Troubleshooting Your Vegetable Garden

Watering plants in a vegetable garden.
A successful vegetable garden requires more than simply preparing the soil and planting your vegetable plants or seeds. You will need to respond to any number of issues that might arise, such as leggy plants, low yield, or insect damage. This is a page about troubleshooting your vegetable garden.


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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 858 Posts
July 26, 2006

If you grow edibles long enough, you're bound to run into some problems. Many these problems can be avoided (or at least overcome) with proper cultivation techniques. Unfortunately, once in a while problems crop up that are difficult to diagnose and not easily remedied. Whether one plant is having a problem, or a whole crop, here's a list of some common problems in the vegetable garden and what causes them.

General Crop Problems

Seed Not Germinating:

Caused by old seeds, washed away seeds, lack of moisture, temperatures being too cold or too hot, improper planting depth or seeds being stolen by animals.

Plants Lack Vigor (spindly seedlings):

Usually due to tired soil (lack of organic nutrients), lack of proper light, and root damage caused by disease or transplanting.

Low Yields:

This could be due to a lack of water, using the wrong type of fertilizer (fruiting crops like tomatoes and peppers like high amounts of potassium, while leaf plants like cabbage like high amounts of nitrogen), or plants may be too crowded and unable to compete for nutrients.

Generally Slow Growth:

This could be due to improper pH, infertile soil, cool weather, low light conditions, poor drainage (poor soil structure) or too little or too much moisture.

Unsteady Supply of Crops:

This is primarily due to a lack of succession planting. Stagger crops like carrots, lettuce and green beans a few weeks apart so you have a continuous supply all season long.

Pin Holes in Leaves:

The culprit here is usually the flea beetle, a small, black or silver insect that jumps when disturbed.

Standing Water:

This indicates a drainage problem caused by poor soil structure.

Crop Specific Problems




Carrots (radishes, etc.)




Lettuce & Spinach (also onions)








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4 Questions

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June 10, 2011

My garden is not doing so well. The leaves are dying or turning yellow. Some of the seeds I planted are not growing. I am not sure what to do. Can you help? This is my first garden. Thanks.

By Roxie


June 10, 20110 found this helpful

How did you prepare the soil? It may be a soil ph problem. If you can get the ph tested (there are kits available at garden centers), you can adjust the acidity or alkalinity with safe ingredients. If you add organic matter (compost), make sure it is fully "cooked" before adding it. Don't add sawdust. If you don't have access to compost, you can add some peat moss to the soil. Your local extension service may be able to help you know what typically needs to be added to the soil in your area. Yellowing leaves can also mean too much water. What part of the country do you live in?

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 109 Feedbacks
June 11, 20110 found this helpful

There are two things you need to do. Visit the local extension office and talk to your neighbors that garden. If your neighbors don't garden visit the neighbors of friends or relatives that have gardens. You need someone you can call when you need information that is willing to help you. You may even find someone that not only has a garden and can help you but they may can their veggies and will teach you that as well. And canning is an art that leads to savings.

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May 16, 2012

I planted my garden last night and watered it this morning and I came home and all my plants are slumped over, what do I do? Or what is going on?

By Zeb


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
May 16, 20120 found this helpful

I think we need more info...What were the plants? What was the temperature? How much water? Are they in sun or shade? Did you use any fertilizer? Could be you over watered them. Do they have good drainage? Are they in beds or in the ground?

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April 22, 2014

Closeup of perhaps tomato plant leaves.My garden has been in the ground for five weeks now. All the new leaves on the plants are curled up. I have tomatoes, peppers, squash. and cucumbers. What is this? Various plants with curling leaves.

View of the leaves of several plants.

By David

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