The Q&A Archives: Wilting Vegetable Plants

Question: My cabbage, cauliflower & broccoli started well then wilted, and my potatoes did not germinate or did poorly. The roots of the plants were small. Could you tell me what could cause this and how to crrect the problem?

Answer: It sounds as though your soil needs some help. Most vegetables do best in a sunny spot in evenly moist yet well drained (ie not soggy) soil. Deeply prepared beds really are best, so you have your work cut out for you.

First of all, the best way to find out what your soil might (or might not!) need in the way of amendments is to run some basic soil tests. Your County Extension should be able to help you with the tests and with interpreting the results. This will tell you how good or bad your soil really is.

In any case, nearly every soil will benefit tremendously by the addition of copious amounts of organic matter such as compost, rotted leaves, well aged manure and bedding, and so on. (A ten inch layer is not too much!) Using an organic mulch will also help to feed your soil is it breaks down as well as benefit your plants. Your plants also do best with regular watering, roughly an inch a week either from the hose or the sky.

If you decide that a raised bed is the way to go, be sure to add organic matter to the soil to achieve the added height and be very selective if you decide to add topsoil as it should be very similar to the existing topsoil for the best results. Sometimes a rise of only six inches or so makes a big difference. Good luck with your soil!

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