Golgi
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Bad fertilizer, is my garden ruined?

Hello all. I've been using the same vegetable garden for 7 years now, and this year I strongly felt that we needed to build up the soil, as last year my plants just didn't grow as well as they had in years past. We tilled in a truckload of organic compost bought from a local garden center. The gentleman there also suggested tilling in some fertilizer, and my husband ended up getting 12-12-12 and putting that in.
Several weeks have gone by now, and I'm noticing that my leaf lettuce seeds are not sprouting.. at all. I never have a problem growing lettuce. :(
Did a little research today and discovered that this fertilizer is not good for flowering plants! I grow tomatoes, peppers, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, etc every year! Am I doomed?
I know now that I should have researched this in depth before just dumping whatever on my garden. Is there anything I can do to help my mistake?
Thanks in advance for your help. We rely on my garden all year long! Hope it's not ruined. :(

imafan26
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Re: Bad fertilizer, is my garden ruined?

The fertilizer probably wasn't bad, but probably put in more than you needed. Time will leach it out. If your seeds are not sprouting, it may be because there is too much nitrogen to allow the seeds to sprout. Start the seeds in pots and transplant out when they are two inches tall. If you brought in a "truckload" of compost, I hope you only put on a 2-4 inch layer over the bed and work it into 6-8 inches of soil. Too much compost will hold too much water and dampening off will prevent seeds from sprouting. If your pH is high, what does sprout will likely turn yellow and not do well.

Some people say they can plant in compost, but it doesn't work out well with the compost that is locally available to me, it is too alkaline for most plants at pH 7.8.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Bad fertilizer, is my garden ruined?

I agree that the problem may be the compost more than the fertilizer. In general I think compost is good stuff and synthetic ferts aren't. But everything in moderation!

You didn't give any hints re how big an area you spread your truckload of compost over. But compost is meant to be a soil amendment, not a planting mix. By themselves, most composts are heavy/dense/ moisture holding. As imafan pointed out that is not a good thing for seeds and little seedlings.

Imafan's suggestion was good - for now start your seeds in little containers in potting mix. In the meantime, if you can mix the compost in with the soil better, that would probably help.
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jal_ut
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Re: Bad fertilizer, is my garden ruined?

I would not panic. So the lettuce did not come up? Not a big deal. Could be numerous reasons.
Yes, do mix the compost in well as rainbowgardener suggests.
Try planting some other early seeds such as spinach, radish, turnip, kohlrabi, kale, cabbage, and see what happens?
How large is your area?
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

Golgi
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Re: Bad fertilizer, is my garden ruined?

Thanks for the responses everyone!
My garden area is about 36'x12'. The pickup truck load of organic compost was applied at about 2-3 inches deep over the entire area, then tilled deep with our rototiller. Also tilled in was the fertilizer, and my husband applied what was suggested on the bag.
Maybe it sounds silly to panic over lettuce, but my many different varieties of lettuce growing are one of the things I most look forward to about Spring! I also planted kale and radishes... some did come up, but not like they usually do. Very sporadic sprouts in the rows.

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Lindsaylew82
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Re: Bad fertilizer, is my garden ruined?

That doesn't sound like an unreasonable addition... From either the fertilizer or the compost.

How have your temps been? Maybe you planted them too deep in the freshly tilled softness?

Sound more like an environmental issue.

I think your garden is gonna be just fine.
Lindsay
Upstate, SC
USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Bad fertilizer, is my garden ruined?

What kind of compost was it? If it was commercial compost did they add any lime or chicken manure to it?
Try planting a tomato and some beets. In alkaline soils the tomato won't grow very much and beets in acidic soils produce tops but small bulbs.

A soil test might be a good idea to see where you stand.

I add compost to my soil but it has a pH of 7.8 so on the alkaline plots I have also added sufur and I use sulfate of ammonia as my nitrogen source to counter it.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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KitchenGardener
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Re: Bad fertilizer, is my garden ruined?

This is a long shot, but how old are your seeds?

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jal_ut
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Re: Bad fertilizer, is my garden ruined?

Golgi, it will help us to help you if we knew where you gardened and what your planting zone is.
(you can edit your profile and add that info)

For sure gardening here at 5000 ft elevation in Northern Utah is a far cry from gardening in Hawaii.

Yes, the seeds, weather patterns, rains, and soil conditions all come in to play. I would not expect that
fertilizer to be a problem. Do you have water? Give the area a good drink and let it dry a bit then plant
lettuce again. Maybe new seed?
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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