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Reason for tall, spindly plants

Posted by sharon_midtn (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 27, 09 at 13:08


My first year gardening and spring success was minimal but I'm not giving up! I had my soil tested and it was very high in phosphorus and high in potassium but they didn't test the nitrogen. I have a raised bed in full all day sun and my spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. all grew very tall and spindly. They weren't crowded at all. Would this have been because of too much nitrogen or not enough? Also, I unknowingly planted them late, around 4/17 so they got more heat than they like and never produced anything but leaves. I'm getting ready to prepare my soil for some fall crops and wondering if and how much nitrogen I need to add (if any). Any help will be greatly appreciated!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Reason for tall, spindly plants

spinach, cauliflower, broccoli,

Are all cool weather, early spring crops so most likely it was the heat from planting them too late. In mid-TN shoot for early March. Their response to heat is to bolt - grow tall and spindly and go to seed.

Nitrogen levels in soil are seldom tested as it isn't a stable nutrient and subject to fluctuation depending on the weather. Even back when they did test it they just made the standard recommendation of ___ amts. to add since it dissipates so readily.

I wouldn't worry about adding any fertilizer before fall planting but if you do try something that is low-dose straight N such as fish meal or liquid fish emulsion. You don't need anything else based on your soil test.


RE: Reason for tall, spindly plants

Thanks Dave,

I was a beginner and went by what the seed packs said then later researching this forum realized that most of what I planted should have been planted earlier, but the bed wasn't really ready before then. Also we had a pretty cool and wet spring so I was hoping for the best and calling it a learning experience, lol! Some of these things started out with 1/2" to 1" of stalk between leaves and as the spring/summer progressed it went to 3" - 4" inches of stalk between leaves. Pretty weird looking! The spinach grew very tall and spindly but at least it did put out lots of small leaves. My lettuce didn't do that, it was very pretty but the leaves were already bitter by the time it got to a size to harvest a few leaves.

I'll hold off on nitrogen then. Would it be advisable to work a little blood meal in the planting hole or side dress with it when I set out the transplants? Or later in the season?

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