container cucumber roots too shallow

freshfields(Phi)November 18, 2006

been growing cucumber on containers and it seems that the roots are very shallow even after 2 months. was wondering what is the best remedy.

i suspect the reason why i am getting that kind of a root system is because i have too much water and it seems the roots does not have to work hard to seek water, hence the short length.

or .. could it be deficiency in P maybe ?

seek help ... thanks

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It is lack of O2 in the lower reaches of the container soil. Less frequent irrigation and/or a soil with better aeration/drainage will remedy the problem.

Al

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 9:05PM
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justaguy2(5)

Hey Freshfields,

How do you know the roots are shallow? What are you growing the plants in for a growing medium and what size/shape container? What are the temperatures in your area during the growing season for these cukes and how much sunlight are the plants getting?

Is the above ground portion of the plant growing as you would expect or is growth slow?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 10:31PM
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freshfields(Phi)

How do you know the roots are shallow? ... i pulled out two of my cuke plants because it wilted without any known reason.

What are you growing the plants in for a growing medium and what size/shape container? .... i am using a rounded soft pot with 36cm diameter and about 2 feet high. i use 25% volcanic cynder and 75% mix of vermi compost and coco peat.

What are the temperatures in your area during the growing season for these cukes and how much sunlight are the plants getting? ... plants are getting good sunlight from 6am up to 5pm, temp is around 77 - 86F

Is the above ground portion of the plant growing as you would expect or is growth slow? ... Thave above ground plant growth rate was good. size is also good. in a little less than 40 days, its around 7ft tall

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 6:31AM
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justaguy2(5)

Hmmm, I am going to lean toward what Al said concerning oxygenless media lower in the pot.

Not much you can do about it at this point and if the cukes are 7 ft tall they should perform fine anyway.

In the future you may wish to use a shallower pot, a coarser mix or install aeration lower in the pot. If the pot can be drilled into then by placing holes in the sides and screening those holes more oxygen can get into the lower portions. A 1/2-1"" pvc pipe with holes drilled in it and wrapped with screening material can also be inserted about 5" from the bottom from one side to the other to allow air to run through.

The vines which wilted with no apparent reason were probably victims of cucumber beetle induced bacterial wilt. They are a much greater concern than the shallow roots.

Getting more aeration in the bottom of the deep container would be a benefit, but avoiding bacterial wilt, a common problem with curcubits, is mandatory if you want a harvest.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 10:19AM
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freshfields(Phi)

the wilting problem is very strange. it first happened the week after a storm hit our area. prior to that, everything was doing so well.

i suspected it has something to do with the shallow root. my first guess was the strong wind pulled the plant so much that it may have injured the shallow roots. the trellis i made, i must admit, is pretty bad. its my first time to do cuke so what i did is trellis similar to tomatoes ..... one twine vertically without additional trellis support horizontally ... do you think this observation is valid ?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 5:22PM
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justaguy2(5)

It is impossible for me to say what happened to your cukes, but the sudden wilting is indicative of bacterial wilt. It is spread by cucumber beetles which feed on the leaves. One day the plants look fine, the next day they look droopy and the next day they are dead.

When you say shallow roots, how shallow are we talking? Also keep in mind that if you pulled the plants out by the stem rather than dumping the container out you may not have removed all the roots. The roots tend to get thinner as they go deeper and they tear easily.

Some cukes will climb vertically on a single piece of twine, others won't, it just depends on the variety. In any event I don't believe root damage from tearing in the weather caused the vines to wilt. Stem damage could do it, but root damage is unlikely to cause wilt if the potting medium was moist.

Just try again and keep an eye out for cucumber beetles, the bane of curcubit grower's existence. Here is a link to an excellent PDF with pics and control options for them: http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/PDF/cucumberbeetle.pdf

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 6:27PM
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freshfields(Phi)

justaguy2 ... thank you very much

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 7:04AM
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