Garden soil turning orange killing everything even worst weeds

Asked July 12, 2017, 1:41 PM EDT

Garden surface is turning orange, always had great garden but nothing has come up this year, replanted 3x. Not even weeds or wire grass which was always a huge problem. Online said Iron but from where? It is just where I water but in a small community and no one else has dying or dead plants or spots, we all use the same water. House is on a cement slab, raised garden about 20x5'. Only dying in the garden and near wood on long end, now extending into grass but that may be seasonal weeds too. Tomatoes are dying, picture was 3-4 weeks ago, water used inside on house plants have no damage. I did get a new hose this year and plants I do not water outside are just fine. Any idea?

Talbot County Maryland

4 Responses

We shared your photos with the University of Maryland soil specialist. What type of garden soil or soil amendments have you applied in this area? Had you used any peat moss or perlite? He thinks it might be fungus or algae. Was the area very wet? Was anything spilled in that area?

One thing we would recommend would be to have your soil tested. That will give you an indication of the soil pH, nutrient content, and organic matter. Some labs (such as the University of Delaware) also test for lead. The following web page has information on how to submit a soil sample:

Here is a list of regional soil testing labs we recommend.


No additives of any kind were used, compost was tilled in 2016 but not this year. No Perlite or any fertilizers. Soil was bagged top soil from Lowe's. Never any problems for 11 years, had already had some tomatoes in late May, dying now. Can barely see squash in original pic #3, only two leaves sprouted, never grew larger in two months until all died. No, it's very dry out there, water 2x a week mainly. I considered fungus until I saw this picture, although mine is not as much as that, just same color. Community uses well water which is tested every year but not for iron. But again, no neighbors have this issue. Haven't read garden hoses causing this! I will get the soil tested, will take awhile. Outside the box is trimmed but also leakage. Tomatoes now July 13 and May 24 when healthy. THANK YOU very much.

You're welcome. When you have the soil tested, be sure to choose a lab that tests for iron (Fe) content. The University of Delaware or UMass labs both would be good labs to use; they both test for iron content.


Thank you, hope that will provide some answers at least for winter planting.