Garden Troubleshooting - Garden In Bad Shape - Too Many Variables :(

Nifty

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Ugh!

I'm in no way a garden expert. Sometimes I've just gotten lucky, but most of the times my garden has disappointed me. I see other gardens that have SUPER lush huge vibrant green plants with tremendous production

... and I'm stuck with plants (most vegetables) that barely grow or produce.

I feel like I'm doing most things "good enough" that they should be growing, but I keep running into stunted, yellowing, dying plants. :(

So, how do I go about troubleshooting when there are SOOO many variables?
  • Soil type/health
  • Water amount (too much / little)
  • Sun (too much / little)
  • Temperature
  • Bugs
  • Disease
  • etc. etc. etc.
A great example: Our basil is one of the few plants that is SUPER flourishing... but then we have two that COMPLETELY died (in the front of the picture), almost as though they were hit with herbicide:

1631656006024.png


... then we have tomatoes that are just scrawny and bare:
1631656084217.png



... then there's the zucchini. It grows a bit, then dies, then tries to grow some more. (oh and the weird volunteer lettuce thing next to it is thriving???):
1631656466550.png



I wish some magic garden expert could just come over and say, "OK, after testing your soil, plants, water, sun, etc., your problems are very specifically xyz, and here is exactly what you need to do to fix the problems!"

... I just don't know if that's possible :(
 

bobm

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Ugh!

I'm in no way a garden expert. Sometimes I've just gotten lucky, but most of the times my garden has disappointed me. I see other gardens that have SUPER lush huge vibrant green plants with tremendous production

... and I'm stuck with plants (most vegetables) that barely grow or produce.

I feel like I'm doing most things "good enough" that they should be growing, but I keep running into stunted, yellowing, dying plants. :(

So, how do I go about troubleshooting when there are SOOO many variables?
  • Soil type/health
  • Water amount (too much / little)
  • Sun (too much / little)
  • Temperature
  • Bugs
  • Disease
  • etc. etc. etc.
A great example: Our basil is one of the few plants that is SUPER flourishing... but then we have two that COMPLETELY died (in the front of the picture), almost as though they were hit with herbicide:

View attachment 43790

... then we have tomatoes that are just scrawny and bare:
View attachment 43791


... then there's the zucchini. It grows a bit, then dies, then tries to grow some more. (oh and the weird volunteer lettuce thing next to it is thriving???):
View attachment 43792


I wish some magic garden expert could just come over and say, "OK, after testing your soil, plants, water, sun, etc., your problems are very specifically xyz, and here is exactly what you need to do to fix the problems!"

... I just don't know if that's possible :(ct
Nifty ... contact your county ag. office, they will help you to answer most of your specific questions. Also try UCD School of Agriculture ... one of their scientists can also help. I used them in the past and they are very good in solving problems. :caf
 

digitS'

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All gardening is local, Nifty ☝️.

Is it possible that you are using commercial compost? I have real trouble finding decent stuff. If it's okay one year, it won't be the next. And, I can add to it for a potting mix but some, I wouldn't want to include as an ingredient.

Don't get me wrong, I'm in favor of municipalities making compost. However, since they are such large outfits, that seems to be where most of what is available is coming from. The operators need some lessons! Maybe a soil scientist can set up some kind of product grading system ...

We don't expect "compost" to rob plants of nutrients. It just ain't right.

Steve
 

Gardening with Rabbits

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I have no answers. I could almost be writing the same post with my garden. I have had years of just unhealthy plants and then years of amazing. This year I kind of paid more attention and noticed what happened when I had a lot of cow manure, normal amount, and hardly any. The manure came late and was not ready to use. I planted pole beans in different places. The places close to the manure had huge leaves. I never had pole beans with leaves so big. It took those plants awhile to produce beans. The ones that had normal amount had a lot of beans and not as big leaves but grew tall. I had another spot that I did not add any of the new manure. I thought there was enough of the rabbit compost. They barely grew compared to the other beans, but they did have beans. I might have thought they were just fine if I had not see the other beans.

Last year I had squash plants I would have thought okay, except one year I had a zucchini plant come back from seed right where we walked and I let it grow and we had to go around it and it was huge compared to the ones I had planted. This year the plants are as tall as my waist or higher. I am not sure if that is normal. They got so big they grew towards the other plants and hard to even see where the squash is and lose some that get huge, but over on the other side where I had the composted rabbit manure they look about like they did the last few years, but barely produced and have lighter colored leaves. I even fertilized them extra and it did not do anything for them. I have been fooling myself that this rabbit manure is composted down enough, I think.

