redneck647
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Why don't my peppers grow outside?

I have a strange problem with my pepper plants. It seems like whenever I move them out to the garden they stop growing or don't grow much more.
My peppers were a little behind this year when I put them outside early last month so this year they're even smaller but this can't be normal can it?
IMG_20150724_131744.jpg
It just seems like they stop getting bigger after transplanting and then the plants to small to get fruit. My guess is that they're getting stunted but I don't know how to fix it. Everything else I transplant grows bigger.
Thanks for any help you can give me.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Why don't my peppers grow outside?

Decidedly not normal. As in your previous thread about the cabbage and tomato, everything is looking stunted and not doing well and your soil does not look good.

The secret of a good garden is really good soil. If you don't have that, nothing else really matters.
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applestar
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Re: Why don't my peppers grow outside?

Peppers are very shallow rooted until they get established, so their roots can get dried out easily, especially -- as mentioned by rainbowgardener -- if the soil doesn't have a lot of organic matter/compost to help hold the moisture.

You may see dramatic improvement if you mulch heavily. Since you seem to be having some weed issues, it might be easiest to put down layers of paper near/between (but not touching) the plants, and cardboard in the walkways/paths. (Make sure to do this AFTER watering thoroughly)

I'm pulling big weeds from other areas to use as pathway mulch over flattened cardboard boxes and pizza boxes. It's hot and dry today, so they will most likely die and their roots shouldn't pose a problem.
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Although it's generally a good idea to pull/cut the weeds before they start to bloom/set seeds, I don't worry about that too much with main paths that are regularly walked on since most weed seedlings will get trampled.
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ElizabethB
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Re: Why don't my peppers grow outside?

Judging from your photos your soil looks iffy.

It will not be much help this year but next time try amending your soil with a good bit of compost. If you start composing now you will have a good supply for next year's garden.

Sometimes gardeners just have to bite the bullet and say "I will do better next year".

Soil quality is critical.

Consider having a soil test done. Well worth the $10 - $15.

Good luck
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Why don't my peppers grow outside?

Here's the other thread where I replied to this person. https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... =4&t=64629

I really do think it is a soil issue - soil fertility, but also tilth, moisture holding, etc.

If you want a good garden, you need to invest the effort in the soil: Turning it, breaking it up, hoe-ing it, adding lots of compost, peat moss, and/or other organic material, turning and hoe-ing again, then mulching deeply after planting. Good soil is dark and loose and crumbly and slightly moist:

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https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-conte ... y-soil.jpg

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https://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Gua ... il-007.jpg
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Why don't my peppers grow outside?

Your peppers were doing better before you put them in the ground, because they were probably in potting soil then, vs hard clay ground.

Peppers do quite well in containers, say 2 gallon size. While you work on making decent soil, they would probably be better off to go in containers filled with potting soil.

Turning your hard clay into good soil can be a lot of work over several seasons. If you want to skip that, you can just build raised beds on top of the clay and fill them with a good mix. Be sure to poke a lot of drainage holes down in to the clay first with garden fork. A good raised bed mix would be 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 good compost from a variety of sources (you can buy this) and 1/3 perlite.
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redneck647
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Re: Why don't my peppers grow outside?

Thanks everyone.
Yes I'm going to say its the soil as well. Hopefully the compost I’ll have for next year will start pushing it in the right direction.

I'm cheap and would rather not spend too much bring in new dirt. I'd rather try to get what I have to something more useable.

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applestar
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Re: Why don't my peppers grow outside?

I'm with you about that -- there's too much subliminal and overt marketing going on to BUY things to grow your garden. You almost have to fight the urge off. :roll:

You can get a lot of organic matter from just weeds and tree/shrub trimmings if you have the space or are willing to let some areas go and grow, then go in and "HARVEST" what you need.

Right now, you could be collecting vetch, alfalfa, and clover seeds and mustard family crop seeds. You can grow them when it gets a bit cooler. During the summer heat, buckwheat is the typically recommended cover crop/green manure, but whatever weed that is taking over can be pulled or cut and left in the sun to dry up for mulch or compost. Or you can till them in (if that's the way you want to garden).

