Why are my plants growing so slow?

Asked July 11, 2019, 9:48 AM EDT

Thank you for taking the time to read my message. I am a new gardener and I would like to learn more by reaching out to the Masters! I have flower and veggie plots at my home in Roseville that receive shade to partial sun. I know that shade is not ideal for veggies, but I found the sunniest plot in the yard in hopes that I could raise some of my own veggies. I started a lot of my veggies (onion, beans, squash, etc.) and flowers (calendula, cosmos, nasturtium, etc.) from seed indoors and transplanted outdoors. I also planted some shade-loving perennials (Jacob's ladder, bee balm, wild ginger, etc.) that I bought from the farmers market. However, everything seems to be growing so incredibly slow and I cannot figure out why. This is my first year living in the home and it was not cared for previously. In late winter, I mulched the plots with partially degraded leaf material from our compost and had the soil tested at the U. The results indicated that the soil barely had any natural nitrogen and had moderate potassium. The organic matter was 7.5% and the soil was described as course. The phosphorus was extremely high. I did not test for micro nutrients. To amend the soil, I added the recommended amount of N and K that was suggested for growing veggies. I used a blend of blood meal and Langbeinite to amend the soil and I am pretty confident in my calculations given the percents of N and K in each product. All the plants seem to be growing so slow (the veggies, flowers, and perennials I purchased from the market). The only plants seemingly well are the hostas which were already established in the yard. So my overarching question is: why are my plants growing so slow? Thank you so much and I look forward to receiving your response. Kindly, Hannah

Ramsey County Minnesota soil and fertility issues vegetable gardening

1 Response

It sounds like you have taken a number of steps that will pay off in the long run. In most locations it takes several years to build productive soil. Testing the soil occasionally is good practice. Nitrogen leaches readily and needs to be added annually. Phosphorus is abundant in most Twin area soils, so in most cases no more is needed. Continue to follow soil test result recommendations.

When time is short and native soil is very sandy, compact or infertile, it's possible to accelerate the process by building raised beds and filling them with specially formulated garden soil available at many landscape supply centers.

When soil conditions are suitable, sun and timely watering are keys to healthy and productive garden plants. Generally speaking, at least six hours of full sun daily are needed for good vegetable production. Because we haven't seen your garden it's difficult for us to assess the results you have gotten so far and predict what you might expect from the rest of the growing season.

Carrots, bean, beets, peas, cucumbers, squash and many other vegetables grow best when the seeds sown outdoors. Timing is important too. Cool season vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, peas, onions and carrots grow best when they are planted in spring as soon as the soil can be tilled. On the other hand, warm weather plants such as peppers, tomatoes, beans, squash and cucumbers will not thrive and may even die or fail to germinate if they are planted when soil and air temperatures are too cool.

It's apparent that you learned the basics before starting your garden. However, if you haven't seen it, this website will be a useful reference: