How to Strengthen Vegetable Plants


A vegetable garden allows you to grow your favorite produce in your own backyard. Growing strong, healthy plants ensures an abundant harvest as well as vegetables that taste their best. Strong plants are also better able to withstand summer droughts and insect damage as well as resisting some common plant diseases. The surest way to strengthen vegetable plants is to take proper care of them and plant certified disease-free seeds and seedlings.

Step 1

Amend the planting bed prior to sowing seeds or transplanting seedlings to ensure the soil provides the necessary nutrients to the plants. Lay a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost over the bed and till it in to a 10-inch depth. Add any recommended fertilizers to the soil for the types of vegetables you are planting. Well-fed plants are less likely to succumb to insects and disease.

Step 2

Install support systems at the time of planting for vegetables that require it, such as tomatoes, peas and pole beans. Use 6-foot tall stakes or trellises driven into the ground 10 inches behind each plant. Installing at the time of planting prevents damage to the plant roots.

Step 3

Water the plants at the recommended rate for the particular variety. Most vegetable plants require 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Water more frequently during drought periods to keep the soil moist and to avoid wilting, which weakens plants. Provide water to the base of the plant and avoid wetting the leaves, as wet foliage is susceptible to disease.

Step 4

Remove weeds before they have a chance to get rooted. Cultivate the top 1 to 2 inches of soil between rows one to two times weekly using a hoe or hand culitvator. This prevents weed seeds from rooting. Pull weeds when they are young and before they flower and produce seeds.

Step 5

Lay a 2-inch layer of mulch, such as straw, over the bed and around the plants to prevent weeds and preserve soil moisture. Mulching also maintains soil temperatures and keeps vegetables off the ground where they may be more susceptible to insect depredation.

Step 6

Check plants regularly for signs of disease. Look on the undersides of leaves for aphids and other insect pests and treat them immediately with insecticidal soap or other insect controls. Look for white or gray growth on leaves and stems that indicate mildew and mold infections---usually caused by improper watering. Treat any suspected infection immediately.

Step 7

Harvest vegetables in the early afternoon once the dew has dried on the leaves. Harvesting wet plants is more likely to spread diseases, especially in the case of beans and peas.

Tips and Warnings

  • Disease is more likely if the same plants are always planted in the same place each year. Rotate crops throughout the garden to alleviate this concern.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Hoe
  • Stakes
  • Hand cultivator
  • Mulch
  • Pesticide


  • University of Tennessee extension: Care Of The Vegetable Garden
  • Oklahoma State University: Summer Care of the Home Vegetable Garden
Keywords: strengthen vegetables, vegetable gardening, plant care

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.