From the Desk of Ed Hume: What’s Going On in the Vegetable Garden?

July 23, 2012 at 1:42 PM Leave a comment

I want to share with you a few things that may be going on (or have gone on) in vegetable gardens this year:

BUSH BEANS- It is not unusual for some varieties of bush beans to send tendrils up above the leaves.  Many home gardeners think this is an indication that they are pole beans.  No, they are bush beans, just ignore the tendrils.  Or if you want, just put in a few cut-off branches to help support the plants.

BEANS NOT PRODUCING- When bean flowers fall off, it is usually caused by cultivating when plants are in bloom or by over/under watering.  Beans also will not produce if temperatures drop below about 55 degrees or go above 90 degrees.

BEANS, PEAS OR CORN NOT GROWING- Usually it is because the birds have taken them.  When the seeds of beans, peas, or corn do not appear to be germinating, dig down and see what is happening to the seed.  The seeds of these three vegetables are large enough that you can find them in the soil. Often you will find they are gone. If that’s the case it was probably birds or voles.  If the seeds developed growth, but it has been cut (eaten) at ground level, usually it has been eaten by squirrels, voles, crows, slugs, or rabbits.  If the seeds are rotten, it may because hot manure or chemical fertilizer has burned them.  Soaking seeds too long or planting in soil that is too wet will also cause them to rot.  Poor quality seeds can also be the problem.

SMALL CORN PLANTS LYING ON THE GROUND- The culprit is almost always a crow.  They know just when to pull-up the plants and then they eat the seed, which is still attached to the roots.

RADISHES, SPINACH, LETTUCE, ETC.- When any of these crops go to seed right away without developing the edible portion of the plant, it’s called “bolting.”  It is a tough problem to determine, because too much fertilizer, dry soil, crowding, weather, or other forms of stress will cause the plants to bolt.

BITTER LEAF CROPS- Peter Chan the famous Chinese vegetable garden author always recommended that leaf crop vegetables be fed nitrogen fertilizer during their growth cycle to keep the leaves tender, crisp, and flavorful.

FEEDING CORN IN JULY- It is often recommended (in the Northwest) that corn be fertilized with nitrogen in July to give it a boost of growth before the ears form.

WATERING THE VEGETABLE GARDEN- If possible, the best time to water is in the morning.  Be thorough each time you water.  Shallow watering causes the soil to dry out quickly and encourages shallow rooting of your vegetable crops.

Do you have other vegetable questions?  You’ll probably find the answers on our web site


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