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Problems With Vegetable Plants

By Joshua Duvauchelle ; Updated September 21, 2017
Keep your garden problem-free to experience a bountiful harvest.

Don't buy vegetables in a grocery store when you can harvest your own tomatoes, squash, lettuce and other produce from a backyard garden plot. Many vegetable plants are relatively low-maintenance and can be reared by even novice gardeners. In even the most well-maintained garden, however, several common problems may arise that threaten your harvest.

Stunted Growth and Poor Foliage

Choose a location that's sunny for the best vegetable growth.

Stunted growth and poor foliage and fruit color will occur if vegetables aren't given the sun they need. Most vegetables need approximately eight hours of direct sun per day, according to the University of Illinois, and the garden plot's location should be chosen appropriately. The gardening area should also be away from any trees or shrubs. Such plants send out hungry roots that will rob your vegetable plants of the water and nutrients they need.

Poor Soil Quality

Poor soil quality can result in poor plant and fruit development. Even if the soil is decent, all vegetable gardens will benefit from soil amendments. Stir several inches of aged compost, shredded leaves or grass clippings into the soil four to six weeks before you plant your vegetables; this gives the matter time to decompose in the soil. Follow it with a standard, all-purpose vegetable garden fertilizer (e.g. a 10-10-10 fertilizer), administered according to the rates listed on the product's label. Alternatively, simply use aged compost or manure; stir in 100 lbs. of such matter for every 100 square feet of garden soil.

Insect Pests

Spray chemicals in the late afternoon when helpful bees aren't as active.

Various types of insect pests may attack your vegetables during all stages of growth. These include dozens of types of flies, aphids and beetles. Pyrethroid-based insecticide sprays can tackle most insect pests, according to the University of Florida. Always use insecticides that are labeled for vegetable garden use, and spray the chemicals in accordance with their labeled guidelines since toxicity varies by product. Avoid harming beneficial insects like honeybees by spraying insecticides in the late afternoon when such bugs are less active.


Common garden vegetable disease, like powdery mildew and leaf blight, are caused by fungi. Risks can be minimized by keeping your vegetable plant's foliage as dry as possible by only watering at the plant's base. Most common diseases can be killed with a fungicide spray formulated with maneb or mancozeb, according to the University of Florida.


About the Author


Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.