With people staying home more than ever before, many Northeast Ohio homeowners are trying their hand at vegetable gardening. We’re fortunate that we have a fairly substantial gardening season—usually beginning as early as March and going through October or November. Growing your own vegetables can be incredibly rewarding—as well as a way to get the kids or grandkids in your life to potentially make healthier choices as they get involved in the process.
Of course, nothing is more frustrating than seeing your garden damaged by pests or other problems that may arise unexpectedly. Oftentimes, one of the biggest aggravations is trying to figure out what’s causing your problem. Diagnosis of a potential vegetable garden concern is not always cut-and-dry.
Because we know that you love spending time in your backyard and we want you to be able to enjoy it to the fullest, we’ve rounded up some helpful tips on caring for your vegetable garden that should help you get to the bottom of potential problems.
Of the various pests that might be feasting on your veggies, we frequently see a variety of beetles here in Ohio. Different crop types can attract different beetles. For example, flea beetles tend to attack broccoli, cabbage, and kale while the Colorado potato beetle attacks potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant. We also see aphids and mites sometimes pop up in vegetable gardens.
The signs of a beetle problem usually show up as visible holes in the leaves.
Aphid damage will look like leaf wilt as a result of sap-sucking while mite damage will look like white stippling on leaves.
The best way to address an insect problem will come down to the type of insect that you’re dealing with. Soap or oil can often be an organic solution for mites and aphids that works but certain beetles types may require finding a garden-safe control product designed for your specific concern.
Of course, insects are not the only pest that you might find munching on your crops. You might find that your garden is attracting everything from rabbits, moles, and squirrels to maybe even deer. You’ll need to find the best solution to critter-proof your garden. In order to do that, you’ll once again want to perform some sleuthing and figure out what’s eating your garden in the first place.
Maybe you’ve actually witnessed the feasting—or maybe you are relying on what the damage looks like. For instance, whereas deer tend to leave very jagged edges behind on plants (as a result of only having bottom incisors), rabbits have both sharp upper and lower incisors and make clean cuts when they feed.
Oftentimes, the best solutions involve mesh coverings or fencing. We’ve also heard that some homeowners have had some success with using repellents that smell or taste bad to wildlife. This might involve rubbing a fragrant bar of soap on branches and foliage—or even planting certain plant varieties on the outskirt of your garden, which have a fragrance certain wildlife dislike. Aromatic perennial herbs like mint, thyme, and lavender are some examples.
Disease Worries, Too
While pests and nuisance wildlife feeding on your vegetable garden are a legitimate concern, unfortunately they’re not your only potential foe. Vegetable plants are subject to potential diseases, just like other plants in your landscape. Again, different diseases are going to cause different symptoms and require different solutions. Some of the common ones that we see are downy mildew and fusarium wilt.
A lot of diseases occur when conditions are subpar. If you’ve been overwatering or you’ve planted your veggies in poorly drained soil, you might be setting yourself up for trouble.
As with anything, implementing good cultural practices can help prevent some of these potential problems in the first place.
Enhancing Your Backyard Experience
We love that more people are spending time at home in their backyards and truly using them to the fullest. Growing your own vegetables can be a very rewarding experience as you maximize the potential of your land! Homeowners also tell us they feel good about enjoying delicious produce that they grew with their own hands.
At Exscape Designs, we can easily get on board with any trend that has people spending more time enjoying the outdoors. It’s our own love of the outdoors that got us into this industry in the first place.
If there’s anything that we can do to enhance your backyard experience, we’d love to talk. We can take over the lawn and landscape maintenance that you don’t want to handle yourself so that you can spend more time doing the things you do enjoy—like gardening. We can also assist in building outdoor living spaces that give you room to spend even more time outside—maybe dining on those delicious vegetables you grew in your garden. In the end, we know it’s not just about having these spaces but about the memories that you’re making in them.