1. BER or Blossom End Rot is one of the earliest issues tomato growers face when the plants start producing. It is characterized by a soft or rotten spot on the tomato where the flower was, and probably the answer to the common question “What’s wrong with my tomato?” It is caused by the plant’s lack of ability to uptake calcium from the soil. It is helped by planting the tomatoes deep, which produces a larger root system. You can also add calcium to the soil easily and cheaply by placing a Tums in the planting hole.
2. The soil was too cold. Commonly this is the answer to “Why didn’t my bean seeds sprout?” and “Why is my corn stunted?”
Beans can actually rot if the soil is too cold. The exception here is Lima beans which prefer cooler temperatures. For green and dry beans, patience is a virtue.
The issue with corn is different. The seeds can sprout, but the plants may not grow well. Sometimes you don’t see the problem until it is too late. Here is an excellent brief explanation of what can happen if corn is planted too soon.
In both cases, wait until the soil temperature is consistently at least 50F four inches below the surface. A simple kitchen food thermometer is all you need to check.
3. The pot is too small. Why didn’t I get a better crop of potatoes? Why is my tomato plant stunted? When choosing a container, keep in mind how the plant grows and produces. If it will grow what you eat below the soil, make sure there is enough room. Potatoes need a lot of room to produce a good crop. Tomatoes need room for their root systems, as described above, to grow well. Here’s a quick reference guide to help.
4. The temperatures are too hot. We don’t have this issue much in the north, but it happens. The result tends to be blossom drop, when the flowers of tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers literally just fall off producing no fruit. Blossom drop can have other causes as well, read more.
5. Transplant shock. When your seedlings are transplanted and they stop growing it can be due to transplant shock. This is just what the name implies. It can be fatal, but rarely is; usually plants just need a wee bit of time to recover. You can help prevent it by slowly exposing your seedlings to the elements a little at a time. Known as hardening off, it can also be accomplished by turning a fan on the plants. This helps make the stems sturdier and the plant more able to handle the stress of moving. It is also a good idea to keep a plant out of direct light or sun for at least 8 hours after transplanting. You can do this my performing the task on a cloudy or rainy day, or by covering the plant with an inverted pot.
6. Too much fertilizer. Specifically, too much nitrogen. This is the answer to “Why are my tomatoes, peppers and/or eggplants so healthy and bushy but not producing any fruit?” Learn about different fertilizers and give your plants what they need to do what you want them to.
7. Inconsistent moisture. “Why didn’t my carrot seeds sprout?” is most often the question this answers. This is true for many seeds, but carrots are a real bugger for it. It can also contribute to BER. This is a tough one because you will need to control the moisture yourself. For carrot seeds, keep them moist on days it doesn’t rain. I have heard of gardeners keeping a wet board over the seed area, but never tried that. For tomatoes, mulching helps keep the moisture supply even.
8. Get a soil test. I have never had my soil tested, I admit. It’s only because by the time I found out such a thing existed, I had already learned the hard way what I needed to do. This is the answer to many questions about problems in the garden. Blueberries for example, like an acidic soil and that is essential to their growth. That same soil can make growing other veggies difficult at best. Here’s more on what a soil test will tell you.
Many gardeners who have been growing for a long time can get a pretty good bead on how healthy their soil is. It should be teaming with crawlies, and compact just right in your hands. It should look and smell rich.
9. It’s a pollination issue. “Why did my zucchini suddenly shrivel up and die?” We hear this question more and more as our population of pollinators declines. In this case the flower was pollinated, but not enough. One visit by a bee won’t cut it, it takes repeated stops to get enough pollen to make the fruit develop well.
10. Yes, you can plant them together. “Can I plant melons with my cucumbers?” There is a major misconception that plants can just cross-pollinate with any plant remotely related to them. This is simply not the case. Plants need to be the same species to cross. A cucumber can cross with another cucumber, but not with a melon. And a cantaloupe won’t cross with a watermelon. Hot and sweet peppers can cross if they are pretty close together. This can make a sweet pepper have a wee bit more of a kick in the seeds. Been there, done that.
Peas and beans won’t cross with other peas and beans because they are self-pollinating. Go ahead and save those seeds. In fact, you can go forever without buying new seeds if you want to. If you want to become squash seed independent, read this.
In the case of all veggies, it is the seeds that are affected by a cross. If you don’t eat or save the seeds, it won’t matter.
So there you have some of the answers you may need as the growing season progresses. Happy Gardening!
Thank you for sharing this post.