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11 Common Problems In A Failing Garden – And How To Solve Them

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A garden is one of the most important aspects of a self-reliant lifestyle. They provide a means of growing your own food and gardening itself is a very rewarding activity. However, some people aren’t blessed with a green thumb and can find themselves struggling to keep their plants alive.

Here is a quick troubleshooting guide to common gardening mistakes.

Problem No. 1 – Plant Varieties Aren’t Zone Compatible

Symptoms: Perennials and biennials are not returning the following year. Annuals are not thriving despite good garden conditions.

Remedies: Make sure to carefully inspect seed packets to see if they will grow in your zone. If you grow plants outside of your zone you will need to bring them in the house, in a greenhouse or otherwise protect them in winter. Try to not grow plants that need cooler temps than your zone as it is extremely difficult to keep a plant cool vs warm.

Problem No. 2 – Plants Are Getting Too Much Water

Symptoms: Plants stop growing. Leaves and branches are wilted or limp. Leaves may be yellowed or browned. Soil is developing mold.

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Remedies: Read the plant’s care instructions carefully to see how much watering it needs. If in doubt, water only a little, but often. Keep in mind how much rain you’ve been getting so you don’t overwater. If you don’t water often but are still experiencing symptoms of overwatering, you may need to mix more sand into your soil to improve drainage.

Problem No. 3 – Plants Are Not Getting Enough Water

Symptoms: Leaves seem curled, burnt, crispy and/or brittle. Leaves are yellow or brown in color. Soil in garden bed looks cracked

Remedies: Water more! Set up a small irrigation system to water for you at regular intervals. Add shade cloth to garden beds to help reduce water evaporation. Mix more clay or soil into your garden bed to improve its ability to hold water. Adding mulch may also help plants conserve water.

Problem No. 4 – Invasive Varieties Are Taking Over

Symptoms: A plant is spreading outwards over garden bed. The plant is choking out other plants in the bed. You notice seedlings that you didn’t plant popping up in areas.

Remedies: Invasive plant species or those that are prone to taking over should be transplanted to containers or a separate bed away from garden. Strongly consider removing all invasive species from your area as they can damage natural flora.

Problem No. 5 – You Haven’t Rotated Plantings

Symptoms: Crop production is lower this season versus last season. You are having more problems with pests and disease. Plants seem to struggle to thrive.

The Secret To Saving Your Tomatoes From Late BlightRemedies: Don’t plant the same annuals in the same beds year after year. Rotate types of crops every year by type – legumes, roots, leafy greens, fruits, etc. If you’ve grown the same crops repeatedly, you will need to fertilize the beds to add nutrients back.

Problem No. 6 – Beds Are Over-Fertilized

Symptoms: Symptoms of over-fertilization are similar to overwatering. Plant will be wilted. Fertilizer-burned plant leaves will have the same burnt look of plants that have not been watered enough. Soil has a whitish, salty material or crust.

Remedies: Mild to moderately over-fertilized plants may be able to be saved by flooding the garden bed with water to push the fertilizer deep into the soil. Severely burnt plants may never recover, so if it’s early in the growing season you may want to compost them and replant.

Problem No. 7 – Beds Are Under-Fertilized

Symptoms: Plants seem weak or just not growing as well as they should. Leaves are mottled, limp or yellow/brown in color.

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Remedies: Some garden beds don’t need to be fertilized but rather have their PH levels checked and have compost added. Use a natural and organic fertilizer whenever possible.

Problem No. 8 – Beds Are Over-Mulched

Symptoms: Shrubs, trees and plants are showing symptoms of thirst despite regular watering. The plants seem to be struggling to grow despite ideal conditions.

Remedies: Keep mulch one or two inches deep in vegetable, flower and fruit beds. Fruit shrubs and trees can be covered with two to four-inches of mulch, depending on size. If you mulched in spring, remove the mulch and add it later in summer.

Problem No. 9 – No Protection Against Pests
Symptoms: Whole plants are missing at ground level or small plants have been uprooted or trampled. Noticeable bite marks taken out of plants. Bent fencing from animals getting in.

Remedies: Set up rabbit- and deer-proof fencing around your garden. Use deterrents for other pets. If you have gophers, moles and similar pests in your area, consider building raised beds.

Problem No. 10 – Plants Are Getting Too Much Sun

Symptoms: Plants looking visibly burnt and parched. Leaves will be brittle and break easily. Similar symptoms to that of underwatering, but watering doesn’t help the health of the plant.

Remedies: Use shade cloth in the garden or move the plants if they are in a container. Consider planting fast-growing trees and shrubs around the garden as a long-term solution.

Problem No. 11 – Plants Aren’t Getting Enough Sun

Symptoms: Leaves are losing their vibrant color and turning yellow and/or mottled. Leaves falling off plant and growth seems stunted. Plants looking spindly with a lot of space between leaves. Plants leaning as they grow in an effort to get more light.