None of my tomato plants look like much. I am thinking of just buying tomato plants next year. I have tomatoes, but they just do not look like tomato plants I see other people post pictures of.

My weed patch is unreal. I am going to get it cleared up if I can and try to put some shredded leaves down and spread the rest of the manure and try not to plant things so close or as much. I actually have to weed the manure pile before I can load it up in a wheelbarrow. All the fun as left this year. I feel overworked and overwhelmed. I hate to think I cannot have as big of a garden, but I think it is just do not plant things so close and I might be happier. The weeds overtook my oregano and I have to admit I have been planting basil all wrong. Your basil looks wonderful. I made it such a chore taking each single little basil plant and transplanting :hide that I did not even plant any this year. I wish I was an expert and had answers, but I am still learning all the time. I can't believe some of the crazy things I have done. lol
 

AMKuska

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I'd suggest starting with a soil sample sent to your local agriculture office. Soil tests aren't terribly expensive, but they can really enlighten you as to what problems are with the soil--or to prove it's not the soil so you can focus on other things.
 

flowerbug

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when you have multiple garden sites to deal with and diagnose it really calls for someone to visit and walk around and take a look at the various gardens. an experienced gardener can spot issues.

i don't post tomato pictures on TEG this time of the season because by now they
normally look like they've been through a war. a good enough crop this season
but the plants are pretty sad. same for some of the squash plants, but there are
still squash back there.
 

digitS'

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Most everything is "going down" in September.

It would be a difficult time for me, a layman gardener, to assess problems. Example: my current fretting that the potato plants may have, or be fixing' to have, a tuber problem because they are dying back at the end of their season.

Just looking at Plant Senescence in Wikipedia ;). There are beneficial reasons for the process. The leaves of perinneals have lost some efficiency over the months. In northern regions, they cannot be protected from the cold. Did you know that the tree itself is usually responsible for leaves changing color and dropping off? Leaf senescence.​

Annuals have a vast gene pool at the beginning of each growing season. Attacks by pests and disease are met with a genetic resilience of an entire population of different and somewhat unique plants. It is a reason for saving seed from selected plants but still encouraging diversity in our gardening :).​
Nifty, select varieties that your neighbors find successful. And, start the growing season with an eye on your plants and keep it up, day after day, week after week.

Steve
 

seedcorn

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It’s always good to talk to locals-other gardeners, extension agents, etc.

First-plants in pots are tricky as they are extremes-too wet, too dry, not enough food, too much food, pH swings, etc.

Planted in ground, much easier. Fortify the soil, keep moisture in ground-not soaked, and sunlight, you will be successful. (Bugs also like 5hat environment but that's another discussion.
 

Zeedman

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+1 on the comments above, regarding other local gardeners & Extension agents (who would be your best knowledge base) and getting your soil tested. Look for successful gardens nearby, those gardeners would probably be happy to give you good advice.

All that being said, a couple observations:

I notice that the basil is watered by drip lines; the problem could be that the lines by the dead plants have become clogged.

The zucchini has a very long stem, so it has grown "tired" - especially this late in the season. Presumably it was producing until recently? It is actually remarkable that it is attempting to produce a new, healthier plant from the base. The red-leaf plant nearby is red mustard, which is a good (and spicy) cool-weather green. That was part of my winter garden when I gardened in Palo Alto, next to Stevens Creek.

The weather could be part of the problem with the tomato. You get cool temperatures and occasional fog... tomatoes like neither. This is the area where local gardeners are likely to be most helpful, since variety & best planting time are likely to increase the chance of success. The tomatoes may do better if planted directly in the ground, especially if they are an indeterminate variety with a large root system... determinate or dwarf varieties would be your best bets for pots. And as others have already pointed out, many of us have tomatoes that look like that right now, so you are not alone in that regard. ;)
 

flowerbug

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one thing you can do at the end of the season for potted plants is turn the pots out and examine the root structure to see how well they did. if you find a large root clump with roots spread throughout the entire pot then you know you've done pretty well and perhaps could go a bit bigger pots for that specific plant the next season, but otherwise you might observe that the plant isn't filling in very well in the medium and that can be a combination of factors from the medium itself not being the right type to the plant having trouble from the heat or not getting enough water or nutrients (and of course sunlight too).
 
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