samson
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My garden story: bruss sprouts, broccoli, carrots, etc.

Hello, I made my first vegetable garden this year and have learned alot, but I need input from those more experienced gardeners, with the hope of more success next year.
Because there are a number of walnut trees on the property, I decided on raised beds, though they had to be near a mulberry tree. I built two 4'x8' bed, and one 4.5'x4.5' bed. I later added another 4' x 4' bed. I used pressure treated lumber for this large beds, 11"high, and some old pine 4x4's I had around for the 1st small bed, and then concrete blocks for the small additional bed. I researched the PT lumber and it seemed it would be safe. I ordered fresh topsoil and mixed in mushroom compost and cow manure. I later mulched with peat moss.
I started from seed, and originally intended to do organic, but realized I was not skilled enough so ended up using some pyrethrins for bugs and miracle grow. I planted Peppers: jalapeno, red bell, banana, cubanelle; f-1 broccoli; catskill brussel sprouts; stupice tomatos; bunching onions; valencia onions; climbing gr. beans; carrots; and sucrine lettuce. I have had some produce from the tomatos, peppers, lettuce and green beans, but everything else has mostly failed. They all looked very healthy until about two weeks ago, when the brussel sprouts began to keel over and die. I have two plants left, but they have no buds at all and seem small to me. The carrots never got more than 1-1.5 inces long, the broccoli has not started to produce heads after 3.5 months, the bunching onions never got big or even stood upright, the tomatos were all pretty small, and the peppers, while yielding fruit, are not prolific. The green beans did ok, but were mainly very leafy, with huge leaves, but produced little fruit. The broccoli also, very leafy, but no fruit. I can provide more detailed info once the dialogue begins. If you can begin to help answering my question: what am I doing wrong? I'll be grateful.

Started seeds plant 4-15, planted around 5-30, direct seeded plants around 5-15 (gr beans, lettuce, carrots, onions)

Samson

csvd87
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Now I'm not experienced... as all i have done is container grow some peppers this year.. but from what i have read is that brussels sprouts are very top heavy and will keel over from their own weight, that might be what you are experiencing. with your stuff being very leafy but low production, sounds like too much nitrogen, if you are using miracle grow all purpose fertilizer this may be the case as it is quite strong in the nitrogen department, i'd switch to a tomato fertilizer with less nitrogen and more PK, you should also switch to something like a liquid fish fertilizer and maybe mix in some bone meal with the soil. just some stuff i have been picking up on, I almost immeadiately switched from miracle grow's all purpose as it attracted too many aphids and also almost killed my sweet cayenne plant as all the leaves started to curl up which apparently was caused by excess nitrogen.

Now hopefully some more experienced gardeners can weigh in with their opinions

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jal_ut
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Here is what I would try. Put some leaves on it this fall. Maybe 3 inches deep. In the spring no Miracle grow. I think your soil will be fertile enough for the season. Planting crops at the right time is a big step in the right direction. Many of the spring crops have some frost resistance and can be planted in April. Lettuce, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, spinach,and onions are good examples of cool weather crops. I direct seed all of these where they will grow.

Corn, beets and squash can be planted about a week before the date of your average last frost. Beans can be planted on the day of average last frost. I like to wait a week past that to plant melons and cucumbers.

I wouldn't give up on that broccoli yet. It may produce some heads yet if it still looks good.

Instead of planting Brussels Sprouts plant some kohlrabi in April.

If you feel like planting something this fall, put in a few garlic cloves.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

garden5
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You could start your broccoli, cabbage, and onion seedlings about mid-Feb. to be planted out in Apr. Since you are new at this, I'd recommend that you plant some store-bought onion sets at the same time, just in case your home-grown ones don't do all that great.

