I'm a beginner backyard gardener and I have been growing vegetables in hydroponic containers for a few years. This is the first time I tried to grow vegetables on the soil (22 pots total) and I'm having some issues. All the hydroponic plants are healthy but the soil planted ones are displaying signs of disease/stress. I'm wondering if anyone can help me identify them and advise me on which ones to be uprooted & destroyed.

Every pot has landscaping fabric layer on top of the soil and a layer of gravel to prevent splash & overheating.

I mix 2 tablespoons of Miracle Gro Performance to 5 gallons of water and distribute evenly once a week. I water at late night (3-4 hours before the sunrise) and sometimes at noon as well depending on the weather conditions.

Here are my issues:

First plant has the edges of the leaves turn black and the leaves start curling. I'm suspecting this to be a viral/bacterial disease. It looks unhealthy and plant seems to be sulking. It's almost like someone took a torch and gently flame licked the leaves. The discoloration is also existent in the new growth. In a few days leaves turn crusty and fall. I just applied neem oil - baking soda mix yesterday night just in case if this was fungus. (1tbs per gal for both) Here are the pictures for that one:

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Second Plant has black dots (I'm suspecting of this being late blight) and blemished/burned leaves. Dots and fungi like stains appear on stems and on flowers. I'm trying to remove the dying leaves & stem growth but I can't seem to keep up with this. (I applied neem-oil / baking soda mix yesterday to this plant as well) and it appears to be a little better today after the application.

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Third plant had early blight I suspect, and I seem to have taken care of it with neem/baking soda mix. I just need verification if that's something that I need to be concerned about:

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Multiple plants are displaying "wet looking edges" and they started curling after I applied baking soda (1 tbs /gallon) & aspirin (200mg / gallon) mix yesterday night to prevent them from getting the diseases spread. They also started displaying white spots a while ago (which I'm suspecting of a bug damage) I don't know if the mixture actually baked the plants (although I checked the forecast yesterday and it was not above 83 degrees today at any given point) Here are the images:

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I would appreciate very much if some guidance is provided before I took down the entire plant that displays any sign of disease/stress as I'm starting to think it's getting out of control. I have some of those plants planted in hydroponic containers and they are disease-free (they are in a screened patio but still are outside.)

Thank you all in advance.

1 Answer 1


OK let me try to make a case for availability of water. I don't think it is disease or infection, otherwise the hydroponic individuals would also be affected, and clearly the weather has affected both equally since they are all in the same place.

Fertilizer has been carefully applied, now all the system has to do is get that nourishment to the leaves via the roots. To take an extreme example, say the soil is not completely uniformly mixed or for some other reason the root mass has not been able to thoroughly explore all the contents of the pot. With a compromised root system the availability of nutrient will be sluggish and sporadic at the leaves giving the result you see. Another reason might be that the plants are pot bound, with no further room for roots to expand.

I have seen some similar results in my Ontario yard - I have put it down to genetic variation combined with the odd cold spring followed by the current hot summer. In my case only a few plants are affected, all of them small fruiting varieties. Their flowering behaviour has been bizarre this year, with frequent overflowering followed by side shoot production. The large fruit vars are perfect so far.

  • Hi Colin Beckingham, Thank you for the reminder that fungus should be existent on all plants, but could soil be the factor? Also, if "pot bounding" is the issue here, what would be the proper way to restore health? All the plants are moved into 7 gallon fabric planters when grown, I'm measuring the root size by comparing them to the hydroponic ones (I imagine they would have to be at least twice as large as they have to work more to absorb nutrients) Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 19:34
  • I have applied copper with neem oil since the problem have started and I seem to have salvaged all the plants. It may either be coincidence or there was some sort of a disease. Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 18:03

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