One that is lawn clipping compost with a pH 6.0 where everything grows pretty well. The other garden is 40cm deep of supposedly Rich Organic Garden Soil but has a pH of 7.0. The only things that grow well in this one is Shallots, Parsnip and Carrot. What is not growing well are Tomatoes, Bell Pepper, Chili and Coriander.

Here is an image of what my Chili looks like:


What's wrong with my soil? Here is a photo of what it looks like:


I think it looks pretty rich. Could it be the pH is too high? How could I lower it if it's the case?


Here is what the Parsnip looks like:






Chili Chili

Bell Pepper:

Bell Pepper Bell Pepper

16/09/2014 EDIT:

I tested the soil and it gave me some very interesting results:

N: Depleted

P: Adequate

K: Surplus

Looks like the main issue would be the lack of Nitrogen in my soil. Second issue could be a drainage problem.

  • won't be the ph, peppers and tomatoes are fine with a ph between 6 and 7, optimally at 6.5. Is this rich organic stuff something you bought?
    – Bamboo
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 11:27
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    Be useful to see a picture of one of the tomato plants and its fruits
    – Bamboo
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 11:42
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    There is a lot more to soil than pH. Buy a soil test kit and check for NPK content. Organic content doesn't necessarily mean that any of the other nutrients are there and doesn't exclude having too much potassium buildup. Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 16:54
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    @Pat when the root crops do well, and the coriander/top vegetables don't, it makes me think you have a nitrogen deficiency. I'd test the soil.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 23:14
  • 1
    @Pat Thanks for the update. Then I was right, and this was a nitrogen deficiency.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Sep 16, 2014 at 3:08

1 Answer 1


It looks like you may be experiencing problems from a nitrogen deficiency. I'm guessing that, because the soil isn't entirely decomposed, so the undecomposed organic matter will still be pulling nitrogen from the soil. I've noticed that soil you buy at nurseries isn't necessarily the most nutrient rich, although it is usually dark, with plenty of organic matter.

I'd get the soil tested. You can buy a kit and do it yourself, but I prefer to pay a lab. They usually are more accurate and can give you exact amounts of many minerals, nutrients, and other important aspects of soil structure.

The soil in your picture looks clumpy and a little heavy, and you mentioned water puddling after rain. All plants have their own reactions to poorly drained soil, and it's mostly not good. But then, there are the parsnips, which did well, and hate wet feet. But they would, along with the carrots and shallots, enjoy low nitrogen soil, so that comes up again.

Again, the best way to go is to get your soil tested, and troubleshoot from there.

  • I bought the soil more than 14 months ago. Is it possible that it is still far from being decomposed?
    – Pat
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 0:28
  • @Pat Entirely possible. Get your soil tested, and the results will determine how you should move forward.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 23:58

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