How often did you fertilize. I agree with the previous posters that you may have had a nitrogen overload in your garden.
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samson
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It does now seem I got a nitrogen overload. Aside from the miracle grow, I had previously used blood meal too. Also, my jalapenos had curled leaves which another member mentioned as a sign of too much notrogen. I think as a new gardener I got over zealous and thought the more fertilized the soil, the better the production, though I did follow directions. I was wrong, I see that now. But that's what learning is all about: making mistakes and correcting them. If the soil itself is fertile, is there any need for liquid fertilizers? It seems to not be the case. If I turn under some detritus, plus what I have already added to the soil (i.e. mushroom compost, manure), will it be good in the spring? One more question: does too much nitrogen cause lots of leaf but no fruit? And my brussel sprouts never got big enough to keel over from their own weight. Every day I go out another one is wilting, starting at the lowest leaves. Then, water or not, it eventually just falls over and dies. I have one left out of 12, and it's going fast. I believe they must be very sensitive to soil conditions. Surprisingly, I got a decent number of jalapenos and banana peppers. But everything else seems to get lots of leaves but produce little fruit. I've learned my lesson, or at least one lesson out of many! Thanks!

TWC015
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I till compost into the soil and I don't use any other fertilizers.

It sounds like your Brussels sprouts may have fusarium wilt. I've never had this on mine. In addition, Brussels sprouts and the other brassicas like to have plenty of moisture in the soil. I notice that mine don't wilt much when they dry some but they stop growing until I give them more water.

samson
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@TWC015
Could be, I had some yellowing of lower leaves, but it only the brussel sprout plants died, though I had one broccoli plant die, so it may be slowly attacking all. The amazing thing is that, I'd see one wilting and thought I could bring it back, but nothing helped. Then, one by one they all wilted and died. Are there any tell tale signs I could look for? Is this a fungus?

cynthia_h
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samson wrote:Hello, I made my first vegetable garden this year and have learned alot, but I need input from those more experienced gardeners, with the hope of more success next year.
No matter how experienced you become as a gardener, you will *always* learn a lot each year. Thomas Jefferson may have said it best: "Although I am an old man, I am a young gardener."
samson wrote:Because there are a number of walnut trees on the property, I decided on raised beds, though they had to be near a mulberry tree. I built two 4'x8' bed, and one 4.5'x4.5' bed. I later added another 4' x 4' bed. I used pressure treated lumber for this large beds, 11"high, and some old pine 4x4's I had around for the 1st small bed, and then concrete blocks for the small additional bed. I researched the PT lumber and it seemed it would be safe. I ordered fresh topsoil and mixed in mushroom compost and cow manure. I later mulched with peat moss.
Raised beds are often recommended by forum members for those who must deal with walnut trees; good decision! :) I have a concrete/cinder block raised bed myself; the blocks are only two courses tall and are simply laid on top of one another. One of these days maybe I'll reinforce them, but for now...

I'm going to assume that the "cow manure" was composted steer manure? This is usually the result of a feed-lot operation, where many, many head of cattle are crammed together and slaughtered. Not the most sanitary conditions, which is why antibiotics are used so liberally in the feed lots. I'm not convinced that all brands of composted steer manure are equally valuable to the plants. :? Once you start using your own compost, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how consistent--and good--your results are. :)

Using mulch was a good idea, but sometimes gardeners experience difficulty in getting water to penetrate peat moss. It's hydro-phobic (not the rabies type!); it sheds rather than attracts water. Not necessarily what a gardener who's trying to grow veggies is interested in. Maybe this contributed to some of your difficulties later. I can't say for sure; I don't know how much peat you used, how thick it was, or anything. But I would suggest using a different mulch next time. (There are also environmental questions surrounding the use of peat moss, but in the case of your veggies, I'd look to peat's water-repelling quality....)
samson wrote:I started from seed, and originally intended to do organic, but realized I was not skilled enough so ended up using some pyrethrins for bugs and miracle grow.
I'm sorry someone gave you the idea that going organic was more complicated than using other commercial products. :( My experience (and I have been absolutely required to use organic methods the whole time I've gardened, due to migraines) is that organic is 1) less expensive and 2) ready to hand, usually in the kitchen. I have to know what's in the products, and Miracle Grow and other large companies don't want to tell their buyers what's in their stuff. Too high a risk for me personally w/migraines and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Maybe next time (now that you've found The Helpful Gardener :wink:) you'll feel more confident about trying a less-industrial approach, or may work towards it over a few seasons. :)
samson wrote:I planted Peppers: jalapeno, red bell, banana, cubanelle; f-1 broccoli; catskill brussel sprouts; stupice tomatos; bunching onions; valencia onions; climbing gr. beans; carrots; and sucrine lettuce.
This is a mix of cool-season and warm-season vegetables. Peppers, tomatoes, green beans are warm-season veggies. With onions, it depends on what kind they are and what you want to use them for. I've never grown heading onions, just scallions (green onions), and they prefer cool weather.

