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Something's the matter with these peppers. Opinions?

 
pollinator
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My peppers and tomatoes are planted together. They're in a new bed I reclaimed from the yard by putting down 6" or so of leaves topped with 2-4" of sheep and goat manure of mixed ages. Later, the whole shebang got mulched with wood chips, probably around 2". The tomato cage runs mostly north - south, with two peppers on the east getting morning sun and two on the west getting afternoon sun. The tomatoes love it.



The peppers don't.









I'm hoping that they're just overwatered or have a deficiency I can solve by adding a little of my actual soil or by mineral amendment or foliar feeding with something organic. I'd welcome opinions. Left to my own devices, they'll probably get a few cups of soil each, a dusting of DE, and a foliar feeding with fish emulsion. I've got some mild chemical fertilizer, miracle grow and osmocote, but would really like to see what can be done without that.
 
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It really looks like nitrogen deficiency. The leaves at the top look better than the bottom, so probably not sulfur deficiency, and the yellowing appears to be the full leaf rather than being interveinal. Interveinal chlorosis is a symptom of other nutrient deficiencies.

Nitrogen deficiency--Total chlorosis (yellowing) starts on the top of the leaf and eventually the whole leaf is yellow, starts on older leaves
 
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How long have they been in the ground in that spot?  Peppers seem like they can be pretty finicky - especially when I buy them in instead of start my own.  I have had years where they looked just like yours for a long time (longer than I would have liked) and then exploded.  I have had years where they never really got their crap together.  Some general thoughts - Were they root bound when transplanted?  Maybe they were over-fertilized at the nursery and are acclimating to "the real world"?
 
T Melville
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Brian Michael wrote:How long have they been in the ground in that spot?



My record keeping has failed me. We bought them June second. We planted the corn beside them on June sixteenth, I know they were planted before that.

Brian Michael wrote:Were they root bound when transplanted?



I don't know. My wife actually planted them.
 
T Melville
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Lauren Ritz wrote:It really looks like nitrogen deficiency. The leaves at the top look better than the bottom, so probably not sulfur deficiency, and the yellowing appears to be the full leaf rather than being interveinal. Interveinal chlorosis is a symptom of other nutrient deficiencies.

Nitrogen deficiency--Total chlorosis (yellowing) starts on the top of the leaf and eventually the whole leaf is yellow, starts on older leaves



I suspect there's enough nitrogen in the manure. Is there another nutrient the plant needs in order to uptake the nitrogen? Maybe that's deficient?
 
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If something else is needed for the nitrogen uptake, perhaps fungi could be it. I have purchased mycorrhizal fungi to mix with water, but in some other thread Dr. RedHawk recommended making a mushroom slurry, with fungi (edible or not) in the yard, in the fridge, or wherever in a blender or food processor with water. Maybe that would help, probably won’t hurt.
 
Lauren Ritz
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T Melville wrote:I suspect there's enough nitrogen in the manure. Is there another nutrient the plant needs in order to uptake the nitrogen? Maybe that's deficient?



Nothing in the information I have indicates that other nutrients are required for nitrogen uptake, but I wonder if the roots are being impacted by something--too much water? Too little? Too little air? Insects? Could the wood chips and leaves be robbing nitrogen? That usually only happens in the half inch or so surrounding the woody debris, but it's possible.
 
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It has been my experience that a pepper plant needs all 6 of it's allotted hours of sun. And room. The peppers I have planted too close to tomatoes are out competed for nutrients and eventually shaded out. Tomatoes are greedy, and fast growing.  

You might consider digging them up an move them at least 2 feet away from the tomatoes. Also, move the wood chips away from the pepper, just to the current drip line. The wood might be providing cover for pests. It looks like the pepper in the last picture is being nibbled.  If you decide to move the plants, dig about an inch further out than the drip line, if you can without harming the tomatoes. The goal is to not disturb the roots too much. Make sure you pick the new spot and dig and prepare the space first. Water the new hole and water the pepper before moving. Watch the plants, you may need to remove the fruit to help the plant recover.

