Checking My Amateur Diagnosis Of Soft, Brown Spots On Peppers


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Good Day All!
I am a total amateur in gardening. My complete experience has been only a few years of the "plant it & see what happens" method.
This year, since time allows, I decided that gardening is very fun and I'd like to learn more.

The puzzlement of the day is about some pepper plants where the fruit has brown areas. The brown is very soft and the green is firm to the touch. The brown spots arrived yesterday. (Photo attached)

I apologize, but I don't know what kind of peppers they are. Each year, I plant from seeds I took from garden vegetables the previous year. For these peppers, I forgot to label the seeds. They probably are either Cubanelle or Anaheim.

The peppers live in 2 foot by 2 foot by 1 foot wooden boxes which are on legs. The dirt is from my dirt pile, to which I add leaves & things during the year. I have added sand over the years to make it less clay like.

There is another pepper plant in the box, but it has no fruit yet.
In a matching box, I have cherry tomatoes and a pepper. The tomato has small fruits, but no brown. The pepper has not had fruit yet.

The weather has been either cold & raining (many days straight for weeks) or hot (in the 80-f to 90-F range.)
So the peppers get water, then heat. If I notice the leaves are wilted in the early morning, I'll water them.

But, watering or rain is temporary at best. If they get a lot of water, within a couple of hours, the dirt is dry as deep as my finger can poke in.
Some photos of the dirt are attached.
The first photo is what it looks like after the rain dries. Looks like a driveway!
The second is what it looks like after a fingernail scratch.
Hopefully my photos are good enough so you can see that the top layer is like concrete. About 1/10th of an inch below, the dirt is nice and crumbly.

Fertilizing has been with Nature's Care Organic Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Plant Food. It has 7-6-9 NPK & "Added Calcium". But how much calcium is not known.
I fertilized in Mid May and last week. This is the first year I've ever used fertilizer, so I have nothing to compare to.

MY DIAGNOSIS-
From all I could read, it is Blossom End Rot caused by the goofy watering-drying cycle. I understand that even if calcium is present in the soil, the plant can't get it to the fruit because of the odd watering. But, I read this on the internet, so I thought it best to ask here before I do anything drastic.

MY TREATMENT GUESS-
I think I should add organic mulch on top of the soil to keep it wet longer. But, I'm nervous about rotting the roots.
I also don't know if I should add calcium. I can easily put in antacids, like Tums. I also have some frozen, crushed egg shells that my wife saved for the garden.

Did I figure out the problem & solution correctly, or am I way off in the diagnosis?

Thank YouVery Much for the education! It is much appreciated.
Enjoy This Day!
Paul
 

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Good Day All!
I am a total amateur in gardening. My complete experience has been only a few years of the "plant it & see what happens" method.
This year, since time allows, I decided that gardening is very fun and I'd like to learn more.

The puzzlement of the day is about some pepper plants where the fruit has brown areas. The brown is very soft and the green is firm to the touch. The brown spots arrived yesterday. (Photo attached)

I apologize, but I don't know what kind of peppers they are. Each year, I plant from seeds I took from garden vegetables the previous year. For these peppers, I forgot to label the seeds. They probably are either Cubanelle or Anaheim.

The peppers live in 2 foot by 2 foot by 1 foot wooden boxes which are on legs. The dirt is from my dirt pile, to which I add leaves & things during the year. I have added sand over the years to make it less clay like.

There is another pepper plant in the box, but it has no fruit yet.
In a matching box, I have cherry tomatoes and a pepper. The tomato has small fruits, but no brown. The pepper has not had fruit yet.

The weather has been either cold & raining (many days straight for weeks) or hot (in the 80-f to 90-F range.)
So the peppers get water, then heat. If I notice the leaves are wilted in the early morning, I'll water them.

But, watering or rain is temporary at best. If they get a lot of water, within a couple of hours, the dirt is dry as deep as my finger can poke in.
Some photos of the dirt are attached.
The first photo is what it looks like after the rain dries. Looks like a driveway!
The second is what it looks like after a fingernail scratch.
Hopefully my photos are good enough so you can see that the top layer is like concrete. About 1/10th of an inch below, the dirt is nice and crumbly.

