nancygene
Full Member
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:23 pm

Need help to fix poor soil in my garden, please

A few years ago we purchased some tomato plants from a local grower. The plants started out fine, but about mid way in their growing season, the leaves wilted, turned black and started to fall off. The tomatoes also rotted and fell off before they were mature. Ever since then, nothing seems to want to grow well in that area of the garden, particularly on the one end of the row. Last year, I grew zucchini and cucumbers there and while they started out well, the last two or three plants in the row developed black stalks and the plants died off. My question is, how can I determine what is wrong with my soil? Where would I take a sample and how do I get results that would tell me if the soil is diseased? Any help is much appreciated.

Dillbert
Greener Thumb
Posts: 955
Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2010 7:29 pm
Location: Central PA

quite a bit more background info is needed to provide a "best guess" but right up front, it's not a 'diseased soil'

soil can be lacking in nutrients, organic matter for tilth, etc and etc. - but stuff turning black and falling off does not immediately evoke poor soil issues.

first: what kind of chemicals were used in / around / next door to this plot of ground?

I ask this because frankly from your description it sounds like the plants were exposed to some kind of weed / vegetation killer which, sigh, worked......

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11118
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

A few questions about your garden?
How many hours of sun does it get?
Are there any large trees nearby?
What kind of preparation did you do before planting the garden?
Does the soil drain well? Is it a raised bed? Is that a low spot in the garden bed?
Before your plants got black, did it rain or did you notice any bugs on them?
How big were the plants when they ran in to trouble?
What other plants do you have around and are they healthy?
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

nancygene
Full Member
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:23 pm

diseased garden

Wow, you are already making me feel better. Here are some answers to the questions your posts are asking.

This part of the garden gets full sun for most of the day.
We have a blossoming cherry tree that is at the other end of my garden, but I did notice that some green mold has formed on the tree.
I do not remember how much prep was done before using this garden, as we have had it for 3 or 4 years.
There is good drainage for this garden.
The plants grew large and stalks looked good before they died. Just before the zucchini plants died, the stalks started turning black close to the ground and worked its way up about a quarter of the way. I pulled the plants that were bad. I don't recall any bugs on them.
I used a trellis to support the plants and under the trellis I planted lettuce, which seemed to do quite well. The next three rows were Blue Lake Green Beans which did exceptionally well, and so did the rest of the garden.
Miracle Grow has been used.
I think I will put some well composted manure on it to see if that may help this year. What do you think?

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11118
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Green mold on the cherry tree might be algae or lichen. That grows commonly here, it does not hurt the tree, but does say that the area gets a lot of water usually in the form of rain.

Since your other plants were big and healthy and you were fertilizing regularly, I doubt it is a fertilizer problem. You may actually not need as much fertilizer if you do a soil test.

You can usually get information about soil test from your local master gardener as well as bring a sample of the plant to them to identify the problem. The nearest extension office should be listed in the phone book or you can google it. The land grant college nearest you will have an extension office.

How often do you water?

Below are links to Cornell's diagnostic page for tomatoes and concurbits.
They list the most common causes of stem and crown rot.

http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell. ... ltKey.html
http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell. ... iltKey.htm
Last edited by imafan26 on Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

btrowe1
Senior Member
Posts: 202
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:57 pm
Location: South Glens Falls Ny,Zone 4B

Do you have a septic system?? Is this area near or over the leech field?? You say this is just one section, Is this section newly turned??

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

imafan26 wrote: The nearest extension office should be listed in the phone book or you can google it. The land grant college nearest you will have an extension office.
A couple of months ago, there were extensive and detailed discussions here on the forum re. extension offices. These seem to exist in a few states but not in the majority of states. In my own case, my county shares its four- or five-member Extension Service staff among multiple counties, and the master gardener "service" is never available in my part of the county.

"Land grant" colleges in many states have also lost that distinction and left behind many of the ag services they formerly provided. :(

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

nancygene
Full Member
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:23 pm

About two years ago, we had this mold on some of our shrubs, and some of our other trees. It seemed like we had it on lots of stuff. Even my snowball bush got some. We also had a tree about 80 - 90 feet away that died. The leaves all shriveled up and the whole tree just disintegrated. I used a fruit spray that I purchased at our local nursery and sprayed everything. It seemed to help, but the shrubs died and had to be removed. The flowering cherry tree and the snowball bush were ok after I sprayed and removed any dead branches. I just wonder if this was not an end result of whatever was going on in the garden, too, though. The mold was a light green, somewhat scaly stuff. It seemed to spread quickly, too. My husband blew it off saying it was on the north side of the trees, but, I had never seen it there before, nor had I seen that much of it.

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11118
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Its too bad about the land grant colleges disappearing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_la ... iversities

This is a list of master gardener programs available throughout the US
http://www.ahs.org/master_gardeners/

Did the scaly patches on the trees resemble this??

http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0857/ANR-0857.pdf
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

User avatar
kimbledawn
Senior Member
Posts: 225
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 2:18 pm
Location: Memphis

I'm not an expert but I think that maybe your woes are unrelated or at least different for each set of plants. Your tomato plants could have gotten a fungus because of the moisture. I believe if your zucchini all of a sudden started dying it might have been because of vine borers. If they had gotten a fungus, It would have affected the leaves first, not the stem.

I vote to try not to crowd the plants in that section of your garden so that the air can flow. You can also treat the plants with a milk solution and see if it helps. If its the vine borers (milk wont help) I strongly dislike those little things. They wiped out all of my squash and zucchini plants.
"Organic gardeners always know the best DIRT!"

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27484
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I think Kimbledawn (Hi, Kimbledawn! great to see you here again! :D ) has raised a good point.

It may be a good idea to start individual threads for each of the plants in appropriate forums -- we can go over the issues they have been facing one by one. It's possible that all of them are related in some way, but these plants all have different as well as common needs, pests, and diseases.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Pictures help too! :)

I agree that it sounds like diseases, but diseases can be related to the condition of the soil. If the soil is staying soggy/ wet, that can contribute to fungal disease. If your soil and/or water supply is acidic, that can create conditions favorable to fungal diseases.

Can you tell anything different about the area of the garden where the problems are? Is it shadier, wetter, different soil, etc?
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
kimbledawn
Senior Member
Posts: 225
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 2:18 pm
Location: Memphis

Thanks applestar, I took a season off and now I am back. I am so excited about this season!! My DH wreaked havoc in my garden last season!
"Organic gardeners always know the best DIRT!"

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.
Contact: Website

What is your geographical location?

My grandparents use to say, certain types of tree roots were bad for garden soil. Black Walnut is the only tree I remember being bad for garden plants. Might be a myth too.

Maybe your soil is alkaline?

Clay soil is pretty bad too.

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”