marilynshipley
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Rotting serrano peppers on plant, brown tomato leaf tips

Hello all:

I'm a newbie and I'm apparently making a lot of mistakes (although I've done so much research I promise) so if anyone feels like slogging through this description of my problems, I'd appreciate it. The amount of money I've invested in this is kind of a lot to our family, and I really don't want my vegetables to die. I would appreciate advice.

So, from the beginning:

-I built a 4' by 6' raised bed and am growing tomatoes, serranos, jalapenos, basil, parsely, and oregano. I filled the bed with generic "topsoil," mushroom compost, some vermiculite, pearlite, and some bags of good-quality garden ready soil mixed in. It was really the best I could afford and access with a small car. I used a little bit of fertilizer, but I was scared to add too much because I know it can burn the plants. Maybe I didn't add enough.

- I've been watering every 3-5 days and then watering about 15 gallons with a gallon jug (I calculated that this would equal "an inch" of rain in my 4' by 6' bed. Right?).

-It's humid where I live, but the temperatures are in the 80s, 90s, and sometimes 100s this month, and it also rarely rains in the summer.

-So, my tomato plants are growing quickly and seem happy, except (as you can see in the picture), the tips of the leaves are turning brown. I really want them to be okay. No fruit yet either. What should I do differently?

-My serrano peppers rotted on the plant (pictured also), and really none of my peppers seem all that happy.The guy at the garden center told me I was over-watering them based on the fact that they're rotting, but I really have been waiting quite a bit of time between waterings. I also let the soil dry out a bit (not bone-dry or anything, but dry) between watering.

-My parsley is growing right next to the rotting peppers, and while some of it is green and healthy, within the same plant some of it is turning bright yellow (also pictured). The guy at the garden center told me I was under-watering it, but it's growing right next to the peppers, which he told me I was over-watering. If I am under-watering, that's an easy fix, but I'm scared it has a disease or something.

- There are leaf-miners and also some other kind of bug (?) eating my basil (no picture). Today I bought some Captain Jack's deadbug powder, some Dynamite organic fertilizer (I was told my problems might be a nutrient/calcium problem), and I buried some cans of beer with the top cut off of them in the soil.

-I bought some straw and plan to mulch with that.

I know that's a lot to read, but I'm so anxious that I wasted my family's money on this whole gardening thing. I would love to be able to salvage what I can. All of my plants are still pretty small, as I got a late start this year.

Thanks so much! I want so badly to be good at this. I wish I had my own expert advice to give others on these forums and contribute, but I don't. Maybe in a few years...

Marilyn

Marilyn
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Rotting serrano peppers on plant, brown tomato leaf tips

To start with, no matter what happens, you didn't waste money, you invested it in learning to garden and grow healthy food for the family. There's a lot to learn and it doesn't all happen over night. So it may be that this year, especially with a late start, is mainly about learning. Next year there will be less to buy and you can start earlier and you will know more and so it should pay off more.

I'm a little concerned, it sounds like you are talking about one 4x6 foot bed? That is a lot of plants for a small space like that. You said tomato plants, plural. How many tomato plants did you put in your bed? Did you stake or cage them? Do you know what variety (ies) they are? Some pictures of the plants, not just the leaves, would help a lot. You said you got a late start (how late) and your plants aren't very big (how big). I take it you bought your plants from the garden center. How long have they been in your ground? I don't know if your tomatoes aren't fruiting yet because of some problem or just because they aren't big enough yet or are still getting established in your bed, getting through transplant shock and putting down roots in your soil. Are they blooming?

The late start is especially hard on the tomatoes, which do not do well once temperatures hit about 90 and especially above that. They have difficulty setting fruit in high temperatures. I can't tell about the leaf tip problem without seeing the plant. It could be the beginning of something serious that is just getting started or it could be nothing. Are all the leaves like that or just a few? Only the ones at the bottom?

Three tomato plants would be a lot for a bed that small, two would be better, unless they are dwarf varieties, especially with all that other stuff, depending on how many plants of all the other stuff.