Fertilizing has been with Nature's Care Organic Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Plant Food. It has 7-6-9 NPK & "Added Calcium". But how much calcium is not known.
I fertilized in Mid May and last week. This is the first year I've ever used fertilizer, so I have nothing to compare to.

MY DIAGNOSIS-
From all I could read, it is Blossom End Rot caused by the goofy watering-drying cycle. I understand that even if calcium is present in the soil, the plant can't get it to the fruit because of the odd watering. But, I read this on the internet, so I thought it best to ask here before I do anything drastic.

MY TREATMENT GUESS-
I think I should add organic mulch on top of the soil to keep it wet longer. But, I'm nervous about rotting the roots.
I also don't know if I should add calcium. I can easily put in antacids, like Tums. I also have some frozen, crushed egg shells that my wife saved for the garden.

Did I figure out the problem & solution correctly, or am I way off in the diagnosis?

Thank YouVery Much for the education! It is much appreciated.
Enjoy This Day!
Paul
I do not think it is blossom end rot but it is caused by an earlier improper watering. At some point in time during the earlier stages of development, the young peppers were given way too much water. This often happens during periods of incessant rains. I could be wrong but in the picture there is no evidence on the plant itself of improper watering. No browning leaves or leaf margins, no blackening stems, and the young peppers look normal. It appears that only the older peppers are affected. I believe this damage happened while the peppers were still small and only during the past two or three weeks has the damage become apparent. As far as the soil goes adding compost or organic matter is a great idea and should be done before planting, although adding it at any time is fine. What I would do now to alleviate the drying soil is to add a good layer of mulch. Never ever add sand to clay soil as clay+sand=brick. That is what is happening to your soil surface now. You should fertilize every two weeks while the plant is in production.

Here in Texas blossom end rot is rampant, mainly because of the high Ph of the soil which makes our abundant calcium unavailable to the plant. We get BER on melons, peppers, tomatoes, even squash. Our remedy is to apply about 1/2 cup of epsom salts around the base of the plant or in the planting hole while planting. It works every time in my soil but I have no idea if it will work in yours.
 
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Thank You Chuck for your very helpful and easy to understand reply. You're a great teacher!

You mentioned adding compost or organic material to the soil. Yesterday I searched around for compost. Locally, I found two choices.

One choice is free from the city, but I used it once in the front planter and everything it touched died quickly.
I used it sparingly, so the only thing I could think of is that it has weed killer remaining. People here are crazy about having commercial services put weed killers on their lawns. (And people wonder why the bees, birds and squirrels are dying) My thought is that some of the evil chemical remains active after composting. A neighbor had the same experience, so she uses it on purpose for areas where she wants nothing to grow, like along the driveway.

Choice Two for compost is a commercial product from Lowe's called Glacial Bay Composted Manure. (Actually, some other stores sell something form EarthGrow called Humus and Manure, but the bag says not to use it on food crops.)

Do you think the Glacial Bay product would be good to mix into the soil, or should I get vermiculite instead? Over the last few years, I've been trying to turn my dirt pile into compost, but it isn't "cooked" yet!

Thanks Again for helping!
Paul
 
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Thank You Chuck for your very helpful and easy to understand reply. You're a great teacher!

You mentioned adding compost or organic material to the soil. Yesterday I searched around for compost. Locally, I found two choices.

One choice is free from the city, but I used it once in the front planter and everything it touched died quickly.
I used it sparingly, so the only thing I could think of is that it has weed killer remaining. People here are crazy about having commercial services put weed killers on their lawns. (And people wonder why the bees, birds and squirrels are dying) My thought is that some of the evil chemical remains active after composting. A neighbor had the same experience, so she uses it on purpose for areas where she wants nothing to grow, like along the driveway.

Choice Two for compost is a commercial product from Lowe's called Glacial Bay Composted Manure. (Actually, some other stores sell something form EarthGrow called Humus and Manure, but the bag says not to use it on food crops.)

Do you think the Glacial Bay product would be good to mix into the soil, or should I get vermiculite instead? Over the last few years, I've been trying to turn my dirt pile into compost, but it isn't "cooked" yet!

