Vegetable Garden Problems and Solutions – Troubleshooting your Garden

Not everything about vegetable gardening turns out as expected. There are many vegetable garden problems that can plague the average gardener. Fortunately, there are also easy solutions to those problems. Troubleshoot your garden with these easy tips to get a bumper harvest this year!

You have spent the first part of spring getting vegetable garden seeds into the ground.  You think you gave your garden just the right amount of water and added compost and still your vegetable garden is not producing as you want it to.  You are not alone! Many vegetable gardens have similar problems when it comes to producing.  Often the cause is the weather, the water or wishful thinking on your part.

Troubleshoot your garden with these tips. #vegetablegarden, #gardeningtips

One of my favorite things to do is to go out into my vegetable garden first thing in the morning to see what surprises await me.  (Last year I grew my whole vegetable garden on a deck!)

Usually, I come back in with a basket of goodies for the evening meal.   But there are some days when there is not a vegetable in sight. This got me thinking about vegetable garden problems that many people may have. Why do some gardens produce very well and others have a hard time getting a crop for you?  

Vegetable Garden Problems and Solutions

If vegetable gardening is a problem for you, rather than a pleasure, you may find these tips helpful

Troubleshoot your vegetable garden for solutions to common gardening problems. I ♥ growing vegetables! Click To Tweet

Seeds that do not Germinate

One of the biggest vegetable garden problems has to do with the seeds, themselves. Nothing is worse than planting a bunch of seeds and finding that none of them germinate, or that the germination rate is very low. Why does this happen? There can be many reason that this happens (and don’t worry – you are not alone!)

  • You haven’t given them time.  This one is easy, just wait a while. Some seeds take several weeks to start growing. Check your packages to see how long it normally takes for germination. You may be surprised!.
  • The soil is too cold.  Don’t be in such a hurry to get the seeds in the ground that you plant too early.  The soil needs to be warm for most seeds to germinate. Some seeds can be started indoors or in cold flats.
  • The seeds have dried out in the ground.  Watering is essential in the early days of planting. Be sure the ground is kept evenly moistSeed germination problems have many reasons.
  • The soil it too wet.  In the same way that dried out ground can have an impact on germination, so can soil that is too wet. This will rot the seeds.  The solution is to replant and make sure not to give them too much water.
  • Your seeds are too old. Most seeds will keep well, particularly if kept in the fridge but every dog has its day. If your seeds are really old, you may just need to purchase new ones!
  • You soil is really lacking in nutrients. If you plant in heavy clay soil, you’ll have germination problems, for sure!  Keeping a compost pile going and adding compost to your soil can really improve germination rates for your seeds.

Plants that Tastes Bitter

Many plants will bolt and go to seed. This is normally caused when the temperatures are hotter than is ideal for the particular plant.  It is the plant’s survival mechanism. The plant knows that death is the end is near and it is producing seeds for the next generation.

Once a plant has bolted, it generally will taste bitter. Lettuce, spinach and broccoli are plants that bolt easily.One of the biggest vegetable garden problems in hot weather is Lettuce that has bolted making it taste bitter

You can avoid this happening by making sure that you get the plants in the ground earlier in the spring.  Generally, plants that bolt easily in early summer are cool loving plants.  Planting them in a shadier spot will give them a bit more growing time, as well.

The best thing to do with bolted plants is to remove them, and replant the area with some that are more heat loving. Then, later in the season, as fall approaches, you can plant another crop of the cold weather lovers.

Spindly seedlings with long stems and few leaves

Many beginning gardeners experience this problem. Vegetable plants need plenty of sunlight to grow properly. 6-8 hours a day is idea for most of them.Spindly seedlings need more light

Other causes of spindly plants is soil that is too wet, and overcrowding of plants, so that they don’t have room to grow properly.  Over-fertilizing of seedlings is also a problem of plants that don’t grow correctly.  Wait until they are a bit more mature to add fertilizer.

More Vegetable Garden Problems.

Yellow Leaves

This is perhaps one of the most asked about vegetable garden problems, particularly for those who grow tomatoes.  if the lower leaves are the ones that are yellow, this is not too much of a problem.  This is fairly common and the plant will still produce.

Yellow leaves may mean a potassium deficienty

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

But if the leaves are all turning yellow, something is amiss. It could be a problem with your soil.  Many localities will test your soil for free.  Take advantage of this and if you find that the soil is missing nutrients, you’ll know what to add in the way of fertilizer. A common cause of yellow leaves is a lack of potassium.

Another cause of yellow leaves on plants is not enough light.  Move or plant new plants in a sunnier spot, if this is the case.

Tomatoes won’t produce Fruit

The sunlight seems right, your soil is fine, the tomato plants had flowers just fine, but you don’t get any tomatoes, or get very few.  It’s most likely the weather that is to blame. If you live in the area of the country where the nights are colder than 55 degrees (or warmer than 70 degrees) tomatoes won’t produce very well. 

Too much humidity can cause a low yield of tomatoes since it affects pollen production, and scorching hot days for weeks on end can just be more than the tomatoes can take. I get the most out of my tomato plants here in NC by making sure that I get them in as soon as I can in the spring and then growing a fall crop as well.Tomato plants but no fruit

Another cause of tomatoes that don’t produce is too much nitrogen in your fertilizer.  This will make the plant foliage get over active and grow to the exclusion of fruit.

Choose fertilizer that are light on nitrogen and choose tomato plants that are fast maturing varieties so they will form fruit before it gets too hot.