The pepper looks like blossom end rot, a condition that affects tomatoes and peppers. It is not a disease or pest, it is a response to environmental conditions. It is caused by difficulty uptaking calcium, but this is not usually a result of lack of calcium in the soil, just the plant's difficulty in taking it up and using it. Often this is related to uneven watering. It may be that you are letting your soil dry out too much in between and then giving a lot of water. You said 3 -5 days. Five days would be a long time between watering, especially in such hot weather, and especially if your plants are relatively new. What you want, ideally, is to keep the lower level of soil, a few inches down, pretty evenly moist, not going through wet and dry cycles. The mulch you mentioned will help with that, by conserving soil moisture. Along with trying to keep it more evenly moist, you could add some bone meal to the soil or a fertilizer (like tomato tone, good for tomatoes and peppers) that is NOT highest in nitrogen (the N in N-P-K).

Don't know what happened to your parsley. Does the whole plant look like that or just some leaves?

Re the soil fertility issue. Again seeing some pictures of the whole bed and of whole plants would help to see if they are showing signs of nutrient deficiency. Whether your soil is fertile enough depends on the proportion of ingredients you put in. Mushroom compost is a good ingredient, but it depends on whether it was little bit of mushroom compost and a lot of "generic topsoil" or the other way around, etc.

The cans of beer are a trap for slugs/ snails. Whether they do any good depends on whether your problem actually is slugs vs insects or something else.

So keep giving us more information and more pictures and we will keep working with you to try and help you get your garden off to a good start. I can tell from what you said that you did do your homework and research this first and you have done a lot of things right. So just be patient with the process of figuring all this out. Those of us who are dispensing answers around here mostly measure our gardening experience in decades.
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imafan26
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Re: Rotting serrano peppers on plant, brown tomato leaf tips

My parsley looks like that when it gets phythoptora. The root rots. But it is not just a few leaves, the whole plant wilts in a very short period of time like a week and when the parsley is pulled up the roots are rotten.

The only other time my parsley will do that will be when it is allowed to wilt from drying out too much. It perks up again but outer leaves will yellow.

You used a lot of soil, but did you add any compost? Compost will help to hold on to moisture and mulch will too. If you used a lot of soil and not much organics the soil will be heavy and compost will lighten it up too.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Rotting serrano peppers on plant, brown tomato leaf tips

She said she added mushroom compost, but didn't give any clue how much/ proportions.

Marilyn - another good ingredient for your soil would be peat moss or coconut coir, to lighten up the soil, help keep it loose and fluffy and even out moisture. "Mel's mix" is a mixture designed for square foot gardening - i.e gardening small areas intensively as you are. It is 1/3 compost (preferably from several different sources, like some mushroom compost, some regular vegetables & browns compost, etc) 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, with no actual soil. If you have a source for it, you could substitute leaf mould for some of the peat/ coir.

The phythoptora imafan was talking about is the organism that causes root rot, but it usually only happens in conditions of too much water/ poor drainage.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Rotting serrano peppers on plant, brown tomato leaf tips

I was thinking about the water issue some more (I hope you will come back, Marilyn!)

" I've been watering every 3-5 days and then watering about 15 gallons with a gallon jug (I calculated that this would equal "an inch" of rain in my 4' by 6' bed. Right?"

You are right that 1" x 6' x 4' = about 2 cubic feet = about 15 gallons and that your plants need about 1" of "rain" a week. But I think that letting it get pretty dried out and then dumping the whole week's worth of "rain" on at once, may be contributing to some of your problems. I was picturing what it would look like pouring 15 gallons of water on a small bed and it seemed like a lot. It depends too on how well draining your soil mix is.

You need to get to know your soil. Dig down a few inches before you water and see how dry it is. Is it thoroughly dry 3 -4" down? Then you weren't watering often enough. Then water as usual. Wait a few minutes and then dig down a few inches. Is is muddy or soggy? That's too much or the water isn't draining well enough. Is it not moist 4" down? That's not enough water.

Dig a hole a foot deep and fill it with water. It should be completely drained in less than half an hour.
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

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