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Old June 13, 2008   #1
tjg911
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Default parsley in container problem

for about 4 years i have grown parsley in 5 gallon pails with holes for drainage. the garden is too hot and they die come july so i found this to be better.

i mix 1/3 each my rich good quality garden soil, my compost and purchased dehydrated cow manure with 1/2 cup lime and 1/4 cup osmocote. i put 3 plants in each pail and they get 2/3 sun 1/3 shade each day. i fertilize with neptune's harvest once a week sometime in watering or just spraying. i have 3 plants per pail and cut it so none of the plants crowd out the others.

here's my problem and i sure wish someone can help me.

my plants go out about early may and do fine. yesterday i see the same issue as happens each year. 1 plant totally wilted, shriveled, dying, basically collasped. i used to think i watered them too much keeping the soil too damp and their roots rotted so i have been careful to not water to much this year but again i see this starting. i suspect i will lose several more will die over the next week or 2. i have new plants growing to replace my losses as i expect this die off.

i dug the dead plant and find no grubs attacking the roots at least none to the naked eye. poor roots tho almost gone. dug a lot but see nothing. some other plants show a branch or two wilting so by today perhaps 4 or 5 more are dying.

what am i doing wrong? i love parsley and eat tons of it but i fear i am about to be wiped out again. i see it grow in full sun in other gardens so much so that it takes over! i am organic by the way.

tom
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Old June 13, 2008   #2
Zana
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try a bit of garden sand in the potting mix...might help with the drainage issues...and the soggy roots. You may want to try more drainage holes...small but more.
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Old June 13, 2008   #3
jenn_sc
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I've never fertilized parsley as much as you mention and mine does just fine. In fact, I don't think I've ever fertilized it beyond whatever is in the potting mix I use. I don't know if that would make a difference though.
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Old June 13, 2008   #4
bcday
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Possibly an overdose of fertilizer. What do the instructions on the Osmocote package say? Mine says 1 scoop (the scoop is 1/4 cup) per 2'x2' area. A 5-gallon pail is less than 1'x1' so that would be just under a tablespoon of Osmocote per bucket. 1/4 cup of the Osmocote I'm using would be over four times the recommended amount for a 5-gallon bucket. The cow manure and Neptune's Harvest would add to the problem, but I would suspect that excessive Osmocote may be doing most of the damage.
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Old June 15, 2008   #5
tjg911
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thanks all.

drainage did seem to be somewhat problematic in the past so that is why i did not water them each day like you would tomatoes or eggplants, both much larger with higher water requirements.

additionally, i never considered this until just now but these pails have 5 or 6 5/8" holes drilled into the base of the pail and 5 or 6 around the pail about 3" up from the bottom. the pails are about 20-22" tall so as you can see the drainage holes are way down at the bottom. i think it would be wise to drill holes up the sides as zana suggested.

these pails were originally used for tomatoes and eggplants that would sit on a warmer base in full sun. now they worked fine for the eggplants on asphalt with the same soil mixture and fertilizers but again tomatoes and eggplants (i stopped growing tomatoes in 5 gallon pails) did fine so i assumed this setup was ok for parsley too. however, parsley is a much smaller plant even with 3 per pail so water and fertilizer requirements would be much less.

seems i read that parsley did like to be fertilized a lot as it is a heavy feeder? maybe the manure (1/3 of the soil mixture) and the osmocote (never added during the season just when making the soil mix) is too much. perhaps a spray with fish and seaweed emulsion 1 time a week is enough? it does stimulate good growth, doing that every 2 weeks gave me less parsley.

now for the surprise. while all the above maybe valid and i think it is, shouldn't that then effect all plants in all pails? yes, it should but some plants do ok. i looked in my gardening book and found what i think is the answer to 1 plant collapsing immediately while others in the same pail do not - carrot rust fly. while my carrots don't seem to be effected, the description of the death is text book perfect. they suggested covering with floating row covers and sprinkling some wood ashes at the base of the plants to prevent the fly from laying eggs. i know for a fact that root maggots on various plants die if watered with some wood ashes in the water.

next year i will just put garden soil and compost in the pail skipping the osmocote and manure, i'll drill more drainage holes this week in all 6 pails, could use frc as i have a lot of the stuff. i have a lot of new plants already up i could start 3 more pails with just soil and compost and i think the carrot rust fly may be at the end of the cycle but i can cover these. i suspect that the new pails will not have any problems.

thanks,

tom
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Old June 15, 2008   #6
tjg911
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did some research. definitely over fertilizing! when using a liquid fertilizer outside, once every 3-4 weeks.

also likes rich well drained soil, keep moist. i think the manure in my mix is making the mixture too dense. i thought the rich soil also indicated the need for a lot of fertilizer.

still think the carrot rust fly is what is causing 1 plant to just collapse and die. if it was the fertilizer/water then all should die basically at the same time not staggered over time.

tom
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Old November 7, 2008   #7
puttgirl
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I live in PA and have never had a problem with parsley in full sun. I do absolutely nothing to mine except add a little compost at the beginning of the season. Try it again next year in your garden with lots of neglect!
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