Plants need the right balance of nutrients to grow and produce fruit. Not enough nutrients can cause deficiencies, which ultimately slow or stop growth, deform leaves, and make it difficult for plants to grow healthy.
Having healthy soil is the best way to grow healthy plants. Healthy soil is teaming with living organisms, fungi, and bacteria. Organic matter supports this life and helps improve soil structure, water holding capacity, and nutrient absorption.
Fertilizing poor soil is only a temporary solution, building healthy soil is a goal for long-term production.
- Soil Testing for Nutrient Management : Iowa State
- Prepare and Care for Soil Properly: University of Illinois Extension
Garden pests are a reality in any garden. How many and how bad the infestation can be helped by early detection.
Scout for insects and damage early and often to determine how to reduce or eliminate them.
Controlling pests may include barriers, physical removal, and beneficial insects. Chemicals should ONLY be used as a last resort, when all other control methods have been explored, as often these chemicals kill good insects too (pollinators and predatory bugs).
- Control Pests: University of Illinois Extension
Watering the garden at the right time, the right way helps reduce disease, evaporation, and time.
Wet leaves=higher risk of disease and infection. Only water at the base of plants, near the roots during early morning or late afternoon (after the intense sun has passed).
Sprinkler systems and overhead spraying is not ideal. Much water is wasted on plant parts and surfaces that do not need water. These systems also make plants more susceptible to disease and infection.
- Watering in the Home Garden-Use of Trickle Irrigation: Iowa State University
- Water Properly: University of Illinois Extension
Managing weeds in the garden reduces competition for sun and nutrients so that plants in the garden can thrive.
Weeding can be reduced by mulching around plants early in the season. Mulch options vary, but ideally break down in one growing season.
- Weed Management in the Home Garden: Iowa State
- Organic Mulches: Iowa State University
- Keep Down Weeds: University of Illinois Extension
10 Steps to a Successful Garden: University of Illinois Extension
Disease Prevention and Control: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/vegguide/problem_disease.cfm
Blossom Drop: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/vegguide/problem_drop.cfm
Injury from 2,4-D: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/vegguide/problem_injury.cfm