Become a Fan

Sign up for our newsletter

Twitter Feed

  • Could not connect to Twitter

Common Summer Vegetable Problems Solved!!

Unfortunately there are a lot of little things that can go wrong in a vegetable garden, but with good advice Cindy Fake, Placer County Master Gardener, you can steer clear of all of them!  Click here to read the whole article from The Curious Gardener newsletter.

Let’s start with successful summer vegetable garden basics:

  1. Prep your soil with lots of organic matter (material that has come from a once living organism).
  2. Choose plants based on your specific microclimate. A microclimate is a small area whose atmospheric conditions differs from the surrounding area. For example, when planting around the bottom of a hill, be cautious of water run-off, which could result in over watering.  Or if you plant in a small side yard, a wind tunnel could be created between the fence and house wall, injuring wind sensitive plants.
  3. Water according to root depth; young plants should be watered frequently in small amounts, whereas older plants can we watered in larger amounts but less frequently.

Now for some plant-specific tips:

Pink Berkeley Wild Boar Tomato


Tomatoes can be difficult to grow, due to blossom/fruit drop, which is caused by extreme temperatures. If the temperatures drop below fifty degrees, or rise above ninety degrees, it will cause the flowers or young fruit to drop off. Blossom drop only effects certain varieties, like cherry tomatoes, and most of us will find our backyards reaching over ninety degrees, so those who should worry about this are the gardeners whose nighttime temperatures drop, such as Placerville. Blossom drop could be caused by an abundance of nitrogen in the soil, so once flowers form start to use a fertilizer high in phosphorus and potassium.

Another common tomato dilemma is calcium deficiency in the fruit, which is due to the rapid evaporation of water on leaves. To prevent this, your garden must have good irrigation and use mulch. If you find your plants have calcium deficiency you can try oyster shell lime, but only as a last ditch-effort.

A bell pepper showing signs of sunscalding


The major problem that pepper plants can have is sunscald, which is caused by continuous and harsh sun exposure. This can be prevented by planting the peppers close together so they can assist in shading each other. Also plant any larger plants you intend to grow on the west side of the peppers, to help shade them. If flowers appear before a good canopy has developed on the pepper plant, cut those flowers off to ensure the plant’s resources go into creating a protective layer of leaves before growing fruit. Once you’ve let your plant get ready for the sunny days and it is starting to form fruit, take a look at their shape and make sure they look healthy. If not, this could be due to poor pollination, which is an easy fix! Try tapping the flowers with your finger midday, to help pollination.

A variety of summer squash

Squashes and Melons

To help the bees find your summer fruit, plant flowering plants around the area of your squash or melon, which will attract the bees to that general area.

Powdery mildew is a common problem caused by a lack of good air circulation around the plant. to prevent it add sulfur, potassium bicarbonate or neem oil to the soil in late July, all of which should aid in the prevention of the mildew.

Squash bugs can also be a big squash problem. Smash any eggs you find on the back of the leaves. Spraying adults and eggs are a waste so when you see the nymphs, which resemble a larvae shape and are small and gray, use insecticidal soaps or pyrethrin sprays (an insecticide excreted from pyrethum flowers).

To find out more about these plants and tips to keep them going throughout the summer, check out the Placer County Master Gardener’s newsletter The Curious Gardener.


Comments are closed.