A problem with my Pepper Plants?

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John W_in_Indy

New Member
Well darn, after getting my green bean issue resolved (I have three plantings up and doing VERY well now with the first in full bloom, the second filling in nicely and the third just popping up with nice healthy looking seedlings and 100% germination).

My pepper plants FINALLY started growing and branching off about mid May and have nearly doubled in size in the last thirty days. I had a couple of the plants bloom really early about a month ago, but I removed the fruit as soon as it set in order to allow the plants to continue to grow and branch out more first. A couple others bloomed really early, but dropped their blooms prior to fruit set which I really didn't worry about since I would have removed the fruit anyway.

One of the plants that bloomed really early (an orange bell pepper plant) dropped a couple of blooms and I removed two tiny fruits one from the first branch and another from the second.... is at the head of the class so far as far as height and total branch clusters. It's easily 24" tall with five branch clusters and four of those looking as though they will branch again. Late last week, two blooms set and had tiny fruit. Then I noticed yesterday that right at the point where the fruit forms (in the branch of stem and leaf), it was black (or VERY dark brown) and this morning.... both fruit stems had yellowed and as soon as I touched them, they fell off.

We've had an incredible amount of rain this spring. Averages for Indianapolis are April: 3.7" - May: 4.0" - June: 3.5". So far this year we've had April: 6.98" - May: 7.0" - June: 3.52" (with two weeks to go). We've also been a bit on the cool side most of the spring with only a few days in the high 80's.

My soil was already pretty good, but I incorporated composted cow manure, sphangnam peat moss and organic top soil into the bed at planting time covering/mulching everything with shredded leaves. I've added a 50/50 mix of organic top soil and shredded leaves as a top dressing three times (when I've fertilized with organic Tomato Tone) since the first planting at the end of April. The last time I fertilized and top dressed was probably three or maybe four weeks ago.

This fruit drop is only happening on my largest plant so far, but the others are catching up in size and branch clusters with blooms getting ready to pop all over the place. So, I'm hoping to catch any problems (or maybe something I'm doing wrong) early.

Thanks in advance for your time and sorry for the long winded post. But, I wanted to give the experts here all of the info I could.
 
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Jade

New Member
I have a question...are you still topdressing around your pepper plants? They don't like to have any soil put up around their stems, like to be at the level they were in the pot when you planted them. I know that we have had a horrendous amount of rain too and one of my plants got root rot and has been wilting every day, but is trying to recover, so I am just keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't croak. Not much you can do about the rain. I really wanted to fertilize today, but tomorrow it is supposed to start raining again, so I don't want to add any more precipitation until I see how this next batch of weather works out.
 

John W_in_Indy

New Member
When I say "top dressed," all I really did was losen the top of the soil between rows or around the plants sprinkling with a little organic fertilizer (always staying about 2-3" away from the stems and then top dressing over the fertilizer. So no.... no "mounding" really. I mean, I haven't REALLY paid that much attention to keeping everything level, but I'm fairly certain I haven't mounded anything around the stems.
 

John W_in_Indy

New Member
And a follow up.... even with all of the rain, I don't see the plants doing any "wilting" during the day, getting any yellow leaves etc. Honestly, at one point I thought I was going to have to replace all of them. They were all stunted somehow due to my impatience and early planting (second week of April) because I got VERY LITTLE plant growth during the first 30 days. Then, WHAM.... they've all sprouted up like sprinters in a 100 yard dash. Especially the orange bell plant in question which is the largest of the bunch by far.
 

Dale

Super Moderator
Staff member
John I would give it more time for the ground to dry out some. Wouldn't fertilize any more and would try to aerate the soil around the plants til the soil is drier. Good luck and keep us posted.
 

Gloria

Super Moderator
Staff member
Maybe Blueassie can help with your problem, she knows her stuff about peppers. I'll drop her a pm and direct her to your question.

My guess would be the over abundance of rain on your peppers. I have the most miserable garden ever this year and I'm sure it's because of all the rain. It's rained here in SC. everyday for weeks now and I'm not talking a little rain..I'm talking huge downpours, even hail at one point.
Sorry I couldn't be of any help. Good luck with the peppers.
 

Dale

Super Moderator
Staff member
Gloria we got 4.7 inches of that good ole' SC rain last night. My garden is not too bad with all the recent rain but I have had to really work at it.
 

John W_in_Indy

New Member
Maybe Blueassie can help with your problem, she knows her stuff about peppers. I'll drop her a pm and direct her to your question.
Thanks Gloria.... This is my first garden since I was a kid living at home over THIRTY years ago. So I'm bound to make a few mistakes (like I did with my first plantings of green beans that everyone here helped me with).

