Veggie Tales: troubleshooting

I’ve been enjoying fresh salads and chard for a while now, as well as adding fresh green onions and herbs to my cooking. I recently planted the following: three tomato plants (Tommy Toes, Sun Gold, and Russian Red), a cucumber plant, bush beans, pole beans, and buttercup squash. So far, all are doing well. I had to stake the Gai Lan because it’s growing so tall – I’m still not clear how I’m going to end up with those familiar green stalks but there are flowers and I think that’s a good sign?

There is a mystery afoot, however. A while back I planted six rainbow chard plants. They were all from the same local supplier and all planted on the same day. I put four plants in one square foot plot, and two in the other along with two butter leaf lettuce. Well, the group of four have been growing at a faster rate than the group of two. Here they are, photos taken at the same time:

These photos were taken a few weeks ago now, and the group on the top has since grown to wonderful heights and been harvested at least three times. Of the two chard plants in the bottom photo, only the one on the right has just reached harvestable height. The two other plants in the bottom photo (butter leaf lettuce) are also growing more slowly than their counterparts in the other SFG box (these were all planted from seed on the same day).

Finally, yesterday I harvested my third batch of radishes and wound up with these puny little morsels.

Now you might be noticing a pattern here: all the stunted veggies come from the same box. And, in fact, both the radishes and the chard/lettuce are in the same row. The two other plots in that row are empty, however one was where I made my very first harvest, with pretty decent-sized radishes. And in the row behind this row there is a plot thick with onions. In the back row of this box are thriving sugar snap peas and a buttercup squash that has sprouted from seed in just a couple of weeks and looking good. On the other hand, the small stuff is in the same row as the garlic that rotted. I did root through the soil before planting the radishes and I couldn’t see any signs of rot or mildew in there; the soil looked and smelled good.

The interesting thing about my stunted veggies is that they look very healthy, they’re just small. In fact the radish leaves were no smaller than those of the two previous batches. Even the smallest chard plant looks green and healthy, with no sign of rot or infestation. It’s just not really growing.

I don’t understand what is happening.

At the last farmer’s market there was a table set up by a local gardening club with a sign saying “Ask a Gardener”. So I told them my Tale of Two Chards and they were stumped. The only guess they could make was that the first box had been filled with soil for weeks during a rather cold spring, whereas I mixed up the soil for the second box right before I planted in there. Perhaps the soil was much colder in the first box and “shocked” the plants. However, that doesn’t explain the radishes – which were planted later than the chard. Also, the warm weather around planting time did not last, meaning the soil in the second box couldn’t have stayed warm for long.

If anybody has any suggestions as to how to explain this, please let me know! In the meantime, I’m still getting great greens! I would just like to figure out what I did wrong.

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Categories: gardening, know your food | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Veggie Tales: troubleshooting

  1. I don’t have any suggestions, but my chard planted at the same time in the same bed is having mixed results too, so maybe it just has something to do with the genetics of the plants?

    My radishes did the same thing too, with some growing well and some not in the same bed, but both the chard and radishes were planted early and we had a long cold snap.

    Unrelated, but I thought of you with this. We planted tomatoes and bell peppers in our own homemade “earthboxes” and they’re doing great, so I thought you might be interested since they’re ideal for smaller spaces. We paid about $25 for enough materials to make three. You can search for homemade earthbox to find all kinds of plans.

  2. Hm. Isn’t that weird. I have no suggestions, just a similar wondering about the oddity of it all. It does seem to suggest that something is different in that row. Maybe a soil testing kit is in order?

  3. No ideas. I planted my first garden this year, and my radishes look exactly as those in your picture. Some are decent, but a large portion are thin.

  4. My cucumber plants are turning brown from inside of the vine to outside. Why?

  5. ruralaspirations

    Lynn, I have no idea. If you see my most recent Veggie Tales post you’ll read that my cucumber plant is not doing so well, either.

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