Troubleshooting - seedlings and plants - part III

Anita Kundu is talking about growing Broccoli, Carrot, Celeriac, Parsnip, Pumpkin, Tomato, Something else from Auckland

Garden ready!

In this series of posts, I will continue to explore common problems with raising seedlings and plants.  Two days ago, I covered the topic of death.  Yesterday, I focussed on damage, in particular the issues of breakage, pests and disease.  In today’s post, I will cover poor crops and a failure to crop at all.

Poor crop

  •          Sometimes, you can put poor crops down to bad weather, which is beyond our control.  That’s why the price of veggies can be so absurdly high.  Even if your own crop is smaller than usual or the quality isn’t as good, you’ll be really glad that you did grow some in times like this!
  •          Remember that some varieties are more prolific than others eg fancier varieties of pumpkins are not as prolific as crown pumpkins
  •          You might not be feeding your plants enough.  Plants need more than water and sunshine to really thrive.  Veggies like pumpkins are gross feeders and need lots of compost worked into the soil before planting.  Liquid feed your plants weekly during spring and early summer to promote growth, flowering and fruit set
  •          Don’t forget that fruiting and root crops need full sun to crop well.  Leafy veggies can be grown in partial shade.  Simone recently wrote a great post on this topic
  •          Ensure that you’re sowing and planting veggies the right way.  Corn should be planted in blocks, not rows, as it is pollinated by the wind.  This helps ensure that all kernels are formed and there are no gaps in the cobs.  To avoid forked roots, carrots and parsnips should always be sown directly where you want to grow them and not transplanted

Failure to crop

  •          Sometimes plants go to seed prematurely.  This has happened to me in the past with celeriac.  It can be due to fluctuating temperatures in spring, which are beyond your control.  Some advice given to me by Yates to help prevent celeriac from bolting was to keep it well watered
  •          Don’t leave veggies on the plant for too long otherwise they may start going to seed.  This can happen to broccoli, especially as the temperatures increase in spring.  It’s better to pick them when they’re ready, even if they’re on the smaller side rather than wait in the hope that they will grow bigger
  •          Don’t plant seedlings too late in the season, otherwise they won’t have enough time to grow, mature, set fruit and ripen.  The first summer I grew veggies, I remember planting eggplants in February.  There simply wasn’t enough time left for all this to happen before it started getting cold
  •          Fruiting plants sometimes have lots of foliage but few flowers and fruit.  This can be due to poor pollination.  Make sure you plant lots of flowers nearby to help bring the bees into the garden.  For tomatoes, remove the laterals (side shoots at 45 degree angles) so the plant puts its energy into forming fruit rather than lots of leaves.  To encourage more flowering and fruiting, make sure you harvest regularly otherwise the plant will put all its energy into existing fruit rather than forming new flowers and fruit. 
  •          Brassicas sometimes fail to form a head.  This is usually due to too much nitrogen in the soil.  This can also happen when plants are spaced too close together
  •          Root and bulbing crops can fail to form roots or bulb up.  I like using a little superphosphate fertiliser at the time of planting, which encourages the development of strong roots.  It’s fine to use a little blood and bone fertiliser (I like the one in the Yates Nature’s Way line) but don’t use too much otherwise you’ll end up with lots of leaves at the expense of anything happening underground!
  •          Plants can fail to produce if grown in the wrong climate.  Generally speaking (there are some varieties which are exceptions), cherries and apricots need a cold winter and a long, dry summer in order to fruit well.  Peonies also need a chilly winter in order to flower, so don’t bother trying to grow them if you live in Auckland!
  •          Plants can fail to produce if the soil is depleted of nutrients, so make sure you work in lots of compost, sheep pellets and fertiliser before putting in new plants.  I like to dig the garden beds over when old crops come out but have read that it’s not a good idea to do this too often.  Consider planting a cover crop every now and then to replenish the soil

Today’s photo is of our new David Austin rose Grace, which I have been spraying with Yates Super Shield to prevent black spot.  If you’re after David Austin standard roses, D & S Nurseries have an excellent range.