Tuesday, May 2, 2017 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Common Vegetable Garden Problems

Vegetable Garden Problems
Brian Jervis: Ask A Master Gardener
Tuesday, May 2nd
Q: Last year, my cabbage plants had a problem. They were yellowish and didn’t grow well. What could I be doing wrong? S.C., Tulsa
A: There are a number of problems vegetable growers may face during the growing season. Your stunted and yellow plants may result from a host of things, some of which involve the lack of fertility or unfavorable soil acidity (pH). A soil test will sort this out.
Other causes are compacted poorly draining soil and poor quality of seeds or transplants, along with various insects and diseases. In addition, planting too early in the season when soils are still cold may cause a problem as you describe.
Disease and insect damage is often easy to identify. Insects frequently leave evidence of holes or nibbled areas and may cause yellowing of leaves. Some of these pests are small and difficult to see without a hand lens. Diseases of plants are often associated with brown spots, powdery deposits or rusted areas.
If soil compaction is a problem due to clay soil or planting in a high-traffic area, tilling in composted organic material will help, but the best option for this problem is to plant into a raised bed with good soil.
Other common problems in the vegetable garden involve roots. Inspect them, and if small and poorly developed, the problem may be due to overly wet soil or root damage due to fungal disease or nematodes.
If you experience “blossom drop,” where blossoms form but do not produce fruit and drop from the plant, the cause is usually environmental. The temperatures are either too hot or the nighttime temperatures too cold or the soil is too wet or too dry. Excessive nitrogen fertilizer can also produce blossom drop. The plant can overcome this as conditions improve.
When sun-loving plants are planted in shade or part shade, they often become tall, spindly and unproductive. They grow tall looking for sunlight. Over-fertilization may also cause this problem.

There are some steps you can take to cope with these problems. First is to do a soil test every two to three years and apply only the types of nutrients needed and never develop the mind-set that “more is better.” Another step is to plant your vegetables with attention as to their need for sunlight.
Next is to inspect your garden as often as possible to identify problems, such as insects and disease, which may be dealt with early. Always remove weeds and use mulch to prevent new weed growth, conserve water, moderate temperature and help prevent disease spread.
Something else one can do to improve success is to not walk in or till the garden when soils are wet such as they are now. Tilling wet soil destroys the structure for years to come.
Garden tips
Prune and feed all spring-blooming shrubs, such as azaleas and forsythia, immediately after blooming, if needed. Azaleas need less fertilizer than many shrubs and often a yearly addition of mulch, as it decays, it will add all the nutrients they need.
Cool-season lawns — tall fescue and bluegrass — can be fertilized again. If you did not fertilize in March and April, do so now. Do not fertilize these grasses in summer.
Seeding and sodding of warm-season grasses such as bermudagrass, Buffalograss and zoysiagrass, is best performed in mid-May through the end of June. The soil temperatures are warm enough for germination and growth. These grasses need a long summer growing season to promote winter hardiness.


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