First time 5-1-1 - concerned

tsheets(5)May 27, 2012

I am trying a 5-1-1 mix for the first time this year for (mostly) peppers. I am a little concerned that something is a little off.

I have a few overwintered peppers and some new seedlings this year. Several of the new guys have wavy/rippled leaf edges (not burnt or damaged looking) and the plants overall don't seem to be putting out much growth, but, they are growing some. Some of the overwintered ones (as well as a couple new ones) are pale green / yellowing.

My first thought was overwatering. So, I cut back on the yellowing ones. Maybe I didn't give it enough time, but, when they didn't get happy, I started increasing the feeding concentration from about 1/4 to 1/2 or even full strength (Foliage Pro 9-3-6).

I am still having difficulty and am wondering if it is a PH issue. I am using (roughly) screened pine bark mulch, not sure how composted it is. My thought is that the lime (epsoma) may have not gotten evenly distributed when I mixed everything up. It just seems like such a small amount that gets mixed in with a big old pile of ingredients.

How can I test the ph? I am afraid if I just check runoff, it will drain so quickly that I won't get an accurate reading. Once I have that information and results, I can decide next steps.

Is this a common problem, especially with first timers?

Thanks for your help!

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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

dont worry wait 2 weeks

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 12:36AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Tsheets!
Some of my seedlings have rippled edges, as well, but it's never been a problem.


    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 11:58AM
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Hey Josh:)))

Tsheets, it's almost impossible to overwater in the 5.1.1 mix with that much sunlight If made correctly. In fact, I would make sure your thoroughly wetting your mix since it can repel water in spots throughout if you did not soak it before hand to become evenly moist

You live in zone 5? I do too and in a few days time your peppers will start looking great with consistantly warmed temps at night.
Foliage Pro has never let me down givin you use it quite often , and warmer temps will facilitate its benefits.

If you used lime when making your mix, pH should be fine. I tend to think your temps is more of an issue than anything based on your info


    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 12:56PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Mike! :-)
(Just sent you a couple return e-mail messages)!

While my seedlings are still small in 4-inch pots, I do have to be careful not to water too often.
Right now, I'm watering every 2 to 4 days. If I water more frequently, my plants begin to turn a
lighter green. Here's a recent pic of my seedlings; click for the full-size image:


    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 1:17PM
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I haven't really felt like the temps have been too bad, really. It's been unseasonably warm most of the Spring.

I took a couple of pics...visuals are never a bad thing, right? :-)

Here's an example of jagged edges:

I have a few that are that way. But, not all are.

Here are a couple of the yellow / light green ones.

This one was overwintered and transplanted into 5-1-1 in about a 7 gal container 3-4 weeks ago. It is noticeably lighter green than the others. Some others have a bit of yellowing on the lower leaves. Not too terribly worried about those, though.

Here is a comparison I am doing. The same type of pepper (suave orange) that were started in commercial mix in 3" pots and transplanted about 3 weeks or so ago, one into the 5-1-1 and one in the commercial mix+perlite that I had been using. The other one has taken off like crazy, but the one in 5-1-1 is much smaller and is lighter green / pale. They are in 1 gal pots currently.

Anyway, Maybe I am over-reacting but I am just not feeling comfortable and since I am new to this, thought I'd check in to see if there's anything I am missing / doing wrong.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 8:24PM
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hello all...been reading for a few yrs. this is my second post so its kind of a introduction also. tsheets i too grow peppers in the 5 1 1 mix and have had some similar problems your having my first year using it. i also use fp as my main fertilizer regime, now having said that i will use miracle grow 30-10-10 half a Tbl spoon per gallon of water and 1/4 epsom salt every two weeks. i have found this helps me with any nitrogen tie up form the bark, and peppers being heavy feeders of n they seem to respond well. Meyermike your post i feel is spot on and tsheets you will be happy with your yields :) i am no expert and greenman meyermike al tapla i have learned lots from you and all the others on gardenweb..tyvm for having me. srry for the long post.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 12:15PM
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Thank again, everyone. I'll mostly sit tight for now. As you can see in the last pic I posted, I have gotten out the wooden skewers to try and get a better feel for the moisture further down in the pot. It seems that there is still quite a bit of moisture in most of the pots (smaller ones obviously less so). So, for now, I'll just keep testing with the skewers and give it time.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 12:00PM
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For pH testing, I've found that runoff isn't a very good test unless the water has been in the container for a long time. With 5:1:1 and it's superior drainage, it's hard to get any amount of water that has been in the soil for any amount of time. Best way to test pH in 5:1:1 is to take several samples from the pot from different areas of the soil. Mix it in a jar with rainwater or distilled water and stir. Wait a bit. Then measure the pH of this water after it has sat for a bit.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 2:00PM
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That's pretty much what I was thinking, Capoman. I think for now, I'll wait it out and see if things improve. That, and I don't have a test kit. :-) If things don't get better in a couple of weeks, I'll be checking it just to be sure.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 6:49PM
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redshirtcat(6a MO StL)

If you want a professional opinion you can send a sample to a lab like JR Peter's, Logan, or your local extension office, etc.

If you have a high quality pH meter and some distilled water you can do the "pour through" test that you can read about at NC State University:

Do not skip steps. Follow the directions. Make sure your meter is calibrated.

The process is more often used to track pH of container media over the life of a crop (to monitor relative fertilizer effects on pH and etc) - but it should give you a decent ballpark if you are still concerned.

For anyone interested FP is ~33% ammoniacal N, ~66% nitrate N. Several sources I read indicate that all other things being equal this should create acidic conditions in the pot over time (the general rule is if 3*NH4 > 1*NO3 then the fertilizer will generate acidity - see for one non-academic source). This gets modified by plant uptake, water quality, etc.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 1:35AM
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