I highly recommend GROWING cover crop or green manure -- now if you have available space, or sow at end of the summer to grow over the winter. You'll want some kind of legumes (this can be simply any extra dry beans or whole peas you have around the kitchen -- allowing part of your own crop to mature and drying them will gets you lots of fresh seeds with 100% germination) to increase nitrogen, and deep rooted plants that will bring up minerals and nutrients from deep in the soil -- dandelion can do the job really, but alfalfa is particularly recommended for clay soil (N fixing too) and daikon radish is another highly recommended crop.

Radishes and other mustard family crop are super easy to allow to go to seed for future use so you only need to buy the seeds once.

Some kind of cereal crop will produce the most carbon/fiber/organic matter, but as I said, tree/shrub trimmings will be useful, too. I take down a lot of stuff and just scatter the green leaves and cut up twigs. I just pile them in the paths and when they start breaking down, rake them off and scrape up the good compost/soil for the beds.

This time of the year, I'm lamenting how overgrown everything is getting, and I have to rescue a lot of areas that I have let go too far, but at the same time, I will end up with tons of materials for the paths/mulch/compost piles.
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redneck647
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Re: Why don't my peppers grow outside?

Yes. My garden in full of weeds right now. Lol. The groundhog ate my peas and green bean plants. After that I kinda left the section go go wild but now the green beans are growing back.

Growing anything over the winter isn't really an option. I just cover it with plastic and watch as it gets covered in 2' of snow. Lol.
I had used some extra green bean seeds in the past for a cover crop in the past but I think it just helped attack the groundhogs.
And I did grow radishes this year that did well. But I pulled most of them only leaving a few for seed.
I'm pulling weeds and tossing some of the cut grass into a 4' x 4' compost pile. Its doing fairly well and i've already filled it up and had it shrink away once. But now its mostly empty but the compost in the bottom looks like I fight be able to add it to the garden this fall before covering it. I also have a lot of short stuff growing around the garden area that I could cut and toss in the pile.

For now I'm just hoping to get some of the cherry tomatoes again before the pants die and get seeds from the green beans and lettuce. If that all happens i'll call it a success.

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applestar
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Re: Why don't my peppers grow outside?

Yeah you and me both, nothing actually GROWS during winter around here. What you would be doing is STARTING them in fall to be winter killed or to hunker down and survive to resume growth in very early spring with head start when normally too frozen or wet to plant anything.

Otherwise, you end up letting the garden be non-productive over the winter.

This is the best way to beat the vultures when it comes to NOT buying soil, mulch, soil amendments, less fertilizer, etc. etc. you can collect free fallen leaves and whatnot in the fall, too.

One thing is if you are using the garden over the winter, you can't always plant in it in early spring, so best way is to use only part of the beds this way, and prep a separate part of the bed in the fall with compost, etc. for early spring planting. I mulch with organic materials rather than plastic but it's the same idea -- as soon as thaw, that bed will be nice and crumbly and ready to seed or plant.

The area used for and built up with winter cover/green manure crop can be planted later in spring or early summer with seasonally appropriate crop.
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GardeningCook
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Re: Why don't my peppers grow outside?

Sorry for the bad news, but your soil is CRIMINAL. Don't count on anything worthwhile producing out of that. Dry, dusty, claylike, rocky - honestly, not much guessing required re: why you're not getting results.

You can press on & hope, but if I were you & truly wanted to continue on gardening, I'd bite the bullet, forget about this year's plants, & work on getting something done with that soil. Anything. While waiting for your own compost to cook, buy some amendments if possible - peat moss, garden soil, bagged manure, etc., etc. Frankly anything worked into what you have now would be an improvement.

Again - I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I honestly can't think of anything good. :?
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Why don't my peppers grow outside?

I quite sympathize with not wanting to spend a lot of money buying dirt. In general I am in the buy nothing, make / grow it all myself: soil, compost, wood chips, etc.

But when I was first starting out where I am, with terrible clay soil, I did build raised beds and I did have a truckload of good topsoil (2 cubic yards) delivered to fill the beds. It is WAY cheaper to buy it in bulk like that, than in bags. Then I bought just a few bags of good stuff to mix in with it.

In your other thread about everything being stunted, you said: " I've tried adding some shovel fulls from a 20+ year old manure pile into it but I don't think its done much. With the compost pile started this year I'm really hopping to have my own compost for next year. I have very few worms in the garden but do have some ant hills.
For fertilizer I have some store bought 10-10-10 that I mix in at the start but I don't do much else throughout the year. "

A few shovels full is NOT going to make a difference. You need to be able to cover your whole garden plot several inches deep with compost and/or other good organic stuff and then mix it in. And you will have to keep doing that spring and fall for at least a couple years before you get your soil to the point where you are getting really good results.

