Vegetable Garden Problems

Friday, July 11th, 2014 by Jenny Watts
    • Finish planting the summer vegetable garden. Seeds of early corn, and beans can go directly in the soil and plants of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash, cucumbers and basil can be set out.
    • Fertilize container plants every 10 to 14 days with a liquid fertilizer. Pinch off faded blossoms and they will keep blooming all summer for you.
    • It’s time to set out Brussels sprouts for fall harvest.
    • Attract birds to your garden with a concrete bird bath. They come in many attractive styles and make good gifts.
    • Feed camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons with an acid plant food now. Remove dead flowers and mulch to keep the soil cool.

Weather-Related Garden Problems

Weather conditions greatly affect the growth and yield of vegetable crops. Wet, cool weather often leads to disease problems. Too much heat or cool nights can also be difficult.

Blossom drop sometimes happens to tomatoes, peppers, and beans. It is caused by extremes in temperature and dry conditions that result in poor pollination and cause the flowers to drop from the plant without setting fruit. Blossom drop may occur on tomatoes when night temperatures are below 55°F. The best prevention is to water the plants deeply once a week. Fruit set should improve when summer temperatures settle in.

Poorly filled ears of corn result from inadequate pollination. Hot, dry winds and dry soil conditions during pollination may result in poorly filled ears, but often the problem is improper planting. Corn is wind pollinated and must be planted in blocks of 4 or more rows to insure pollination. Be sure to water the plants when they are tasseling if the soil is dry.

Cucumbers sometimes have a bitter taste. The bitterness develops when plants are subjected to stressful growing conditions. Lack of water is often the main problem. Cucumber varieties differ in their tendency to produce bitter fruit. ‘Straight Eight’ often produces bitter fruit. ‘Sweet Slice’ and ‘Burpless Hybrid’ have fewer problems.

Blossom-end rot sometimes shows up on tomatoes and peppers, and occasionally on summer squash. A brown or black spot develops on the blossom end of the fruit. It happens when there is a lack of calcium in the developing fruit. Wide fluctuations in soil moisture levels impair calcium uptake by the root system. Excessive nitrogen fertilization may also contribute to blossom-end rot. It is usually less of a problem if you put some bonemeal in the bottom of the hole when you plant the starts in your garden.

Sunscald shows up as shiny white or yellow areas on the sides of the fruit where it is exposed to hot sun. Later, the affected tissue dries out and collapses, forming slightly sunken, wrinkled areas. Tomatoes and peppers are often affected by sunscald during periods of extreme heat. Growing tomatoes in wire cages gives the fruit good foliage protection and reduces the likelihood of sunscald.

Sometimes cabbage heads split when they are mature, before you get around to harvesting them. The splitting results from a build-up of water pressure. It can be prevented by pulling the mature head upward and gently twisting it to break some of the roots, thereby reducing water uptake.

Tomatoes sometimes develop cracks in the skin. There are two different forms of cracking: one is primarily cosmetic and the other is a result of weather and growing conditions. Cracking that looks like concentric circles on the top of the fruit is a genetic characteristic and can’t really be prevented. It is common in some varieties and the fruit will taste fine.

Sometimes the tomato splits from top to bottom. This is caused by heavy rainfall or irrigation following a long, dry period. Rapid growth brought on by the excess moisture results in cracking. These tomatoes can be eaten or used for cooking as long as you harvest them before bacteria and fungi contaminate the split.

Keep an eye on your garden and prevent problems before they occur.