poor job with peppers

Amherst, VA(Zone 7a)

I'm doing a poor job with my sweet peppers. I have used compost and the bag of cheap stuff from Walmart (humus with 10% manure). I have also applied Scotts fertilizer and Miracle Grow. There has been an abundance of rain this year. I am guessing the soil preparation is what is lacking and the peppers need manure. Any advice would be appreciated.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm always a fan of applying fish emulsion.

Tiskilwa, IL

If they really do need more fertility/nitrogen, what I use is chicken manure, it all depends on what you can get. Fish emulsion is also real good for a quick shot of fertility. Any fertilizer that's liquid, including any kind of manure tea or compost tea (I'm currently just mixing aged chicken manure into buckets of water & using that) is good for giving them a boost when they're in the middle of their growth.

What do they look like, though? Leaves too yellow & not green enough? Growing too slow? That would help us know what exactly is wrong.

I will add that it's possible to overfertilize peppers. I did that last year. You get an abundance of lush leaves but they set fewer fruit.

Amherst, VA(Zone 7a)

The plants were purchased and have been in the garden for 2 months. The leaves are not as lush as I have seen other years, they are a bit curled over also. Not much fruit, they start then drop off. The tops of some of the peppers I do have are rough looking and have a gray color to them.

Tiskilwa, IL

Oh dear. Fruit dropping off is a serious problem... but I'm not certain what causes it. My gut tells me it may be something more than inadequate fertility, but I'm not greatly experienced with peppers. It may be a specific mineral deficiency of some kind.

I'll have to consult my gardening guru neighbor on this and check back in. (Maybe someone else here will be able to tell you between now and then... I'll try not to let it take too long.)

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

vicjova -

If your soil is staying too wet, your peppers' roots may be rotting.

I'm wondering if you have applied too much fertilizer. If so, the roots may have been burned, and died.

I'm not a fan of purchasing vegetable plants unless they have come immediately from the plant nursery. I see droopy plants in big-box stores, which means the roots have dried out. When these plants are placed in the garden, they have to regrow their roots, while trying to put on top growth. The end result is that they do not do well.

How did the plants' roots look before you put them in the garden? Were they nice and white? Were the roots very crowded? Was the soil dry?

All these things can lead to success or failure.

Amherst, VA(Zone 7a)

I read the instructions, I thought I was being careful. Maybe not careful enough. I put the fertilizer down July 1st. If they are still here in September I'll skip the second application and try again next year. I don't remember what the roots looked like. Since there has been much rain this year, a question about Miracle Grow. Since it is mixed with water, if the rain continues do I feed it to my plants according to a regular schedule or do I hold it back until there is a break in the rain?

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

vicjova - thanks for the update, it's good to have more information

Did you use liquid or granular fertilizers? If you have added NO fertilizers or manure since July 1st, then I think it's safe to fertilize your peppers again. Follow the label directions. Don't wait for a break in the rain.

Because of all the rains we have been having, liquid fertilizers will wash out of the ground more quickly than granulated ones.

Are you using a fertilizer that says it's for vegetables?

Alexandria, VA

My peppers aren't doing well this year either. They are the exact same varieties I grew last year and last year they were fantastic. Not sure what the problem is but they just never took off after being planted outside. Seems like each year there is one crop that doesn't do well and I guess this years it's the peppers turn.

Amherst, VA(Zone 7a)

Scotts all purpose flower and vegetable, granular. It even says tomato and peppers on the package. I also use miracle-grow every two weeks.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

vicjova - it's okay to alternate these fertilizers, but I would not use both at the same time. Too much fertilizer will not give you more fruit.

Houston, TX

What I have found vey helpful to most of my pepper problems was the folowing site:

Prior to reading it, I had not relized how essential ready available calcium is (and why my pepper seeds had such poor germination in my peat moos tablets). So now when my pepper leafs look anything but shiny dark green, they get a generous helping of bone meal, and shortly after they pay meback with extra blossoms.

Hope that helps!
Happy gardening!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I gave up peat moss some time ago. Mainly because once it dries out, it's hard to get it to re-wet.

I much prefer coconut coir - the finer kind, not the coarse.

Here's my homemade potting mix recipe. Some of these items can be purchased locally in smaller amounts. This blend has been formulated over several years and has proven to be a successful method for starting seeds indoors in small pots.

Potting soil recipe:

1 brick classic coir soaked in 4qts hot water makes a little over one gallon

1 gallon worm castings, keep bag closed after each use to prevent drying

2 gallons chunky perlite

1 gallon coarse vermiculite

2 tablespoons bone meal

teaspoon trace elements

4 tablespoons dolomite lime

cup soil moist

cup Numus

1 cup crab shell

1 tablespoon triple phosphate

Amherst, VA(Zone 7a)

Thanks for the advice. I will start making plans for next year's peppers.

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