Before getting too excited, keep in mind that every gardener and farmer, whether they’re a beginner or they’ve been doing it for years, faces problems.
If you’re looking to live a self-reliant lifestyle as much as possible or you simply enjoy the act of planting, there’s nothing better than growing your food.
Though gardening challenges never seem to end, the venture can be a rewarding hobby that’s enjoyable, relaxing, healthy, and of course, lovely to look at.
A garden provides a means of growing food and nothing tastes better than vegetables and fruits that are grown right in your backyard.
If you’re having troubles while growing plants, you’re not alone. Here are some common vegetable garden problems and solutions to them.
1. Pests Destroying Plants
Garden pests are at the top of the list of gardening problems when it comes to vegetables and other crops. These include tomato hornworms, cabbage worms, stink bugs, slugs, aphids, ants, grubs, and others.
Use methods that will not impact your health and that of your vegetables.
Try some organic methods of getting rid of bad insects and related pests. These include soapy water, baking soda spray, diatomaceous earth, and neem oil. You can also make use of pest-repelling plants.
Every gardener deals with weeds from time to time. Typically, they’ll notice wild grass, wild onions, or crabgrass showing up.
Fortunately, there are a few natural ways of eliminating weeds from your garden. You can use newspaper and put organic mulch on top to hold it down.
This will prevent them from showing up. If you already have weeds, try a solution of 1 cup Epsom salt dissolved in 2 cups of water. Boil this and pour directly onto them.
3. Poor Soil
One major challenge many have encountered while planting is poor soil.
If your vegetable garden is dying or crops are growing slowly, you might have major soil problems. All plants need healthy soil that is rich in nutrients and organic matter in order to thrive.
Mulch, organic compost, and vermiculture are all great ways of improving soil quality. It’s also a good idea to test the soil to see what nutrient is missing.
pH (potential hydrogen) testing is also vital.
To Test Your Soil’s pH Level:
Collect one cup soil sample taken from different parts of the garden. Ensure it is dug up from 6-8 inches below the soil surface.
Put 2 tsp. into separate containers and add ½ cup vinegar. A pH between 7 and 8 will fizz after you add the vinegar.
If it doesn’t fizz, add some distilled water to the other container with the 2 tsp. of soil. It must reach a muddy consistency.
Next, add ½ cup baking soda and stir. Fizzes mean that your soil is acidic (pH between 5 and 6).
If it doesn’t fizz, your soil is likely in the neutral range (pH of 7), which is good. If the process is too tedious, you can buy a Soil pH Testing Kit.
4. Disease Infestation
- Check your plants for diseases before you bring them home and plant them.
- Water plants in the morning to keep them healthy.
- Water the soil, not the foliage.
- Control insects.
- Allow the soil to warm up a bit before you plant.
- Space crops properly.
- Use organic fertilizers to boost plant immunity.
5. Blossom End Rot
This is a condition that occurs mostly in tomato plants and is caused by calcium deficiency. It happens mostly if your soil is too dry, where the plant is unable to take up enough water and calcium.
To fix blossom end rot, ensure your soil doesn’t dry out and use a lot of organic mulch around roots. You can also supply your plants with calcium naturally by adding crushed eggshells to the soil.
6. Plants Look Visibly Burnt
If your plants look visibly burnt or slightly parched, the leaves are probably starting to become more brittle and breakable.
This likely means they are getting too much light.
Try moving them if they’re in a container. If not, try using shade cloth throughout the garden so they’re not getting as much light.
Some shrubs and trees around the garden can also be a great long-term solution.
7. Brown Spots on Leaves
Typically, brown spots show up on leaves because of too much or too little watering, dry air, or too much sunlight.
They can also appear on leaves due to too cold temperatures, and in some cases, a potassium plant deficiency.
Try watering more frequently. If you think you might have over-fertilized when using natural methods like Epsom salt, try overwatering for a day or two.
To increase the amount of potassium in the soil, add a bit of wood ash or aged manure.
8. Tiny White Spots on Leaves
This tends to happen when you have spider mites in the garden. Spider mites can create a serious annoyance as they actively eat plants.
Try a natural solution of a gallon of lukewarm water mixed with one teaspoon of mild organic liquid soap. You can also purchase an organic pesticide to help get rid of them.