Dale said:
John I would give it more time for the ground to dry out some. Wouldn't fertilize any more and would try to aerate the soil around the plants til the soil is drier. Good luck and keep us posted.
Thanks as well Dale.... Yeah, I figured that with the organics I incorporated into the soil initially, then with what I've added (although in tiny amounts really) I should probably slow down or stop with any more fertilization for a while, so I did. Even though my fertilizer is organic as well and the plants didn't show any signs of stress from over fertilization (that I KNOW of).

As for any aeration around the plants.... how would you suggest I do that?

Once again, thanks everyone for the assists this year.
 

Dale

Super Moderator
Staff member
I would lighting hoe around the plant careful not to disturb the roots. That will help the soil to dry out. Sometimes when too wet the soil will sour and have an odor about it.
 

Crabbergirl

Super Moderator
Staff member
Hey John,
Excesive moisture ( soil that does not drain well or dry ) can cause what you describe. I actually lost all fruit flowers and leaves. Mine are just now coming back with tiny leaves. A simple moisture test is to use a bamboo skewer insert it in the ground about
4" and leave it for 5-10 minutes. If when you pull it out the bamboo is soaked you have too much moisture. Peppers actually like to dry out between waterings. Not rock hard but they do not like wet feet;)
 

John W_in_Indy

New Member
Excesive moisture ( soil that does not drain well or dry ) can cause what you describe. I actually lost all fruit flowers and leaves
That very well could be what's happening with my tomato plants as well. Same pattern.... hardly any growth the first four weeks. Extremely wet weather, very cool nights (a couple of nights even down into the mid 30's) and when it didn't rain, it was mostly cloudy. Then, we got more normal temps the last six weeks, warm days, a lot of extra rain still.... but finally some sun and BOOM.... tons of plant growth, but I've lost every single bloom so far with nary that first tomato. :(

In fact, I'm sort of getting a little worried about my Beefsteak plant. It's well past the height of the tomato cage (the plant is standing almost five feet tall) and most all of the new blooms either open now or about to open are above the top of my 4' tomato cage. I hope the plant will be strong enough to carry the weight. I may have to fashion some 7' - 8' stakes in order to secure the main stem.

As for the good news.... my beans look just fantastic. ;) All of this work and TLC to have a bumper crop of beans and onions. :eek:
 

Randy

Super Moderator
Staff member
John, I used to have trouble with my tomato cages falling over. I started using steel T-posts driven into the ground and tying the tomato cages to them. Maybe I have a picture, but I'll have to go and look.
 

Randy

Super Moderator
Staff member
Okay, I found one in my 2006 graden. We have a problem with cool nights here too and the tires I have around the tomato cages soak up heat during the day and will radiate that back as the evening cools off.
 

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John W_in_Indy

New Member
Okay, I found one in my 2006 graden. We have a problem with cool nights here too and the tires I have around the tomato cages soak up heat during the day and will radiate that back as the evening cools off.
Dang Randy.... now THAT's a garden. Mine is just an itty-bitty thing with four tomato plants, six various pepper plants some nice looking bush type Blue Lake green beans and some yellow onions.

I'll probably look into something to hold/radiate heat for next year for sure. I really shouldn't have planted so early (the third weekend of April), but we had had warm weather and we were well past what is normally our last frost date. So, I planted away hoping to "get a jump" on things.

Then we got a month of rain and cool nights. Now, it's warmer for sure.... but still have been getting too much rain. Not as much as Dale.... but too much I think. So, I'm all plants right now with nary the first tomato or pepper. My first "successful" (the first two were a bust) planting of beans are now in full bloom.... so we'll see about them setting fruit.
 

Crabbergirl

Super Moderator
Staff member
John,
Sound like the rain was the problem combine with the excessive cool nights, that in itself will cause the plants to go back to a dormant state, however when it warms up you are ahead of the game. During that dormant state is a good time to top tomatoes so when they warm back up they really take off. Since your flowers are not holding you could go ahead and top the toms out , that will cause them to be bushier and thicker to support fruits;)
 

Blueaussi

New Member
Oh, a pepper question, and I missed it. Really must get my life back in order.

Anyway, blossom drop can be caused by the cool nights or the excess water. It's a little late now, but it's never a good idea to rush peppers out early in the season before the soil has warmed, peppers really don't like having cold feet. You choice of Tomato-tone is excellent, though. It does wonderful things for peppers.

Ok, a few thoughts:

You said you mixed manure in, do you know at about what proportions? Was it composted manure? Too much nitrogen can produce the kind of growth you're seeing with your tomatoes, lots of vegetative growth but no fruit.

With that much rain, blossom end rot might be an issue with any tomatoes or peppers trying to set, and that might be why your pepper blossoms turned brown and dropped.

What are your nighttime temperatures now? Anything below 50F and the peppers may continue to drop blossoms.

When you say you put the Tomato-tone 2 to 3 inches from the plant, are you sure you're putting it within the area the roots are growing? This time of year, I'm putting Tomato-tone on my plants every two weeks, it really sets them up for heavy production.

