Argh, I can't figure out what is wrong with my peas!

jemsister(7)May 22, 2014

I can't figure out if I'm overwatering, underwatering, it's too hot, or they aren't spaced enough? I was told they could grow a couple of inches apart and that they would climb each other, and they seem to be doing that. But they have been struggling for a couple of weeks now, and I can't figure out what to do. They get wilted during the sunny part of the day (sunrise until about 2, then they get shade the rest of the day), so I'm thinking it might be heat.

I'm monitoring the soil very carefully, trying to keep it moist but not soggy (you can't wring any water out, if that makes sense, but the soil is still damp). There are about three or four vines that are yellowing, so I thought maybe overwatering, but I pulled one to check the root, and the root looked great--nice and healthy. The rest of the vines are more of the normal vine color, but they are very droopy in the sun. It hasn't been extraordinarily warm here. In the mid 70s.

I picked a couple of strange looking leaves off a vine that has the normal coloring, and they look like this. They are new leaves from the very top of the vine. Is my plant diseased? Last year I grew my peas in full south facing sun, spaced about 6-10" apart, and in poor soil to boot, and they grew so incredibly well. I didn't have any of these problems. But they are growing in a new spot, only get morning and a couple of hours of afternoon sun, and they are in good, new soil. Spacing is about 2" apart, like I had read. Are they just choking each other out? Would it be worthwhile to sever some of them to give the rest more room?

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jemsister(7)

Here is a recent picture of the peas. The lighter vines pictured have been growing more and more yellow.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 2:01PM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

It looks like you are growing in split soil bags, is that right?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 5:00PM
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jemsister(7)

Yes, they're in soil bags. Last year they were in ground, in poorly drained soil, but somehow they did great.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 5:44PM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

Hard to tell from here, but I worry that the bags don't have the volume needed.

To throw an idea out there for wider consideration, maybe tip the bags up and slice them so that roots can go through into that bad soil. Then they can decide how far they want to go.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 6:11PM
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woodlandpatio

Fusarium wilt? Can you show us a whole vine?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 6:34PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Maybe they have scurvy?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 6:58PM
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jemsister(7)

I pulled another one, and the roots look like this. =( Is that fusarium?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 5:58PM
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jemsister(7)

I can't figure out how to post more than one picture in each post. Here is what the inside of the root looks like, I split it open.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 5:59PM
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jemsister(7)

This is the vine itself. Pale and limp, turning yellow slowly.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 6:26PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

They actually don't look too bad. Just because they are growing in bags of soil, it doesn't mean they are getting enough food. Maybe a dose of fast acting plant food will help. Too much water can be bad thing. They look like snap peas to me by their height.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 10:17PM
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jemsister(7)

I think they might be diseased. We had several long stretches of heavy rain this spring, I'm wondering if that somehow contributed? I posted more recent pictures in a couple of posts above, where the top of the root is black, but the inside is normal looking, except for an orange streak. I went and checked the stems of my vines yesterday evening and found that the worst of them had the same blackness, so I pulled those. I hope the rest will be okay...

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 1:18PM
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woodlandpatio

It looks like it is wilt or a very similar fungal disease. Because these things tend to be soil borne, it may have some from your bags. :(

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 7:39AM
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jemsister(7)

That's what I get for buying the cheaper soil, I guess. Blah. Well, I guess I will have to figure out a different place to plant my fall peas. Is it safe to grow a non-legume there instead? You know, like lettuces or spinach?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 11:36AM
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woodlandpatio

I really recommend that you toss those bags. Fusarium can infect any vegetable. And even if it's not fusarium, I really can't recommend planting in soil where diseased plants have been.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 1:55PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I don't think you'd get fusarium from a fresh bag of soil mix no matter how cheap. It is soil borne. I am wondering if the problem might be root rot from too much moisture? That black stem near the base looks like what I've seen in houseplants in potting mix that doesn't drain well. I'm only growing peas for the first time this year, so I don't know a lot about their needs. Mine are in an Earthbox and packed in closer than yours, with about 30 in a 15-gallon pot. They seem quite healthy, and the soil is of course evenly moist because that's what happens in EBs. But it is a very light, peat-based mix with added pine bark fines that is never soggy. Maybe you could add more drainage holes to your bags and let them dry out more between waterings.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:34PM
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jemsister(7)

Part of the issue is weather. We have had a ton of rain this spring, especially early on, when they were young. They started showing problems when it first warmed up, after having been totally drenched by a couple of weeks of solid rain. I think all the wet, followed by the warm temps, may have encouraged the fungus to grow (if it is fungus).

