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July 7, 2014

Assessing problems in vegetable gardens

Ada —

About this time of year many vegetable growers and gardeners become concerned with various problems that begin to show up in their plantings.  

Plants that were vigorous and healthy until recently are now beginning to exhibit symptoms of various sorts such as loss of vigor, leaves developing assorted types of spots or chlorosis, entire plants wilting and dying, fruit that is not normal, or plants that stop setting fruit.  

The list of specific problems and causes is endless, and any of the vegetables grown in the area will be affected by some problems from time to time.  

However, there are certain vegetables that are commonly prone to certain problems that affect production. Likewise, there are certain specific problems that appear on a relatively frequent basis. 

Probably one of the most disheartening sights a grower finds in the garden is when a plant that is just approaching the stage of fruit set suddenly wilts and dies.  

This type of problem is typically a result of root or vascular system problems.  The specific problems may vary with the plant species, but the general things to look for are as follows:

Dig up the root system to see if there is nematode, insect or disease damage to roots.  If roots are in poor condition, the cause is likely due to direct root injury. 

Roots that are fleshy and galled but lack fine fibrous roots may be affected by root knot nematodes.  These roots can not take up water efficiently, and plants wilt.  

There are other types of nematodes that do not cause galling, so nematode diagnosis is not always so easy.  

If galling is not observed and roots are sparse or damaged in other ways, look for other causes of the root injury.  

Soil borne insects may enter roots and burrow through them or just feed on fibrous roots.  Finally, poor drainage and excess soil moisture can also be damaging to the roots of certain vegetables.

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