If the weather hasn't been cooperating, and it doesn't look like yours has, sometimes a little nutritional kick can get the plants to fruit. It's a bit pricey, but there are liquid fertilizer products that contain plant growth regulators that will stimulate fruit production on peppers and tomatoes. You usually have to go to hydroponics stores to get them, but I've a friend who swears by them. He uses them all season, which I think is excessive, but they might give your plants the boot in their green leafy bottoms they need. He uses Botanicare products; Pure Blend Pro Bloom is the one he likes, I think.

Or, if your season is long enough, you can wait out the bad weather and plan on a heavy fall harvest.
 

Randy

Super Moderator
Staff member
John, I am fortunate to have room for a big garden. I enjoy the work and also sharing the abundance of the garden. My neighbors have an open invitation to come and pilfer when they want to. You want to hear a good one though, Miss Gloria set out about 200 tomato plants last year. Can you believe that?
 

John W_in_Indy

New Member
Blueaussi.... Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I've "tried" to answer your questions/thoughts in blue below....

Oh, a pepper question, and I missed it. Really must get my life back in order.

Anyway, blossom drop can be caused by the cool nights or the excess water. It's a little late now, but it's never a good idea to rush peppers out early in the season before the soil has warmed, peppers really don't like having cold feet. You choice of Tomato-tone is excellent, though. It does wonderful things for peppers.

Ok, a few thoughts:

You said you mixed manure in, do you know at about what proportions? Was it composted manure? Too much nitrogen can produce the kind of growth you're seeing with your tomatoes, lots of vegetative growth but no fruit.

It was composted cow manure. I mixed up the manure, peat and organic top soil in approximately a 1/3-1/3-1/3 blend worked it into the soil, planted and then mulched with shredded dried leaves.

With that much rain, blossom end rot might be an issue with any tomatoes or peppers trying to set, and that might be why your pepper blossoms turned brown and dropped.

What are your nighttime temperatures now? Anything below 50F and the peppers may continue to drop blossoms.

Night time temps are pretty much above 50F, closer to 60F and above most nights now.

When you say you put the Tomato-tone 2 to 3 inches from the plant, are you sure you're putting it within the area the roots are growing? This time of year, I'm putting Tomato-tone on my plants every two weeks, it really sets them up for heavy production.

Well, I'm only "roughing up" the surface and had put the tomato tone maybe 1/2" to 1" deep then top dressed around the plants with a 50/50 mixture of organic top soil and dried shredded leaves. So I'm "assuming" there were roots there but I really didn't dig down into the root system to be sure.

If the weather hasn't been cooperating, and it doesn't look like yours has, sometimes a little nutritional kick can get the plants to fruit. It's a bit pricey, but there are liquid fertilizer products that contain plant growth regulators that will stimulate fruit production on peppers and tomatoes. You usually have to go to hydroponics stores to get them, but I've a friend who swears by them. He uses them all season, which I think is excessive, but they might give your plants the boot in their green leafy bottoms they need. He uses Botanicare products; Pure Blend Pro Bloom is the one he likes, I think.

I wasn't as concerned about the early blossom drop on the peppers because I had been taught to pull those off anyway to get more yeild later. But, I guess what really concerned me was fruit had actually set and started to grow (although still very tiny) when they dropped. That, and the point where the blossom was attached to the plant turned black/dark brown. I figured that dark color might be the real indicator of what might be happening because as is obvious.... yours truly is totally clueless.... LOL

So far the advice has been to NOT fertilize for a bit (my last fertilization was almost three weeks ago now), but you think I SHOULD give them something to eat?


Or, if your season is long enough, you can wait out the bad weather and plan on a heavy fall harvest.

I think I'm doomed to this fate now already. :(
 
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Blueaussi

New Member
So far the advice has been to NOT fertilize for a bit (my last fertilization was almost three weeks ago now), but you think I SHOULD give them something to eat?
You don't want them to have anything high nitrogen, like Miracle Grow or one of it's clones, or a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Tomato-tone is an organic fertilizer, and goes slowly into the soil. Plus it now has lots of good soil bacteria and mycorrhizae to work that manure and peat into good plant nutrients. And the amount of rain you've had probably has leached some of the nutrients from the soil. So, yeah, if it was my garden, I would put out some more Tomato-tone.
 

Gloria

Super Moderator
Staff member
John, I am fortunate to have room for a big garden. I enjoy the work and also sharing the abundance of the garden. My neighbors have an open invitation to come and pilfer when they want to. You want to hear a good one though, Miss Gloria set out about 200 tomato plants last year. Can you believe that?
Actually I set out 200 tom plants this year Randy, I had 300 last year. I have lost most of them because of the rain. I haven't done any organic gardening so I'm not much help with that. I use 5-10-10 fertilizer mostly. I plant fields!! I don't have the availability of that much manure..LOL
If I did raised beds or small gardens I would need to know all this stuff and you never know what the future will bring so..I'm reading every word!:)
 


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