Solving Common Problems by Vegetable Family

Every gardener experiences obstacles when growing vegetables, but with diligence and patience, there are solutions. Susan Mulvihill provides insight on how to deal with or prevent issues caused by animal pests (deer, chipmunks, squirrels and gophers); plant diseases; or weather related issues.

The book also offers comprehensive vegetable disease profiles, as well as organic strategies and solutions for dealing with bacterial, fungal, and viral ailments.


Weeds can be one of the most significant obstacles a vegetable grower faces. Competing for water, nutrients, and light with their crop leads to reduced yield as weeds compete for water resources while harboring pathogens that damage it further – not to mention decreasing quality!

There are various weeds and methods for combatting them, but prevention is the key to successful weed control. Weeds can be controlled through cultivation, mulches, herbicides, or physical removal; avoidance is vital to save money, stay out of harm’s way, and remain environmentally friendly! Avoidance also saves on chemicals deemed potentially dangerous for people, pets, and beneficial insects in your garden.

Annual weeds typically sprout during the fall, winter, or spring and produce seeds before dying away again before blooming again the following season. Gardeners find annual weeds especially troublesome because they appear quickly, spread fast, and produce large numbers of seeds at once. Such weeds include downy brome, cheatgrass, wild carrot, sowthistle, and London rocket, among others.

Perennial weeds have long-term lives and tend to be less troublesome than annual ones; however, they can still be challenging to manage as they have deep roots that spread quickly in the early summer months. Some common examples include henbit, wild parsley, and wild mustard, which often increase over time.

Creeping perennials reproduce by creeping above-ground stems (creeping roots or rhizomes) and seeds. They are difficult to control because they form large colonies that make pulling up difficult without breaking rhizomes or sending out new shoots. Examples include red sorrel, field bindweed, mouseear chickweed, and ground ivy.

Biennial weeds resemble perennial ones in that they take two years to mature and produce seeds. However, because they are slower-growing and produce fewer seeds than their annual counterparts, biennials typically don’t present as many problems.

All vegetable crops face some level of competition from weeds for water, nutrients, and sunlight. Achieving more beneficial production practices will result in a lower weed population and increased yields. Weeds also interfere with harvesting operations, making them less efficient. They act as reservoirs of plant pathogens that cause disease in crops and insect vectors for these pathogens.


As is widely recognized, pests are microscopic organisms that can drastically decrease vegetable crop output or even cause it to be eradicated entirely if left unmanaged. Various measures can be taken to minimize or eradicate pests in your garden, such as using insecticidal sprays or releasing beneficial insects.

Problems may also stem from a need for pollinators, particularly for fruit-bearing crops such as tomatoes and cucumbers that rely on bees for pollination. To promote pollinators, keep gardens free of weeds while offering bees plenty of food; plant vegetables in areas where bees have not previously visited; or use yellow sticky traps to attract bees to your vegetable patch.

Disease is another of the more frequently occurring vegetable issues. It can be caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses and affects the leaves, stems, fruits, or roots of affected plants. The symptoms often appear similar-looking, and an experienced gardener should usually be able to recognize them as indicators that something may be amiss.

Rotating vegetables each year can help prevent or minimize disease problems in a family. Tomatoes, which belong to the Solanaceae (Nightshade) family, require rich soil that provides nourishment; planting tomatoes annually in the same location depletes it and may no longer support a harvest in subsequent years.

Cucumber beetles, members of the Solanaceae family, can damage all cucurbits, such as melons, squash, and cucumbers. To combat them effectively, rotate cucurbits with members of the brassica family, such as turnips and mustard collard greens, every year in different locations than non-cruciferous crops.

Pheromone traps can help attract and confuse beetles, flea beetles, and other insects that cause problems in vegetable gardens. These traps use the pheromones (sex attractants) generally produced by insects to facilitate mating opportunities; some specific pheromones will attract particular insect pests of vegetables – this way, you can decrease populations through traps.

Pheromone traps are also widely available to combat thrips, mirid beetles, and other insects that damage vegetables and fruit. At the same time, predatory mites such as Metaseialus occidentalis or Phytoseiulus persimilis can be released into your garden to feed on any potential problems with pests like these.


Diseases (fungi, bacteria, and viruses) can be the most serious threats to home vegetable gardens. While some diseases target specific families of vegetables, others are more widespread and affect many varieties simultaneously. Affected vegetables may show symptoms including rot, mildew, wilting, or stunting, and their severity is usually determined by weather conditions during the growing season and garden sanitation practices.

Utilizing disease-resistant varieties is the most effective method for controlling diseases in home vegetable gardens. Your local MU Extension publication or seed catalog should feature resistant vegetable varieties for your area. Resistance does not guarantee immunity; if disease emerges, it may affect them less severely.

Fungi and bacteria are usually the sources of most infectious vegetable diseases, invading susceptible plants in soil under ideal environmental conditions and producing symptoms specific to each vegetable family; for instance, cucurbits often exhibit symptoms known as “angular leaf spot,” consisting of yellow lesions with tan or dull yellow margins that spread into large areas of damaged leaves. Other common symptoms in different diseases are bacterial wilt of cucurbits, anthracnose of onion/garlic combinations, and “bacterial spot of tomato,” as an exam,” es of common infectious disease symptoms.

As well as diseases caused by pathogens, nonparasitic disorders can also devastatingly impact vegetable crops. These disorders include environmental stresses like extreme temperatures or moisture conditions, imbalanced nutrition, herbicide misuse/carryover, and soil deficiencies of organic matter.

Understanding abiotic causes of diseases and how to avoid them are both critical components of gardening success. One practical approach is through crop rotation; for instance, if potatoes have been grown on one site for two years, then switching over to beans or tomatoes may be appropriate – similar logic applies when dealing with heavy feeder vegetables such as squash and melons, which deplete essential soil nutrients, leaving subsequent crops susceptible to diseases and pest issues.


Gardening can be complex, and every gardener encounters obstacles and setbacks. However, learning more about your plants and how they grow can make caring for them more straightforward and less likely to cause setbacks or new ones. A great place to begin this exploration is by familiarizing yourself with vegetable families. However, each variety has specific needs for caretaking, and many share similar attributes, which makes knowing which varieties belong in each family easier and quicker than ever! You’ll then be able to use your gardening knowledge with your relatives!

Allium family (onions, leeks, and garlic) prefer cool weather and well-draining soil, with frost tolerance that allows planting early or late depending on latitude; they don’t do well in hot temperatures; onions, leeks, and garlic contain antioxidants that protect cells against certain diseases while providing essential protein, fiber, and bone-strengthening calcium and energy-giving iron to the body.

Brassicaceae is an extensive family that includes cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, and collards. All four cruciferous vegetables contain powerful cancer-fighting compounds; in addition, like their Allium relatives, they provide a good source of vitamin C as well as iron, potassium, and magnesium for overall wellness.

Solanaceae, or Solanaceaceae for short, is a family of herbs, shrubs, trees, and vines found throughout warmer regions of the United States, such as tomatoes, peppers, chilies, and eggplants. Although they prefer warmer cultivating environments, they can still thrive in temperate regions. Because these heavy feeders require rich soil with ample nutrient reserves – their growth can deplete such supplies, hindering other family members from flourishing successfully.

Most home vegetable gardens employ crop rotation techniques to prevent disease and provide needed nutrients to the soil. It is important to remember that not all vegetables belong to the same family and have different water requirements. When rotating crops, it is wiser to rotate related rather than unrelated vegetables. Furthermore, cover crops can help capture excess nitrogen for use by future crops.

Leave a Comment