Smaller plants ( Chili )and seedlings doing poorly in gritty mix?

nguyenty(9, Los Angeles)April 10, 2012

I have 3 Chili plants and they are doing very poorly in the gritty mix. They are all droopy like the photo below.

I removed the old soil from the roots. Maybe there was too much root disturbance for a small plant ? That's the only explanation I can think of. It has been over a month and they seem to be getting worse and doesn't seem to be growing.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

How was the soil made (what ingredients)? Screened? How often are you watering? fertilizing?

Al

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 9:02PM
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nguyenty(9, Los Angeles)

Turface MVP and a1 granite grit. I don't use bark. My grape vines are doing really well.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 10:05PM
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nguyenty(9, Los Angeles)

forgot to mention that I did screen the materials

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 10:23PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

What is A1 granite grit? Does it have anything added to it (like calcium or crushed shellfish shells)?

Water/fertilizer frequency? What fertilizing with?

What ratio did you use, Turface:grit?

The 1:1:1 gritty mix works great for peppers when it's made correctly, so there is a methodology issue in play - either how the soil was made or in the cultural conditions the plant has to deal with.

Al

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 2:42PM
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nguyenty(9, Los Angeles)

The granite grit is pure granite. I used a 2:1 turface to granite ratio. I water about once every 3 days. I am fertilizing with miracle-gro soluble (about 1 tsp per gallon of water) fertilizer once a month.

How big / old should plants be before I remove the soil and plant it in the gritty mix ? It seems as if the plant can barely stand up on its own in the gritty mix because it is so small. The plant slants to the side frequently.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 7:30PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I don't think you're fertilizing frequently enough.

I'll defer to Al, but it sure seems that you ought to be fertilizing more than once a month...
I'm fertilizing my overwintered pepper once a week at this point, with a reduced strength dose.

Josh

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 1:35AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You're grossly over-watering. You have a lot more water retention because or the 2:1 Turface:grit ratio AND because the mix is now 2/3 small particles (of Turface), which means you now have perched water to contend with. I might have gone with a 2:1 ratio of Grit:Turface, or a 1:1 ratio. I would insert a wick and make sure it's effective by having it in contact with the soil beneath the pot or dangling beneath it after watering, and significantly reduce the watering frequency.

What fertilizer NPK %s are you using? I'm with Josh in my thinking that plants aren't getting enough nutrients, but I don't think that's the issue. I think the issue is in soil/water relationships.

Al

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 7:22AM
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nguyenty(9, Los Angeles)

I am using 24-8-16 Miracle-gro soluble fertilizer

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 7:48AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

When plants are growing well (65-80*), I usually used a heaping tablespoon in 2 gallons of water, weekly. You would probably need to use a little less - 1 - 1-1/2 tsp per gallon weekly; this, because you won't be watering nearly as often as I would, because of the difference in soil formulations.

Try watching the plant(s) carefully, looking for the first signs of wilt - THEN water. I don't suggest that as a normal matter of course, only to give you a feel for how long the plants CAN go between waterings. I'm guessing that if the plants aren't in terra cotta, you'll find yourself watering every 10 days - 2 weeks with the soil you're using. Please keep us posted - I'm really interested in knowing if you get things turned around.

Al

Al

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 9:33AM
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fortyonenorth(6b)

Is it possible that the substrate hasn't been adequately hydrated? The times when I've had problems with gritty-type mixes is when they were too dry from the get-go. These very granular mixes are so free-draining that during the initial waterings, the water percolates through before the turface and/or bark can be hydrated.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 10:50PM
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