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Can somebody tell me what I am doing wrong?

Hi! I am growing a few different fruit bearing plants in our parking lot at the office. I have two fig trees, which are thriving, but my kumquat is in major trouble.

I bought it 2 months ago and it was just an exuberant bush about 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide at that time, with lots of leaves and a tons of mini kumquats just starting.

I planted it in regular organic potting soil in a self watering container, which was at least twice the size of the 3? 5? gallon container I had bought it in.

At first it seemed to be doing OK but soon started dropping lots of fruit. I looked up the problem and saw mention that it is normal for a bush to drop a good portion of its fruit if it will not be able to support it all.

Then it started dropping leaves and it has been dropping leaves for a month now. Most of them drop off while they are still entirely green. Some of them have large brown blotches on them. Some of them fall off with the stem and on others just the main leaf fell off, with the little stub remaining on the branch (unless those are from fruit that dropped).

I have not let the container go dry. There is a large container at the bottom, so it always has plenty of water, though I do not have to water it anywhere near as much as my fig trees.

I have left all the leaves and dropped fruit in the top of the container as I assumed it would just deteriorate and be "fertilizer" but maybe I should have been picking up the fallen fruit. Right now it is not dropping fruit anymore, but the leaves are still dropping every day. Now there are sections of branches which have no leaves at all left. :|

Does anybody know where I am amiss here?

I am trying to grow all the plants organically, so if somebody knows what is wrong and could propose an organic solution/remedy that would be fabulous.

I am in Los Angeles, Zone 10. Plant is out in the lot near a fence and is getting sun for most of the day.

Thank you.

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Re: Can somebody tell me what I am doing wrong?

I'm pretty sure it's the self watering pot. Citrus needs good drainage and needs to dry between waterings or it can easily get root rot. Actually fig can be the same way, but because figs are thirsty plants it can probably handle the excess soil moisture better.

...I'm not sure if being out in the parking lot exposed to all the exhaust fumes and asphalt vapors is the best "organic" climate.... :|
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Re: Can somebody tell me what I am doing wrong?

I agree, they need to be well drained and to dry out a little between waterings. That doesn't happen in the self watering container. Some of those containers, you can just remove the bottom reservoir part.

However, there is also a citrus disease called alternaria brown spot. (I know kumquat is not actually a citrus, but it is also affected by alternaria.) You did mention the brown blotches on leaves. Here's a picture:

Image ... rnaria.jpg

Leaf - initial foliar lesions occur on young tissue as small brown to black spots that develop prominent yellow halos. Lesions expand into irregular or circular necrotic areas which can involve large portions of the leaf, especially on highly susceptible cultivars like 'Minneola'. A fungal toxin is produced that can cause necrosis and chlorosis along the veins extending from lesions. Lesions are flat and visible on both sides on the leaf. Older lesions have a brittle paper-like texture in the middle of the lesions ... Alternaria
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Re: Can somebody tell me what I am doing wrong?

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question.

What you say about the watering makes sense. The fig trees are in smaller size pots and the bottom tray will go totally dry if I do not water at least every 36 hours. The kumquat is in a pot twice the size and it does not need water more than every few days and even then it never goes completely dry. The soil has definitely been staying moist - much more than with the figs.

I took off the tray on the bottom and will let it dry up before watering again.

I don't think it looks like the disease mentioned. The leaves with have fallen off have very large blotches covering half to 3/4 of the leaf. Most of the leaves look healthy but there are some odd spots on some of the tips and edges, but they look more orange.

I'm going to try to attach some photos I snapped today.

And yes - I realize trying to have an "organic garden" in a parking lot sounds like hypocracy but I have neither a balcony nor even a sunny window sill in my gloomy little apartment, so I gotta work with what I got :(
2.jpg (44.82 KiB) Viewed 2127 times

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Re: Can somebody tell me what I am doing wrong?

I am not a fan of and never recommend self watering pots or pots set in saucers. Problems, problems and more problems. Second issue is that fruit trees are TREES. Get a larger pot. I scrounge big box garden centers and local nurseries for plain old black nursery pots. They do not look great but spray paint cures that problem. See if you can get your hands on a 10 to 15 gallon pot. Gently remove your plant from the pot. Inspect the roots. If they are mushy or if the soil smells funky gently rinse off the soil. Clip off any mushy roots. Fill the new pot with all purpose soil to within 1" of the rim and plant with soil no higher up on the trunk than it currently is. Use plain soil - no fertilizer. The root system needs to get established. Remove all of the fruit. Your plant will sacrifice fruit in order to sustain itself. Removing the fruit reduces the stress on the root system.

You mention a parking lot so I am assuming either concrete, asphalt or some sort of aggregate. Get the base of your pots off of the surface. An easy fix is to place 2 short lengths of 2" x 4" under the edges of your pots. I have LOTS of potted plants on my concrete patio. They are all elevated either on 2" x 4", scrap lumber or pot feet.

No self watering pots or pots in saucers
Larger pots
Elevate the pots

Good luck
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Re: Can somebody tell me what I am doing wrong?

I agree with Elizabeth. In summer you can also get reflected heat off the pavement. The same thing happens with plants on concrete and balconies. The easiest fix is to double pot in the heat of summer so it acts as insulation. If you can get hold of very large styrofoam containers they are the best pots. They are sometimes used for packing large refrigerated items. They are easy to make holes in and they come already insulated.

I am not fond of organic potting soil, but it does require less watering.
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