If it's really fusarium, what should I do with the soil? Can I put it in my yard waste bin?

I wondered a day or two ago if the unevenness of the ground that the bags are resting (our lawn is kinda "bumpy") could have caused there to be pockets of water in the bags, and if they haven't been able to drain properly. But then again, if the moisture finger test in the soil is adequate, could the bottom of the bags still be too wet? I mean it will get on the crumbly side of damp before I water (practically dry, really). I'm not sure if I'm describing my soil very well. What I do know, though, now that I am using it, is that it doesn't stay as loose as some other soils that I have used. So maybe they are suffocating?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 10:20PM
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woodlandpatio

I agree that you shouldn't get diseases from fresh potting soil. But that doesn't mean it can't or won't happen. Please see the photo below as an example, and look at your plants and see if they look similar.

It may be a different malady that looks a lot like wilt. You can remove the diseased plants, see if it clears up for you. If it doesn't, I would toss both the plants and the soil.

Here is a link that might be useful: Photo of Pea Roots with Fusarium

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 7:09AM
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jemsister(7)

I pulled the worst of them, and I didn't put them in the compost, just to be safe. I'm hoping the others hang in there. It's weird that they do better in the cooler, rainier weather, and then when the sun hits, that's when they wilt--yet their roots/stems look like they are rotting. The blossoms are starting to turn into baby peas, so they are getting pollinated and responding to that. I hope that is a sign that they do not have disease/fungus. They do look a lot like the picture you posted though. =( If they hang in there and produce a harvest, should I assume that they are not diseased and that the soil is fine?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 11:07AM
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woodlandpatio

I wouldn't assume that they're not diseased, it may have been that those plants that have survived are being (so far) more resistant to whatever is afflicting them.

If you do decide to keep the plants for now, please be mindful that diseases can spread via any tools you use on the diseased plants. So wash your tools thoroughly, or better yet, use a separate set of tools when you work with your healthy plants.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 11:24AM
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jemsister(7)

Okay, good to know about the tools. I guess I will just put the whole thing in yard waste when they're finished. I'm growing super sugar snaps, which I don't think are particularly resistant to disease, but I could very well be wrong. I live in a very damp climate, perhaps next year I should find a variety that is resistant to fungus. I'm not sure what I grew last year, but it did great. I don't think it was Super Sugar Snap though, because it looked slightly different. The foliage was bigger, and they got to be about 6.5 feet tall, or perhaps taller (they started to fall over, so even leaning over, they were about 6 feet).

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 11:44AM
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jemsister(7)

Picture of the soil that the peas are in, and also the stems of the peas.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 8:52PM
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manda99(5a)

Did you cut drainage holes in the bottom of the soil bags?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 10:02AM
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jemsister(7)

Yep, sure did. The soil is odd though. I thought of a way to describe it last night--kinda pulpy. Like wet paper or wet sawdust. I think it is very heavy on wood stuff.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 12:20PM
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jemsister(7)

I cut the fronts off the bags and parts of the bottom (though mostly I couldn't get to the bottom without upsetting everything). The soil was evenly moist all the way through, so I think that answers the drainage question. But there were two places which looked a bit root-bound. Which means they are probably root-bound in the places I can't see as well. It's not super bad, but that might be part of the problem. Kind of a bummer. I didn't have root issues when I grew them in a container this size before (which is why I thought it would work), but I forgot to take into account that they were not planted so closely (I think they were more like 4 inches apart in that container).

I hope opening up the bags helps. =P

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 1:07PM
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jemsister(7)

I might be imagining things (I probably am, LOL!), but I think they might look a little better since opening them up. Maybe they were suffocating...

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 2:53PM
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jemsister(7)

Some more pictures of the peas. What should I do about the roots? I don't really have much of anything containing the soil, so I'm hesitant to disturb them, but should I leave them all bound up like that?

I still have some wilting, but it seems to be localized (just a few leaves, rather than the entire plant drooping), and it comes and goes. I'd say that overall, they look better, but they do still have some pale areas. Not yellow, but just kind of anemic looking.

This post was edited by jemsister on Wed, May 28, 14 at 14:36

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 2:33PM
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jemsister(7)

A picture of parts of the vines. You can see the "anemic" vine in the background, and then a slightly deformed leaf (I have a few of these, on different vines).

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 2:39PM
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