Vegetable Problems

Vegetables are relatively easy to grow but do exhibit certain problems.  Here are some common problems:


Failing to set pods

Excess heat.  Plant in a location that receives some shade during the day or hose the plants down during the day to cool them off.


Seed or bolts

Goes to seed or bolts very quickly after the flower us formed.  It is essential to pick the heads when ready.  To ensure a continuous supply of broccoli, stagger the seeding dates.  Broccoli is a “cold” crop and high temperatures will increase the tendency to bolt.  Broccoli produces better if planted together in closely spaced beds.


Ricey Heads

Ricey cauliflower develops when periods of high temperatures occur during development of the curd.  Early maturing varieties are particularly susceptible.  To avoid this problem, start plants late in the season or plant late maturing varieties to ensure curds develop in the cool part of the season.

How to Blanch

This is done to prevent yellowing of the cauliflower curd caused by sunlight.  When the curd is visible, tie leaves loose enough to allow air to circulate.

Pink Coloured Development

Usually associated with hot temperatures.  Frequently also has bitter taste.

Cauliflower and Broccoli

No Heads

Can be due to death of the growing point resulting from extreme heat or cold or insect or mechanical damage.  Plant blindness may also be caused by high ethylene or low oxygen concentrations which cause physiological abortion of the terminal shoots.  If the variety is late maturing and the weather is cool the development of the heads may be delayed.


How to Blanch

Paper cartons (milk carton), boards or planting close together will produce blanching.  Burying with soil is not recommended as rot can occur.


Removing suckers is not recommended as injury to the root system may occur.  Suckers have not been shown to reduce yield per plant.

Cucumbers, Cabbage and Cauliflower

Bitter Taste / Radishes too Hot

Characteristic of some varieties.  Factors that have resulted in slow growth for example lack of adequate fertilizer and water will increase time of development and may also result in strong-tasting or bitter vegetables.  Both high and low temperatures influence taste.

Cucumbers and Squash

Blossoms Drop Off:

Normally the first flowers produced on these plants are male flowers.  Male flowers provide only pollen and are not capable of setting fruit.  Female flowers appear a short time after the first male flowers and if the female flower is pollinated, fruit will be set.  Excessively cool nights or hot temperatures result in blossom drop.

Lettuce and Radish

Poor Growth and Development

Short season crops such as radish and lettuce do not grow well under high summer temperatures.  Plan the garden carefully so that these plants will receive some shading.  Using organic mulches to keep the soil cooler will extend the growing period in the summer.

Potato Fruit

Occasionally potato flowers are pollinated and produce fruit similar to small green tomatoes.  Do not use potato fruit as they contain a glycoalkaloid poison.

Spinach, Lettuce


Cool season crops that will readily bolt or go to seed when weather is hot.



Train staking tomatoes to a single stem by removing any side shoots.  Pinch off the top of the plants in early August so that all the plant’s energies go into ripening of the fruit.  Never prune bush tomatoes.

Removal of leaves may expose tomato fruit directly to intense sunshine that can result in sun scalding as well as other tomato disorders.  Tomato ripening occurs independently of sunlight.

Fruit Set Spray is sometimes used on greenhouse tomatoes.  When applied properly fruit will set.  It is preferable to use natural methods and use fruit set spray only when weather is dull and overcast and natural pollination is unlikely.  Tomatoes are self-pollinating when planted outdoors, requiring only wind to vibrate the blossoms.

Blossom-End Rot of Tomatoes, Peppers and Eggplants

Characterized by a sunken, black, rotted area not the basal or blossom-end of the fruit.  Blossom-end rot is a non infectious disorder caused by calcium deficiency.  
Control: maintain uniform soil moisture and avoid close cultivation of the plants.  Avoid using high nitrogen fertilizers unless it’s absolutely needed.  Correct imbalances in the soil.  Add calcium in some form.

Growth Cracking

Tomatoes, Cabbage

A physiological disorder resulting from fluctuations in rate of growth because of water, heat or other stress factors.
Control: Maintain optimum growth conditions with uniform watering, fertilizing, etc.  Avoid wide fluctuations in water supply, especially during hot sunny weather.


Cat facing

A physiological disorder that results from the disturbances such as prolonged cool weather during pollination, which may inhibit the fertilization process.

Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplants

Leaf Roll

A physiological condition of solanaceous crops brought on by either an excess or inadequate water supply.  The condition does not usually affect plant growth and the plant will generally continue to develop normally.  Curled leaves rarely uncurl.
Control: Maintain uniform soil moisture levels.