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Leaves in Our Vegetable Garden are Turning Yellow

Q: My container garden was doing just fine for about 3 weeks but now the leaves are turning yellow. What is the problem and how do I fix it? My garden has tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, squash, banana peppers, etc.


Hardiness Zone: 9a

Skipper from Pearl River, LA

A: Pearl,

Your vegetable container garden sounds great! Unless you're using a soil-less mix as a growing medium, it's easy to over water containers-especially in cooler weather. Although vegetables in containers need frequent watering, less soil means less watering (although they may need it more frequently) than if they were planted in the ground. Too much water starves the roots of oxygen and causes leaves to turn yellow. Different vegetables may absorb water at different rates, so it's best to check your pots everyday. If you stick your finger in the soil, it should feel damp, but not wet to the touch.

Container vegetables can be watered deeply once per week (to the point where you see water running out the bottom drainage holes) to leech out salts in the soil. If you want to eliminate any guess work, consider purchasing a moisture meter or using self watering containers. Once the summer heat really sets in, mulching your containers and creating windbreaks around them will help cut down on watering. You might also want to group your containers close together to create a canopy effect (peppers love the humidity this creates).

Good luck!

Q: Leaves in vegetable garden are turning yellow. Will colder mornings turn the leaves yellow, or is this a soil problem? Plants include tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and pumpkins.

Hardiness Zone: 7a

Keever from Salt Lake city, Utah

A: Keever,

Yellow leaves in the vegetable garden can indicate any number of problems. This early in the season, the most common reason are probably due to over-watering, a lack of nitrogen (fertilizer) or in the case of some seedlings, it could even be a delayed reaction to transplant shock. If you think there is a chance you over-watered, simply back off and let the plants catch up. If you added some compost or other organic nutrients to your soil before planting, fertilizer isn't likely to be your problem. If you didn't you may want to consider side-dressing your plants with some good quality compost. (Yellow leaves that look burnt on the tips or have new growth that is blackened, are symptoms of plants receiving too much fertilizer.) In regards to your cold mornings, when weather turns suddenly cooler, growth slows down which inhibits your plant's ability to take up phosphorus. This can stunt the plant's growth for a time and make them temporarily unproductive-regardless of how fertile your soil is. Low phosphorus levels are indicated by leaves and stems turning a pale purple, almost bronze color.


Hope this information helps!


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