Summer Veggie Garden Struggles (& How to Deal with Them)
From looking lush and vibrant to becoming peppered with pests, our edible gardens can go awry pretty quickly at this time of year. Pests and diseases are in full force right now, so we need to be at the top of our game to keep our gardens healthy, strong and producing nicely for the next few months to come.
Preventing a Problem: Keeping Your Eyes Peeled
As they say, prevention is always better than the cure and that is true with gardening as well. While you’re giving your plants a drink or gathering fresh food for dinner, take a few moments to inspect your plants closely. Do you see any signs of aphids? A few too many holes in the leaves? Something weird on the underside of foliage? Staying on top of issues will prevent them from becoming major problems.
When presented with something you’re not familiar with, do a bit of research to identify the issue first. Sometimes the problem will solve itself, sometimes there is a simple solution, and sometimes you’ll have a bit of work to do. Whatever the case may be, properly diagnose the issue before you treat it. When in doubt, you’re welcome to call us, bring in a picture on your phone to show us, or bring in a sample (in a sealed container please!) so that we can help you to identify what’s happening.
Common Summer Veggie Garden Struggles
The following are some of the most common garden struggles folks may be faced with:
Set small goals to start, break often for a game, a snack or a different activity, and be sure to admire the work they’ve done as you go. A great thing about gardening is that you can see the results of your efforts over both the short and long terms. Help children to see this and they’ll appreciate the work they’ve done! Kid-sized and colourful tools will make tasks more enjoyable for little ones too.
Tomato Blight: Early blight typically hits around July 15th and, usually, isn’t a huge concern. To be on the safe side though, never water the foliage of your tomato plants. Around August 15th is when the problematic late blight usually hits. At that time, it’s really essential to keep the foliage dry and possibly apply copper spray as a mist every ten days or so to keep your tomatoes blight-free.
Blossom End Rot: If your tomatoes have a calcium deficiency, another common struggle for them at this time of year could be blossom end rot. The simplest solution is to apply lime as soon as you can – just a small handful around each plant will do!
Potato Leaf Roll Virus: If your tomato leaves are curled badly, the culprit is probably the potato leaf roll virus. It leaves foliage looking unattractive and can also affect the health of the plant. To combat this problem, simply take better care in feeding and watering your plants.
Cabbage Butterfly Moths: Those cute, little white butterflies you see flitting around your brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, etc.) are actually a perfect example of ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’. While they may seem pretty and harmless, they’re actually the dreaded cabbage butterfly moths. For organic control, use Safer’s BTK once a week to stop them from chewing the leaves to pieces.
Leaf Miners: Spinach, beets, Swiss chard (and others) are often attacked by leaf miners that leave behind squiggly trails and brown patches full of eggs on their leaves. Hand-picking the affected leaves as they appear—and putting them straight in the garbage—is a great way to keep ahead of them. Another great way to keep them away is to laying Remay cloth (row cover) over the foliage, which will let light in while keeping the adult insects out, so that you can have healthy clean leaves to enjoy!
Stunted or Yellowing Crops: Are your root crops small and not filling out? Try feeding with slow-release 10-15-19 fertilizer with micro-nutrients, organic fish fertilizer 0-10-10, or Orgunique Tomato and Vegetable 3-1-4 to size them up. This works for potatoes too! Veggies that are starting to yellow or look ‘tired’ would also benefit from the same application. When folks come in and ask why their vegetables aren’t doing well at this time of year, our first question is “when was the last time you fed them?” Feed them, and you should start to see them perk up in just a few days.
Mildew: Mildew can run rampant on cucumbers, squash and pumpkins this time of year especially since we’ve had a fair bit of rain this summer. Another main cause, though, could be because some folks are also watering the leaves in the evening (again, keep water off the foliage, and water early in the day). Squash and pumpkins are desert plants and need to be dry—only water them if they are severely wilted but, again, be sure to keep the foliage dry. This will also prevent small zucchinis from dropping off. Cucumbers need water down deep to keep them sweet and not bitter, but water them in the morning.
Aphids: Aphid populations can crop up in a hurry, so watch out for these small green/grey, brown or black sap-sucking critters. At first sight, use a strong spray of water to wash adults off. If that isn’t successful, Safer’s ‘Trounce’ is a good option.
We still have many weeks of summer to go, with the potential for a great many vegetable harvests. Keeping on top of any developing issues in the garden will ensure you’ve got incredible edibles coming along for the rest of the season!
Tip: It’s almost time to Fall and Winter Vegetables going. If you’re harvesting sections of your garden in early August, save the space for Fall and Winter Veggies. Watch our upcoming newsletters for further details!