used some sort of "sludge". (this is usually not a horrible thing, most comes from pond bottoms and grey is the color of bentonite clay)
 
Dee Milani
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Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
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THANK YOU!!!

One last question- promise.

The Epsom salts...would this be instead of green sand if I can't find it or in addition to the green sand?  Also- can I use the stuff I get in the grocery store or is there different grades or the like?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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The Epsom salts comes from the grocery store, it is high in magnesium sulfate two items plants love to have available.

Green sand contains many trace minerals, if you can find it, it is a good item to add to first built garden beds just to make sure that first year that as many nutrients as possible are available to your plants.

The real key to any garden bed is to have a full microbiology in the soil as soon as you can get it there.
The microorganisms all work in concert to form a mutually beneficial ecosystem when plants are present.
Together they complete the hoop of life that involves the plant kingdom.

rock dusts come from various types of rocks, that means different products will have different mineral profiles so you have to do some label reading and note taking to try for as complete a nutrient profile as possible.
What ever is missing will probably be in the rocks on site, it is the enzymes secreted by the microorganisms that make those already present minerals available to the plants.
the mycorrhizae transport these freed up minerals into the root cells so the plant can utilize them.
 
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What brand of straw is that? I recently bought standlee forage straw and all my plants looked like that. Beans, cucumbers, tomatillo, tomatoes, the sunflowers were stunted etc.
 
Dee Milani
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Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
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Hi Charlie,

My issues began before the straw.  It was just some straw a farmer friend of mine gave me.  It ended up being full of seeds so I tossed most of it in the compost pile.  Figures, the only thing that seemed happy in my garden was the one thing I didn't want to grow!
 
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