Last spring I went to my local mom'n pop garden center. I asked them what type of soil they would suggest to attempt some container gardening with. After asking, she pointed me to this organic bagged soil. Normally I don't do the organic thing... Regardless it was 15 dollars a bag. The soil was very loose, providing excellent drainage and overall looks and feels like any other high quality commercial bagged soil.
So I purchase several bags of this soil and took it home to start loading pots, bins and an above ground garden area. Turns out i bought just enough to fill everything up and had about 2 shovel full left over. I dropped in some Watermelon, Canteloupe, Honeydew, catnip seeds. I then purchased a couple Strawberry plants. This is when everything went all wrong. Normally I could just drop my seeds and not have to do any other steps like using peat cups. Normally everything sprouts right up except maybe one or two which I would just drop in a couple seeds to make up. Anyways, this year I had trouble. Germination rates took double the time.
Eventually I got what I wanted to sprout. Everything was growing so slowly than in past experiance. During the day, even though I provided ample water all my plants would wilt. I changed watering, and experimented to make sure I was not doing something wrong.. No matter what I did, as soon as the sun hit my plants they would wilt. the wilt would start within 15 minutes of direct sun hitting them. My plants were yellow with brown spots. I thought the soil was not giving them somthing and blamed "Organic" as the culprit... So, I used a little miracle gro and asked for a miracle. Nothing happened. My plants did continue to grow but all the leaves were a yellowish color.. I would hit them with more nitrogen and it seems to nurse them along. The brown spots them toruned into holes, like the leaves were smoldering like a piece of burnt paper. The Cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew all died.. I performed a mercy killing. One plant did start to make a honeydew melon but I knew it would be no good. The strawberry is technically alive, green. It has not grown at all. I am surprised how old these leaves are and are still looking ok. But no strawberries either,
In response I took all the soil out, put it in a huge bin and added in compost and other common additives thinking the soil was deficient. Same results again. Today I finally tackled what I think it may be... The symptoms seem to match a nematode (root-knot). Although I did not pay attention to the roots when I pulled the plants, I do remember how they were bunched at the top of my pots and nothing really in the middle and the bottom had very little. I didnt see any knots, but I wasnt looking for them either.
My catnip plant I think has fallen victim to the same issue I think. Its the same soil. I have parts of the plant that is super healthy and normal yet on the same branch there is another portion and that dying away. Sun makes it wilt, growth has really slowed down to a crawl. I am about to mercy kill it as well. Actually, tomorrow I think I will because I am so frustrated at this whole situation. I have never had this happen.
What are my options? Can I do something with the soil to kill the problem? do I just attempt to throw it all away? Are these thing highly contagious? I am a little concerned because a few months ago I did throw some "scrap" soil into a flower bed and my compost bin. Does this even sound like a correct diagnosis? I do have pictures if need be.
I am so sorry about the long post... I have a real issue articulating whats on my mind and doing it efficiently like normal people. I try really hard to condense, but as I stated earlier I seem to have issues. Anyways, growing sweet things is one of my hobbies and passion. I also live in florida if that helps for location of diseases. thanks everyone.