But many of the plants you tried to grow were out of season in warm temps: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and lettuce. These grow in cooler temperatures and usually bolt (go to flower/seed) in warm temps, if they even survive. You witnessed--and are still witnessing--their struggle.
samson wrote:I have had some produce from the tomatos, peppers, lettuce and green beans, but everything else has mostly failed. They all looked very healthy until about two weeks ago, when the brussel sprouts began to keel over and die. I have two plants left, but they have no buds at all and seem small to me. The carrots never got more than 1-1.5 inces long, the broccoli has not started to produce heads after 3.5 months, the bunching onions never got big or even stood upright, the tomatos were all pretty small, and the peppers, while yielding fruit, are not prolific. The green beans did ok, but were mainly very leafy, with huge leaves, but produced little fruit. The broccoli also, very leafy, but no fruit.
So the warm-season veggies (tomatoes, peppers, and green beans) produced, and the cool-season veggies didn't. That's understandable. I *am* surprised that the lettuce cooperated; maybe this variety is more tolerant of warm temps than traditional varieties are. I'm not familiar with it, not having grown it.

Another factor might be root depth. The raised beds were 11" high, which can be fine for many veggies, but when growing them over a walnut tree's roots, more depth may be needed. The walnut tree exudes juglone, a substance which will kill nearby plants, so the roots of those plants need to be protected by distance from the effect of the juglone. I don't know what specific distance is needed, and for all I know it may depend on soil type or even go plant by plant, too, but carrots usually prefer 18" or so of depth just for themselves, and tomatoes need lots of root space.
samson wrote:I can provide more detailed info once the dialogue begins. If you can begin to help answering my question: what am I doing wrong? I'll be grateful.

Started seeds plant 4-15, planted around 5-30, direct seeded plants around 5-15 (gr beans, lettuce, carrots, onions)

Samson
Other than the warm season/cool season thing and having to compete with a walnut tree (which is going to be tricky for anyone), I think you did pretty well in your first year! :D

Consider: you constructed raised beds which will be useful for several years. You harvested peppers, tomatoes, green beans, and lettuce. You've learned a lot about the growing conditions in your yard/garden.

Keep reading here about cool-season and warm-season veggies (right now might be a good time to put in those carrots, Brussels sprouts, and so on, depending on how long you have till first frost and how severe the early frosts are in your region), start a compost pile so that your raised beds will have as many nutrients from as many sources as possible, and keep at it.

Pretty soon, others will be asking *you* questions and you'll be able to give them some answers for your local area!

Don't forget to check online sources like your county ag extension service, U. Penn / Penn State info on gardening/horticulture, and your local public library catalogue. Most catalogues are available online these days, so check out books/watch DVDs about gardening conditions in your region.

"Well begun is half done," the saying goes, and although your beginning wasn't perfect (don't even *ask* about mine :roll:), it was well done.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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rainbowgardener
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" One more question: does too much nitrogen cause lots of leaf but no fruit?"

YES, exactly!

You've gotten tons of good advice!

