Problems with maters in 5-1-1

berry-nut(4b-SouthWestWI)February 4, 2011

Hi All,

After lurking here for a long time I gathered things for Al's 511 last year. I transplanted maters into it in Aug. they grew well but had leaves that curled downward and inward. They did produce in the greenhouse till the 1st of the year, but most of the leaves exhibited this. This year my plants were doing fine until I up potted them from 4" pots with MG potting mix to 1 Gal pots with Al's mix. One week later they are doing the same as last year, curling leaves and all.

I'm wondering if the fines aren't composted enough and more N is needed or if I have a mater disease.

I'm just looking for possible answers.

P.S. Even though I'm having problems I really like the 511 for all the reasons stated by people.



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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Jake,
My tomato's in the ground did this last summer too, so I am curious to hear what it could be.

I used the 5-1-1 also last summer for tomato's with great success, so I'm thinking the ones I had in the ground had a disease.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 3:06PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

What are you fertilizing with? How much/how often, and what are the soil temps? How is leaf color? Same bark supply that the soil was made from last year?

Wet soil is a common cause of leaf curl - are you confident about your watering habits - that you're not over-watering, which could be exacerbated at the point you bump pot size? (Sorry - had to ask) ;o)

Just for the sake of curiosity - is there any twisting of new foliage associated with the leaf curl?


    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 3:14PM
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prestons_garden(9B SZ 22 HZ 6 SoCal)

Too much watering as I had a very similar situation. Backed off on the watering, and with time, no more leaf curl.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 6:41PM
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Thanks for the responses guys,

Al, I'm using MG 24-8-16, 1tsp per 2 gallons water once a week. My soil temp is 68 degrees in the greenhouse. Leaf color is light green (I'm nervous about burning my plants with too much N, I've done it before)

The bark supply is the same as last year. I looked at the bag yesterday and the contents are "western fir and pine bark" I noticed now that it does not say "composted".

Al and Ron, you probably hit it on the head with overwatering, this will be my first full year trying to grow maters in containers and there are so many variables that I'm unsure of.

There doesn't seem to be any twisting of the foliage.

I REALLY appreciate the help guys


    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 8:37AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

OK - try using a sharpened dowel stuck deep into the containers to determine when they need watering.

Also, you're not using enough fertilizer. You can easily treble that amount, but double it first for a week or two & see what happens.

I asked about the twisted foliage because it could be a sign of the presence of one of many potential phytotoxins or even herbicides. Good deal on that.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 10:22AM
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Thanks for the advice Al.

I've read so many of your responses and can see the logic behind your advice time and time again, that I want to thank you for your time (I'm not trying to kiss your a$$ either) and I want to thank JoJo and Ron for their time too. Thanks again to all.

I will work on watering. It's so different in containers than regular gardening and will take some experimenting.

As for fert I did double it and tried it on a plant yesterday and it's still alive so I believe I can triple it and try it on one. In the garden it seems if you over fert they are dead or show signs the next day.

Thanks again

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 7:17PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You don't want to over-fertilize either. I'll leave you to your business, but I might just wait a week or so before I take the next step up, but of course it's your call.

Thanks for the kind words - I really appreciate the compliment.

Best luck!


    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 7:31PM
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Hi Everyone,
Just wanted to give an update. It seems that I was just having a problem with cold soil temps more than anything. With the cold temps it also affects how much water they use. After a few days with sun they really came along.

I now have head high plants and they're loaded with maters. The mix is great, when repotting the roots look great and are easy to fluff up.

BTW I have a mater plant in "potting mud" and it wilts often because I can only water in sips and have to do it 2 or 3 times to get the required amount of water to it. I am so happy with the 511.

My only problem now is that I'm out of PBF's and the place I got them doesn't carry them anymore :(

Thanks for the help guys.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 11:31AM
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From one Gritty Mix user to another, I'm glad to hear everything is working out well for you! :-)

It took me a little bit to adjust my watering habits, too... and soil temperature is a consideration.

I don't know exactly where you're at, Jake, but it might help to locate an orchid or bonsai grower... the nearest to you... I'll be getting my fir bark this year from Oak Hill Gardens in northern Illinois... Dundee, to be precise. There are other orchid grower in the Chicagoland area, and I'm sure still others in the more urban areas of Wisconsin. It's worth checking into.

Some of them offer bagged or bulk orchid bark in various grades... usually coarse, medium or fine... and the fine bark is usually about perfect for our uses, with a little screening.

In an emergency, you can always grab a small or medium bag of ZooMed ReptiBark from either PetsMart or another pet shop that caters to reptile owners. They use fir bark as bedding. It's rather expensive, so if you need a lot it might not be cost effective... but for a small batch of Gritty Mix, it's about perfect. And, no screening required!

I have about a 3 and a half hour drive to reach Oak Hill Gardens, but if I can get a bulk amount of fir bark, it'll be a trip well worth it. I can also check out all the orchids, which I love... and my kids don't live far away, so it's a nice weekend visit for us.

Just suggestions, of course... but it might help you to think about what's in your area, or who might carry a comparable pine bark product... hope it helps! :-)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 1:25PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I suspected soil temps and mentioned it right away in my first post.

How close are you to the Carpentersville/Dundee, IL area? You might call Greg or Liese at Oakhill Gardens there (847) 428-8500 and see if they can give you a line on fir bark in your area - or from them. I get my product from them and I think it has just gone up in price, but still a bargain at only $20 in 3 cu ft bags. I was paying $15 for 20 bags or more.

Sorry about the problems with your other plants in the heavy soil. Can you double pot or use a wick to help make the soil drain better? use the wood dowel/skewer to test for when it's appropriate to water?


    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 2:27PM
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