And throwing a little bit of 10-10-10 on bad soil is not going to solve the problem, either.

Re: "I'm pulling weeds and tossing some of the cut grass into a 4' x 4' compost pile." PLEASE read the two composting basics stickies at the top of the Compost Forum. Just throwing grass and weeds and garden trimmings in a pile, is NOT the same as composting. They are "greens" (soft, moist, nitrogen rich). In order to compost successfully and end up with a product that is good for your soil, they need to be mixed with "browns" (hard, dry, carbon rich). Browns include fall leaves, straw, corn stalks (preferably chipped up), twigs, fine wood chips or sawdust, shredded paper etc. The stickies give a lot more info.

If you are not going to buy compost, then you are going to have to work very hard at composting everything you can get your hands on. All your kitchen scraps, left overs, waste etc. Everything paper that comes to your house (torn up junk mail, toilet paper tubes, etc). And go looking for more. Places that sell coffee will usually give you their used coffee grounds free. (They look brown, but they are a "green" nitrogen rich.) I collect the big yard waste bags of fall leaves that other people put at the curb for pick up and usually end up with at least a dozen of them to feed in to the compost pile through the season. You can buy a bale of straw at a feed store (cheap!) to gradually add to the pile. The volume of "brown" stuff should be at least equal to the volume of "green" stuff.

You want to have a LOT of compost, so you will have to work at it. You need to have one 4x4x4 compost pile filled now and settling through the fall and winter while you fill up the next one. Anyone that is seriously composting has at least two compost bins, often three.

Best Wishes! With a lot of work on the soil foundation of your garden, you can end up with a garden that is a delight, not a disappointment, way more productive and with less problems with diseases and pests. :D :D And once you have invested all this work into building good soil, gardening will get a lot easier. You won't have to keep working so hard.

Keep updating us with how it is going for you!
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redneck647
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Re: Why don't my peppers grow outside?

I'll see what I can do for the winter then. For now I'm still working on what I’ll do to the soil in the fall and what I'll plant next year. Then I can come up with that.

The garden itself is 3 6' x 6' plots. I want to eventually make it bigger but for now I'm just trying to fix what I have now.
So far I filled the compost bin once and had it settle back down. I have the pallets to redo my bin into 2 sections with an open side on each and I'm thinking of doing that. But it might make it easier for the groundhogs and things to get in it. For now the stuff on the bottom is broken down a good bit but I don't think its done yet. Either way I was kinda thinking of shoveling it out in the fall and adding it to the garden. Even if its not really done I'm guessing it might finish in the garden and shouldn't hurt anything for next year?
I think I’d have enough to add at lest an inch to one of the beds by fall if nothing else.
I have 4 acres surrounded by woods with a lot of it left to grow so I have a lot of plants I can cut and toss in. I also have leaves and sawdust for browns. I know the finer stuff can cause problems but i've been mixing the pile every week and so far its done well.

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Re: Why don't my peppers grow outside?

If you have a greenwaste composting facility in your area you might consider buying a truckload of compost and get some manure as well. A cubic yard sells here for $37, if I provide the truck. You will probably get it a lot cheaper since everything is usually a lot more expensive here.

As you put your beds to sleep for the winter, work in by volume about 4-6 inches of compost, a quarter inch of manure, and if your soil does not drain well, you may need to add drainage material like coarse sand 4-6 inches. In the end you want your bed to be 1/3 native soil, 1/3 compost, 1/3 drainage (sand, perlite or vermiculite). Manure is to add nitrogen so you don't need a lot. Plant the beds with a winter cover crop like winter wheat or rye. If you want to increase the nitrogen in the soil, you can use inoculated hairy vetch. Before you plant next year get a soil test. Till in the crop residues, so they benefit the soil in place. They will add biomass and the legumes will give up their stored nitrogen. Add any recommended amendments after you get the soil test. You may have to adjust the pH. The soil will probably be ready for planting then. You may need to jump start the process since you probably will not be able to make enough compost to amend the garden. After you have improved the soil, you should be able to make enough compost to maintain it.
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