I never fertilize (per se). I add compost in the planting hole/row, top dress with compost mid season (i.e. add more compost on top of the soil and maybe trowel it in just a little) Other than that I just keep the soil mulched all the time (controls weeds, holds moisture and eventually breaks down to feed the soil). I mulch heavily with fall leaves and then turn them under in the spring. Start a compost pile! :)

Nothing else and I have a happy healthy garden. Counting all the ones I picked green at the end of the season and brought in, which have been ripening up nicely, I figure I got probably at least real close to 300 tomatoes from my five plants, over the season from June when they started ripening up to when I brought them all in.

Definitely pay attention to what's been said about timing and cool weather crops. Carrots, broccoli, brussels sprouts, lettuce, spinach and some others are all cool weather crops that should be planted "as soon as the ground can be worked" which for me is around mid-March. The brussels sprouts and broccoli, being slower growing benefit from being started indoors before that and transplanted out.
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Lifestyle Lift Journey
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Trial and error, but never give up

Hi samson,

I think you did very well in the first year.
I'm a newbie too. You sound like you know much more than I do.

My granma who was a great gardener used to say,
"You might repeat trial and error, but you never give up."

I wasn't into gardening when I was younger so I missed opportunity to learn lots of skill from her, but I'm still keep trying.

I'm sure you'll do great next year!
Good luck.

samson
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Wow, this forum is incredible!! You have all been so helpful and highly encouraging!

@cynthia_h thanks very much for the detailed information, and thanks to everyone else as well for your willingness to share your knowledge and experience. While I did alot of research and planning before I began my gardening, I sure wish I would've found this site and had a few conversations. But, this is how we learn. And I have learned alot.

BTW, I picked a site farthest away from the walnut trees. The closest one is probably 60 feet, and none have branches / leaves overhanging my beds. That said, these trees lose there leaves very early, and I found myself constantly picking them out as they blew in with the wind. Eventually I gave up because there were so many mulberry tree leaves and I couldn't tell them apart any more. Also, I know the roots of hardwoods like these can extend great distances underground. The strange thing is, there is a patch of asparagus that has been growing here for at least 5 years, and it is right under / next to a walnut tree, with other walnuts close by. I thought asparagus didn't like walnut trees. But we harvested and ate the asparagus in the spring.

Can you tell me what kind of soil carrots prefer? We may not get first frost here until mid November, but could be as early as October. I may try to plant some more carrots as well as garlic, but are there any others I can still plant to harvest in fall?

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rainbowgardener
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Carrots like very loose, sandy soil that is loose for 6" down or so. If you don't have that (I don't) look for shorter carrot varieties: Short and Sweet, Thumbelina, Easy Grow and others. Other cold weather crops you could still be planting include cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach.
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Mulberry tree roots are said to be able to block or neutralize the effects of black walnut tree roots. so if you can situate the garden on the OTHER side of the mulberry tree from the walnut tree, your garden may fair better.

Somewhere, there is a thread in which a link to a list of juglone tolerant vegs was posted.

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rainbowgardener wrote:Carrots like very loose, sandy soil that is loose for 6" down or so. If you don't have that (I don't) look for shorter carrot varieties: Short and Sweet, Thumbelina, Easy Grow and others. Other cold weather crops you could still be planting include cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach.
And once the fall (Oct.) comes, you can put in some garlic. There some threads going on now about planting it and there will probably be more coming up.....or you could just go ahead and find some yourself with the "search forum" feature or start your own. Good luck :).
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jal_ut
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I have gardened for many years. Still learning. It is something I really enjoy doing. Be advised though that gardening is a gamble. Lots of things can affect the outcome. Believe me, I have had my share of failures and disappointments, however every year I get a harvest of something and some years the harvest is amazing. Lots of combined experience and knowlege on this forum. Enjoy!
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

Alfred
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Have you not started to make a compost heap which i find very effective
particularly if you have plenty of worms.
As for growing Brussel Sprouts i find they need a cold climate,we cannot grow them in the the upper North Island the climate is to warm,but i used to grow them when i lived in the UK and pick when the frost was still in them and they were very nice.
I see that you are also growing Bananas,i would be interested to know how that is going as i have planted a cutting last March which seems to be growing quite well.
Grow food that you can harvest every single day of the year, no matter where you live.

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