2021 Garden plans

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  • #29592
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    For now I’ve moved the grow lights further away, the plants might have been getting too hot even though LED lights don’t generate that much heat.

    Interestingly enough, not all the tomato seedlings are affected, so far.

    #29601
    BakerAunt
    Participant

    Mike, I asked my husband about your tomato plants. He said it’s not heat, as the leaves would have dead spots on them. It would not be too much fertilizer, or they would wilt. It could be too little fertilizer but unlikely since only some are showing the symptoms. He thinks it might be too much water around the roots. Too much water means not enough oxygen, and the root cells cannot take up enough of the nutrients if there is not much oxygen for the cells to survive.

    #29604
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    The plants are in a tray of 35 fiber pellet pots (that expanded when they got wet), with the pots sitting on a sponge that has its ends in a tub of water (the brand is Planter’s Pride), so the pots are supposed to be damp on the bottom, because the pellet pot is sitting on a damp sponge, but I’m going to hold off on watering it for a while.

    The folks at Earl May thought this was a good system for tomatoes, and they sprouted nicely.

    Over-fertilization is possible, I suppose, I did put liquid plant food in twice.

    I’m curious to know how hydroponics keeps the roots from getting too damp. I may have to read up on how hydroponics really works.

    #29609
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    I drained off some of the liquid under the plants after watering it down a bit in case there’s too much plant food.

    Here’s what the plants looks like this evening:

    plants

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    #29614
    BakerAunt
    Participant

    Mike–I zoomed in on your picture for my husband so that the leaves could be seen. He says the green veins on the young leaves suggest severe iron deficiency. That can come from waterlogged soil, but you might want to see what the pH of the water is. If it is alkaline, the iron will not be readily available.

    Be sure the iron provided is given in a chelated form, which would be pH insensitive.

    He still suggests that there be no standing water in the pan.

    #29615
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    I got most of the water out last night, I’m not sure if I can get the rest out without having the plants fall over or out.

    My pH meter says the water we use for the plants (we let it sit for a couple of days before using it on plants so the chlorine dissipates) is between 7.2 and 7.3, so slightly alkaline.

    I remember from our hot water heater/dishwasher problems several years back that our city water changed its standard pH a few years back, which changed the type of anodes that were needed in water heaters to avoid having the water develop a sludge (which was clogging up the water valve in our basement dishwasher, causing it to fail.)

    #29619
    BakerAunt
    Participant

    My husband says that the alkaline level is ok. He says it clearly is an iron deficiency that can be from too much water and/or not enough iron. You might want to check what kind of iron is in the nutrient solution you used.

    You can buy chelated iron if it isn’t in the nutrient solution.

    #29627
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    I used some of the liquid plant food that came with our Aerogarden, which is a 4-3-6 plant food. The label also lists calcium at 1% and potassium at 0.5%, I do not see iron listed on the label. At this point, the reservoir is nearly dry so I’ll watch the plants for a day or two, I don’t want them to die from drying out, either, though.

    The bottle says it is ‘Miracle Gro’, but when I look up Miracle Gro products on the Scott’s site, at least some of those have iron in them. Web reviews of their new Liquafeed line have not been very positive.

    I was going to try to ask the professor in Agronomy and Horticulture at UNL who runs the hydroponics lab, but he’s unavailable right now.

    I generally only try to start plants inside once a year, so my hands-on experience is pretty limited, and I’m not sure having an Aerogarden adds much experience.

    I can send higher resolution pictures via email if that’d help your husband analyze them. What I posted was a medium-resolution iPhone shot, my Canon goes up to 6000 x 4000 pixels and I’ve got a 90mm macro lens.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 6 days ago by Mike Nolan.
    #29632
    BakerAunt
    Participant

    He does not think that he needs a higher resolution picture.

    He suggests adding some chelated iron to your water/fertilizer mix. The current leaves will not get any better, but the new leaves should come out healthy.

    #29712
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    I was able to get some chelated iron online (none of the local garden supply places stock it) and I added a small amount to the watering liquid on Friday. Most of the plants are looking better already, but I had cut back on the water in the tray early last week, so that may have been a major factor.

    Six of them (including one that grew from a seed that didn’t get into a pellet pot) had gotten large enough that they were crowding out the light from the littler ones, I’ve moved them to separate 3″ peat pots under another grow light and that should give the smaller ones more space (and better light) to grow. I think I was able to save enough of the roots of the one that wasn’t in a pellet pot for it to survive, and I think I know what variety it was, too.

    I’ll continue to move the bigger ones to their own pots over the next several days, I need to set up another rack up with some grow lights.

    #29715
    BakerAunt
    Participant

    I’m glad to hear that your tomatoes are perking up, Mike. My husband was surprised that the gardening stores did not have chelated iron, but I reminded him that these days, one never knows if stores will carry what we expect. (At least that is true of the grocery stores around here.)

    Today, my husband started our tomato plants inside. We are having unseasonably warm weather today and probably tomorrow, but of course that could change quickly at this time of year, as it did last week when we had two nights of freezing temperatures.

    #29716
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    Yeah, it hit 91 here today, but tomorrow’s high is supposed to be 78, then down to the 60’s for a couple of days. A regular roller coaster.

    It used to be a pretty safe bet to plant tomatoes in the garden on Mother’s Day here, but in the last 10 years we’ve had 5 with temperatures in the 30’s and wind chill in the 20’s after May 15th, so I’m not in a big hurry to plant outside. The years it didn’t get super cold it often rained for 2 weeks in late May making it hard to plant anything until the soil dried out some.

    #29722
    chocomouse
    Participant

    Yes, the weather sure is a roller coaster this year. It is 28* and going down right now, at 2:00 a.m. Our last average frost date is May 15; I’ve been keeping records for 36 years now. I usually don’t plant anything outside until Memorial Day, but may try a small planter on the deck with lettuce and spinach this week. And for once, I’d love two weeks of rain this year, as we are officially in a drought, but there is no rain beyond “a chance of showers” in the forecast for several weeks.

    #29723
    cwcdesign
    Participant

    Even here the weather has been off and on. Last week Will was getting discouraged because some issues were cropping up (hah) such as spots on the chard – he pulled those out, but he’s been using neem oil, hydrogen peroxide and copper regularly to help prevent various diseases. I’ve tried to buy disease resisistan seeds then possible.

    Last night his efforts were rewarded when he discovered the cherry and beefsteak tomatoes, the peppers and eggplants as well as the squash were fruiting!

    We are starting the debate as to weather we want to continue with the community plot or just grow enough for us in planters at the house. There are so many variables including having all the owners of our plot working – each season, the work has seemed to fall on one of us and we love it, but . . . and then there’s sometimes not enough harvest for everyone based on the amount of work.

    #29847
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    I had pulled up the ground cloth covering the garden earlier this week, and today it was dry enough that I was able to make two passes through the garden with our small rototiller. I put the ground cloth back down again, so now I’m basically ready to transplant tomatoes as soon as the soil temp is high enough, possibly later this week. (We’re supposed to get some lows in the low 40’s or high 30’s for the next few days, but by Thursday it should stay above 50 for the next several weeks.)

    It’d be nice to have the tomatoes in before the end of May for a change. Might actually get some fresh tomatoes in early July.

    The thunderstorms rolled in as expected after sunset, so I’m glad I got the ground cloth back down.

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