Thanks Again for helping!
Paul
Too bad about the free mulch but if under any doubt don't use it. The EarthGrow product is not OMRI listed is why on the package it says not to use it with Organic Gardening. It will be OK to use. I read the reviews and labels and I would choose the EarthGrow product although both are acceptable. You can use vermiculite but in reality, it does nothing for the makeup of the soil. Aren't there any nurseries in Detroit? These are the places to get good gardening products, not Lowes and Home Depot.
 
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I just thunk of this..
Maybe I'm way over-thinking how to get the dirt more loose & moisture friendly and hospitable to the peppers, but here goes:
I save planer shavings from spruce-pine-fur building wood, like 2 by 4's that I plane down. (No treated wood)
I use it in winter instead of putting chemicals or salt on the ground for ice. (Why pollute more than necessary/?)

Would those be good to mix into the soil, or would they eat up all the nitrogen while de-composing?
 
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I just thunk of this..
Maybe I'm way over-thinking how to get the dirt more loose & moisture friendly and hospitable to the peppers, but here goes:
I save planer shavings from spruce-pine-fur building wood, like 2 by 4's that I plane down. (No treated wood)
I use it in winter instead of putting chemicals or salt on the ground for ice. (Why pollute more than necessary/?)

Would those be good to mix into the soil, or would they eat up all the nitrogen while de-composing?
They will be great to add to your compost pile and OK to add to your garden soil. What really affects nitrogen is green matter, not dead matter.
 
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Thank You Again Chuck!
It was interesting to read and learn more about your Texas soil and how the high pH prevents calcium uptake by the plants.

You asked about nurseries to find compost. I was remiss in mentioning ther results of my inquiries. There are 3 in the area. Each one explained it to me the same way: Apparently there is one commercial composter in the metro area who charges the landscape, lawn service & tree companies to dump their waste. They compost it. The landscape houses and cities buy from them. So, there is a good chance of glycophosate and other herbicides in the mix. How much is in there is not known, but I really don't want any.

One supplier told me to buy now for next season & the ingredients become inactive. But, my wife and my dog eat these vegetables (me, too) and the insects eat here, as do the birds, so I am going to skip their compost just to be safe. It's time to concentrate more on my dirt pile composting for next year.

Back To The Project-
I mixed in some planer shavings in the top 6 or so inches of soil. Close to the plants, I only went an inch or so down so I didn't disturb the roots or the hair like roots that criss cross the top of the dirt. I added some fertilizer & mixed it in.

The difference wth the shavings was remarkable when I test watered.

Instead of laying on top for a while as it usually does, the water went right into the soil. Nothing dripped out from below the planters, so it is apparently now primarily staying in the dirt.

Usually within an hour of watering or rain, the soil used to be dry as far in as I could reach with a finger and the top had a smooth, concrete like surface. This happened even on a cool day.
Today is hot (by Detroit standards, not Texas standards. We complain when it is sooo hot at 85-F), breezy and sunny. Amazingly 4 hours later, the soil in the boxes is still moist. There is no smooth, concrete surface- just a nice soil & shavings mix happily coexisting.

I tried a small area using the shavings for the mulch layer on top, but the breeze is blowing the shavings away. They are pretty small and light. So I picked up some mulch that has no dyes or colorants added. I laid on a 2" covering.

I don't want to water it yet, since I just watered, so it will be interesting to see how that helps retain moisture. Some that Ilaid on the grass & sprayed soaked up the water quite well.

Hopefully, the little hair like roots will stay in the dirt now. They've been climbing out and laying across the top of the soil at the base of the plants. I'll bet they were looking for water or trying to escape the water.

My plants told me to Thank You Again Chuck! I really appreciate the education you supplied!
Enjoy this Day!
Paul
 
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Update-
Yesterday was very hot and sunny all day. On such a day, the dirt in the planter boxes used to be hot to the touch. The dirt stayed cool and, surprisingly, still very slightly damp all day. Brushing the mulch aside showed no crusting on top either.

This morning, the leaves are not curled under, as they usually are in the morning after a hot day.
There are 2 new peppers and neither has the brown spots.

This fall, I plan to carry this farther and mix in fallen leaves to all of our planting areas, probably shredded. We get an amazing amount of maple leaves. Free food for the earth.

Thanks Again for helping & explaining. I really appreciate your advice, as do the plants.

Paul
 

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