Trouble shooting your Garden

Blossom end rot

Tomatoes and peppers often have this problem  The cause is a calcium deficiency. Blossom end rot occurs when the moisture in the soil is irregular or when there is too much fertilizer containing nitrogen has been over applied. If you have periods of hot dry spells and then heavy rains this can cause blossom end rot to occur. Blossom end rot is caused by irregular soil moisture

Be careful about fertilizing and apply mulch.  Mulch will keep the moisture in the ground more even.

Cracked Tomato Skins

You have been watching your tomatoes develop and can’t wait to bite into a juicy beefsteak tomato.  And then it happens!  The skins crack and then split.  The cause, once again, is irregularity in the soil moisture.  The plant drinks the extra moisture but can’t hold it and this causes the skins to crack. The solutions are similar to helping prevent blossom end rot.  Cracked tomato skins are a cause of irregular water supply to the soil

Be careful to keep your moisture levels consistent and mulch to control this. Also choose varieties that are known to be crack-resistant such as Jet Star. Also, harvesting very large tomatoes before they are completely ripe and let them ripen on the counter indoors can help prevent cracked skins..

Misshaped and Twisted Carrots

Carrots are very susceptible to over crowding. If you don’t thin them out as seedlings, when they grow, the roots will grow around each other, resulting in twisted carrots when they are mature. 

Another cause of weirdly shaped carrots is soil that has a lot of clay, rocks or tree rootsthat are getting in the way of them growing properly.  Going heavy on the fertilizer can also make carrots get multiple roots.

Misshapen carrots are caused by obstructions in the soil or lack of thinning.

The solution is to thin your seedlings, go light on fertilizing and making sure that the soil you plant your seeds in is free of obstructions.

The plants grow, but don’t grow WELL

All vegetable gardeners need to know their hardiness zone.  Many vegetable gardening problems stem from not understanding your local area, or not planting correctly for you. If you live in North Carolina, like I do, and decide to grow Brussels sprouts and lettuce in the summer months, you won’t be a happy gardener. These plants do well here in the spring and then again in the fall.Sick vegetable garden

Know your planting zone and plant accordingly.

Local Critters

One of my big vegetable garden problems has been the local critters.  We’ve all been there.  We go into the garden and find a dozen tomatoes on the ground, all red with ONE bite out of them. The cause is most likely squirrels. Other animals that love your garden as much as you do are rabbits and deer.  

If you have a lot of local animals that love to visit, you will need to fence your garden well.  I once had a crop of green beans in a row about 15 feet long. One day there were there and the next day they were one inch stems. Rabbits and deer can decimate a garden very quickly. Vegetable garden with fence to keep out critters

To fence properly, you’ll need at least a four foot fence to keep out rabbits and much much higher to keep out the deer. (or even a double fence which is almost impossible for deer to cross.)

Even though today”s excursion gave me not a single vegetable, I am hopeful about tomorrow.  There are plenty of veggies to come soon, of course, since I am careful to follow my tips shared above. 

After all, I am still waiting for this 10 foot wide watermelon patch to convince me that it WILL produce for me.  Yesterday it looked as though one of the flowers might actually be trying to be a melon! Then my only problem will be figuring out when to harvest watermelons. I’m not good at the clunking the end test!

no vegetables

What vegetable garden problems have you experienced?  Do you find something to harvest every day, or does your garden need troubleshooting?  Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  10 comments for “Vegetable Garden Problems and Solutions – Troubleshooting your Garden

    06/09/2018 at 4:04 pm

    My crookneck squash have blooms and even some small squash but now the blooms are wilting and dying. what should I do.

    • Carol
      06/09/2018 at 6:12 pm

      Hi Rachel. It is hard to say for sure. It would be a few things. Wilting sometimes just means that the plant needs more water. Another cause is squash wilt. When this is the problem the leaves will wilt from the top down. It can be caused by cucumber beetles feeding on the plant. Carol

  2. Marie Fearfield
    04/05/2019 at 3:29 pm

    I am container gardening. The plants grow tall , but not much fruit. I had a container for radishes, the green top grows really big but produces no fruit. I am in NJ and I don’t seem to be able to find soil testing available.

    • Carol
      04/06/2019 at 9:24 am

      It could be a lack of fertilizer, perhaps?

  3. nooha
    04/27/2019 at 6:04 am

    in my capsicum plant flower falls everytime why is this any solutions

    • Carol
      04/27/2019 at 9:10 pm

      Hi Nooha. Buds dropping off a pepper plant can be due to poor pollination from insects such as bees and butterflies. To help fix the problem, plant some brightly colored flowers near by to attract pollinators.

  4. Wanda R Rogers
    06/23/2019 at 2:25 pm

    I have a lot of little nats are they harmful to my plants? I planted marigolds in my garden for pollinators but something is eating them, do you know what eats marigolds?

    • Carol
      06/25/2019 at 11:12 am

      Hi Wanda, Normally gnats in the garden happen because of excess moisture. To combat this, don’t allow mulch to get too wet. Rake it over to make the soil drain better and avoid overwatering. Marigolds are normally quite pest free but can still be eaten by aphids, earwigs, caterpillars and spider mites as well as a few other insects.

  5. Lynne
    02/08/2020 at 5:07 am

    Our vege garden has produced well for the last four year
    Planted beetroot/corn/potatoes/tomatoes/cucumber
    These veg are spindly just are not growing like they used to.
    Have fertilised and done all the same as before but the veg look poorly

    • Carol Speake
      02/09/2020 at 11:11 am

      Crop rotation is important with vegetables. If you plant the same plants in exactly the same spot year after year, this can hurt the crop. Adding organic matter to the soil in the form of compost is also beneficial.

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