9. Plants Not Producing Fruit
Crops failing to produce fruits is another of the major garden challenges.
If you have plants that aren’t producing any fruit, you may have an issue wherein there’s not enough nitrogen. It may also be a lack of pollination.
Try adding some organic nitrogen-rich fertilizer or pollinating the blossoms. This is done with hand-pollination techniques , such as using a small brush or shaking the plant gently.
10. Not Enough Space
Another of the problems faced by farmers, land space is always an issue for enthusiastic agriculturalists. However, there’s a way to make plants grow in very little space — the container gardening method.
Many vegetables like kale and arugula grow well in containers. You can also make use of vertical gardening.
Pumpkins, for example, can be planted in a pot and channeled to grow on a fence.
11. Plants Are Weak and Lackluster
We’ve all been there before — we want our crops to grow big, strong, and beautifully.
When they seem weak and lackluster, it’s possible you have watered too much or you don’t have enough light.
Ensure that plants get 6-8 hours of sunlight during the day. You can also try watering a bit less and make sure you’re not overdoing it with nitrogen.
12. Too Much or Too Little Sun
Each plant has its own daily sunlight requirement. Tomatoes, for example, need more than 6 hours of direct sunlight to bear fruits.
Lettuce, on the other hand, will scorch in direct sunlight if left for more than 14 hours.
A good way to know which plant requires what amount of sunlight is to read the back of the seed packet.
13. Plants Appear to be Wilting
If your plants appear to be wilting, it’s more than likely they’re suffering from too little or too much water.
Wilting can often be fixed by adjusting the amount of water you’re giving crops.
Feel the soil and check if it’s soggy. If it is, stop watering for a while. If the soil feels dry, water a bit more, but make sure you’re watering deeply and consistently.
14. Leaves Covered in White Powdery Coating
When leaves are covered in a white powdery coating, the most common culprit is powdery mildew. This is a fungal disease that affects a multitude of plants.
Typically, powdery mildew results from plants being dry while the area surrounding them is moist and humid.
If possible, try moving the plants into a sunny area and make sure you’re providing adequate spacing between each.
This will promote a much healthier environment with proper air circulation. You can also use neem oil for added protection.
15. Leaves Covered in Black Spots
This is another very common one, especially in climates that tend to be hot and muggy. Black spots on leaves are usually caused by black spot fungus, also known as diplocarpon rosae .
Essentially, black spot fungus starts to develop in the spring when temperatures rise and the planting space has been wet for multiple hours at a time.
This can be treated with a natural fungicide such as Eco-1.
16. Plants Don’t Seem to be Growing
Nothing is more frustrating than starting a garden, only to find your plants aren’t growing properly, or worse, they’re not growing at all.
More often than not, this is caused by improper soil preparation. Fortunately, there’s a variety of ways to improve the preparation of your soil.
Dig up your plants, if possible, and make sure the soil is tilled properly. This will help them spread their roots.
Be sure to remove any red clay underneath and add compost to the mixture.
17. Leaves Have Yellow Blotches on Them
If you start noticing yellow blotches on the upper surface of your leaves, it’s likely plant rust.
Flip the leaf over and look for dark brown, rusty blotches. This is what identifies rust.
You can avoid it by providing proper air circulation.
If your plants end up with rust on them, try removing all infected parts and cleaning away any debris in between them. This will prevent the disease from spreading further.
Keep in mind, you’ll also want to avoid splashing water onto the leaves while you’re watering. This will spread the fungus further.
If you’re new to organic farming and want to dip your toes in, try starting small by planting in pots. Herbs and vegetables can thrive in a potted garden, as long as they have adequate sunlight and water.
Start with rewarding plants such as carrots, kale, sugar peas, snap peas, radishes, and other easy-to-grow vegetables that will help you understand the basics of gardening.
A garden can grow beautifully when cared for with proper sunlight, irrigation, and of course, time and effort. We all face troubles from time to time — it happens to the best cultivators.
If you’re committed to keeping your plants lush and healthy, stay on the lookout for the common issues encountered by growers listed above and address them as soon as you notice the signs.
It is usually possible to address them right away and prevent them from impacting your field in the long run. With that, we hope the advice and tips here will help in having most of your gardening problems answered.