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What Went Wrong?
by Carla Allen
by Carla Allen

Greetings from Nova Scotia!

Carla Allen has been gardening for the past 25 years, co-owned a nursery in southwestern Nova Scotia for 16 years.

Carla has an extensive image library and nurtures a network of horticulture in the region. She was the first president of the Yarmouth Garden Club.

September 23, 2007

If you planted a vegetable garden this year, you may be experiencing all the joys associated with a successful harvest. Then again... you may not be. Unless you're an exceptionally good grower, it's a rare occasion when EVERYTHING you sow grows as well as you had hoped for. Now is the time to reflect on your season and record what changes are necessary for next year's crop. Here are some of the most common problems associated with growing the most popular vegetables and how to cope with them.

Were your peas yellow, spindly and stunted? If so, seed decay and/or root rot could be the culprit. This is caused by a number of fungi living in the soil which rot the roots and lower part of the stem during periods of cool, wet weather. To avoid this disease, plant peas in hilled-up rows on well-drained soil. An organic method of control is to use a two year rotation with nonsusceptible plants, such as corn, to prevent the buildup of pathogenic organisms. Did your peas seem to grow fine but died before pods formed? Hot weather may have killed the plants before they could produce a crop. Next year plant them earlier.

Problems with misshapen carrots? Heavy soil, or soil that contains rocks, affects the development of this root crop. You can lighten your soil by adding sand and preparing a deep, `fluffy' bed for this vegetable. If you end up with `hairy' carrots (ones which have a lot of small feeder roots) they did not receive enough water. When washing or peeling your carrots, do you see rusty brown streaks or `speckles'. These could be tunnels formed by Carrot Rust Fly larvae. The parent fly lays its eggs in the soil near the plants in mid-May. The young maggots work their way downward along the root and begin feeding. The second generation feeds from late August into September. Preventive measures for this include sprinkling rock phosphate around uncovered plants. You can also spread a floating row cover over the carrots to avoid injury.

Beans (Bush)
Notice any black, sunken spots on your bean pods? This could be anthracnose, a fungal disease. One of the best recommendations is one that my grandfather always warned us about. Stay away from the bean plants when they are wet! Beans are particularly susceptible to mildews and blights as well. Brushing against wet leaves accelerates the spread of this problem. Resistant varieties for include Tendercrop and Eastern Butterwax.

Do your tomatoes have darkened areas near the blossom end that eventually become sunken, black and leathery? This is a condition called `blossom end rot'. It's caused by inconsistent watering or a calcium deficiency. Be sure to water deeply and evenly when you irrigate and check the pH of your soil. If it's below 6.0 add limestone according to directions. It contains calcium.. If your tomato plants did not set fruit, they may have an environmental disease - blossom end drop. Spraying them with seaweed extract can help to rectify the problem. Are your tomatoes developing cracks? This happens when not enough water is applied during fruit development One of the most important cultural practices for growing any crop in your garden is to rotate their position annually. Spores and bacteria can live in the soil into the next season. Some vegetables are better hosts than others for these. Lastly, remember to pull and gather up all dead foliage after frost kill. This will also reduce the incidence of disease problems.

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