Just my thoughts.  
 
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Brian Michael wrote:Peppers seem like they can be pretty finicky - I have had years where they looked just like yours for a long time (longer than I would have liked) and then exploded.  I have had years where they never really got their crap together.



I've had the same experience... And don't really know why. I planted my seedlings this spring and, for instance, one immediately put on a half foot of growth while the one right next to it stayed the same size for a month before it began to grow. Even now, there are some that are under a foot tall, but are trying to bloom and make tiny peppers.
I know peppers typically like magnesium and my last soil test said my magnesium level is "medium" so, when my peppers are looking especially weak, I will sprinkle some epsom salt around the base of the plant and water it in with some rain water. Some people prefer to do that via foliar spray, but it's usually easier for me to just to fill up a cup and take it out to sprinkle on them.
Hope you are able to figure out a solution!
 
T Melville
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I have two jalapeños in the other garden that look perfectly healthy. (Forgot to take a picture.)





It made me wonder if my soil has something in it that the manure lacks. So I scooped up a bunch from some mole hills in the pasture and put about a hand trowel and a half around each plant, mixed with some diatomaceous earth*. I also dusted them with the DE for bug control. I couldn't find my epsom salt, but it'll turn up or I'll get some, and I'll add a little of that too.

*Dr Redhawk once told me that DE can help plants to absorb certain nutrients from the soil, and that it's good for the microbiome.

Bryant RedHawk wrote:If you have some DE you might want to give the soil a light dusting, the silica will do some very good things for your microbiome and it will allow plants to draw in zinc and iron even with excessive quantities of P and K.

Redhawk



 
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I can’t speak for peppers, but this year I planted tomatoes in the ground for the first time. 5 different varieties, germinated in the greenhouse then planted out. They were at a mix of various stages, and some much more vigorous than others.

For the first few weeks some looked like your peppers, while others were deep green and thriving. A few weeks later they have all gotproperly established and are growing happily with vigour.

I put it down to their roots needing to grow from their old root ball to infiltrate the soil and get established. Some were just better at it than others.perhaps due to different potting mixes used?
 
T Melville
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Michael Cox wrote:I can’t speak for peppers, but this year I planted tomatoes in the ground for the first time...

For the first few weeks some looked like your peppers, while others were deep green and thriving. A few weeks later they have all got properly established and are growing happily with vigour...



Planting this way was an experiment. I knew tomatoes like manure, but didn't know if they'd grow in it, without soil. So I planted two and waited. They were fairly healthy looking when I bought them, but they became darker green in a week or two. So we planted a few more. Same result. So then we finished planting. A few in the last round were kinda spindly looking, but there was like a gradient all the way from almost yellowish green to nice dark healthy green. The longer they were there, the greener and darker they got. It's why we figured they liked it in there.
 
Anne Pratt
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T Melville,

Have your tomatoes started to flower?  I have some in containers where the imported soil is probably quite rich, and they are deep green but with only a few flowers.  Uh-oh!  I have some in the garden, too, that aren't growing that well but seem to have a bit of fungal damage.  I'm worried that the soil in the containers has too much nitrogen.  Growing like crazy, deep dark green, but maybe not many tomatoes.
 
T Melville
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Anne Pratt wrote:T Melville,

Have your tomatoes started to flower?  I have some in containers where the imported soil is probably quite rich, and they are deep green but with only a few flowers.  Uh-oh!  I have some in the garden, too, that aren't growing that well but seem to have a bit of fungal damage.  I'm worried that the soil in the containers has too much nitrogen.  Growing like crazy, deep dark green, but maybe not many tomatoes.



Yes. Flowers and green fruit. Looks like more than I usually get, but I moved to this bed because my other garden didn't get enough sun, so take that with a grain of salt.
 
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