Remedies: If in containers, move plants to sunny location. If in raised beds you can relocate them if they are small. Those with permanent gardens installed may have to cut down trees and bushes.

If you find you are having trouble with your garden, consider whether you’re making one of the above mistakes. It is always a good idea to consult with your local gardening center or any green thumbs you know if you are having a problem with your garden. A garden can be an extremely rewarding, relaxing activity once you have everything set up properly

What would you add? Share your advice in the section below:

Every Year Gardeners Make This Crazy Mistake. Read More Here.

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  1. patrick uzzell

    Good article. However, for suburbs, need to mention deer and rabbits.

    I seem to have found a solution to deer. Just a bb or pellet gun. Mine do not come back. I hate stinging them, as I am the animal rescue type. But my whole lawn is a garden, and nothing was working. Did this as a child for my dad. A few years back, my own son (without my knowing) did that for me.

    FortunATELY, deer are not as big a problem now.

    • I use blackcat firecrackers to scare off strays, possums, etc. Maybe they will work for deer also?
      Also, I mulched my garden 2 years ago and everything died. I was told mulching robbed it of it’s nitrogen.
      This year I shoveled in a truckload of mushroom compost and it is still not doing well. I suppose next I’ll have to plant a bunch of clover to restore the nitrogen.

      • I know that putting manure on the garden is good for it, but what I didn’t know was that HORSE manure will completely destroy the soil and take 7-20 years to recover, whereas COW manure is what I should have used in the first place. Cows have 4 stomachs so their food is digested completely and ready to use as fertilizer, while on the other hand, horses only have one stomach so their food is somewhat digested and still has a ways to go before it is completely broken down. Horse manure will burn everything up in your garden and kill your trees. DON’T USE IT!

        • Actually all animal fertilizer needs to be composed before put on the beds, otherwise, it will burn the plants and kill them. Horse manure is lower in nitrogen than cow manure. Chicken manure is the best. But you have to compost all manure for at least a year, otherwise you will kill the plants that you put it on.

      • Mushroom soil is not good for a garden. I put a load of about 5 tons in mine 15 years ago. Worst garden crops ever and tons of weed.
        Found out that mushroom soil is composted horse manure – loads of weed seeds!

      • Research which vegetables are nitrogen-fixers. They put more nitrogen back into the soil than they use. Corn, for instance, requires a LOT of nitrogen. However, pole beans or bush beans will put nitrogen into the soil- thereby helping solve the problem.

  2. so what about the garden that won’t ‘develope ‘ root crops??

  3. The top picture in this article of the tomato plant – the leaves developing yellow spots and then the leaves turn brown & dying on the lower branches – what is causing this?
    This is what my plants are doing otherwise the plant appears heathy and is growing.

  4. Epson salt provides the plant with the magnesium it needs to produce the “green” in the leaves. Put a small circle of ES around the plant. Don’t forget to water it in. That way the plant can take what it needs when it needs it.
    I use the triage method and cut those dead or dying leaves off the plant. With regards to my tomato plants this year, I cut off leaves at the lower end of the plant and buried the roots deeper then before. In some cases I planted the stem of the plant on it’s side. This way it gave the plant more area to produce roots. You should see the stems this season,larger then I’ve seen before. Two fingers thick, easily.
    With regards to the mulching,I was told that saw dust robbed the soil of nitrogen. However are saying that and purchasing a truck load we were committed to using the saw dust and continue to do so. Saw no evidence of that happening. Mulching still keeps the weeds down to a min, as well as protecting our plants from the hot sun.
    We have raised beds and at least half of the bed is composed of leaves from our back yard We use compost that was a 50/50 mix of leaves and grass,then topped it off with a 0.05 mixture of compost and manure. Then we added an evergreen mixture of top soil to bring the level of the soil to our desired level. I know everyone has their preferences, but we use miracle-grow once a week and our garden is thicker,greener and taller every year. We also have started to make a compost tea. We’ll get back with those results later on. One other thought,at the end of last years season we took what was left from our compost pile and spread it over our raised beds. We think that has helped out too.
    While it seems that extra work has paid off in that area of gardening soil development, garden pest such as Japanese beetles are eating up our rose bush’s,blackberries and now they are visiting our green bean plants. Hand picking was fine when there was a few, but this year they brought there whole family for a visit. FYI- Hand picking, Shop van and neeme oil. beginning in the morning. Some success. This year we introduced 1500 ladybugs into our garden. We also left alone wasp,bees,spiders and grasshoppers. Need to keep an open eye on the leaf hoppers! Want to keep the garden chemical free as much as we can.
    Did not mean for this to be so long,sorry about that. Anyway good luck and good gardening to you all from Southern Patriots Victory gardens in the homeland of America. Be prepared for what’s to come! Good Day mate ! SP

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