Slow, Low, No Production?
Like any other plant, our vegetable and fruit plants are susceptible to conditions and problems that prevent or reduce flowering, and therefore fruiting.
The most important thing you need to do to ensure good production from your fruits and vegetables is to plan accordingly for the produce you want to grow. Growing edibles can be a bit more demanding than other garden plants, so do your research so you fully understand the needs of your chosen plants or you will be wasting your time. If the needs of the plant are not met, you will not get few or no vegetables.
These are some of the things that can adversely affect production in your edible garden:
Wrong Variety If you order that latest greatest new wonderful looking hybrid but it won’t grow in your local conditions or zone, it doesn’t matter how wonderful the reviews are. You will invest the work for little or nothing. Your local nursery or growing center will stock the most reliable varieties for your specific region.
Wrong Spot Edibles must have full sun to produce. There are few exceptions. Some leafy greens and herbs will do fairly well with a bit less sun but not many. Also consider the effect of exposed windy sites (drying out soil and foliage), slopes (rain and soil runoff problems) and extensive tree roots (stealing valuable moisture and nutrients).
Wrong Soil Soil should be close to a neutral pH, should be moisture retentive but with good drainage and be full of nutrients. You may need to dig in lots of organic matter if you soil is not good for edible production. Get a soil test to be sure.
Wrong Time Planting too late or too early can be devastating to production. Tomatoes love heat and if you plant them before the air and soil is plenty warm they may languish or fail completely. Cool season vegetables planted too late may wither, bolt or get bitter.
Too Crowded Vegetables need some space and good air flow to stay healthy. Plants should not shade each other. Follow your planting instructions.
Too Compacted Root vegetables have trouble growing and spreading if the soil is densely compacted.
Inconsistent Water Water is used to move nutrients to all parts of the plant and perform photosynthesis, so it is needed consistently. But occasional dry conditions causing wilting will weaken the plant and cause low yield. Soggy soil can cause root rot. Different vegetables have different needs to be sure you know how much moisture you plants will take out of the soil.
Inconsistent Food You need to feed your plants, hopefully through nutrients from rich soil. Some crops need supplemental fertilizer, they are in general heavy feeders. Make sure you know just which nutrients your plants need. Too much or too little of required specific minerals, nutrients, and acidity or alkalinity can make if difficult for the plant to produce fruits.
Too Hot Plants may be damaged by heat scorch
Too Cold Growth in general may stop or slow, the plants or flower buds may be damaged by frost.
Too Dry Soil and plants may dry out and wither
Too Wet Excessive wet conditions may encourage mold or fungus
Ignoring Pests or Disease Failing to monitor your vegetable garden for devastating pests and disease can result in complete failure. Certain insects and diseases can rapidly destroy plants. Take appropriate action quickly.
No pollination In order to produce fruit and vegetables, flowers must be pollinated. Pollinating insects manage the transfer of pollen from male to female parts in order to produce vegetables and fruit. Some crops, such as pumpkins and melons, need to have the pollen transferred from a separate male flower to a female flower. If there is a lack of the specific insects that pollinate certain plants, or if it is too cold for the insects, there will be little or no produce. There are a few plants that are pollinated by wind, for example corn. In a residential garden you need to be sure not to plant in a wind protected area.
Too Weedy Weeds will take moisture and nutrients that your crops need.
So what can we do to promote strong, healthy and fast growth and production?
Amend the garden annually with compost to ensure rich, well drained soil
Investigate soil warming methods that can get seeds and plants off to a good, fast start (raised beds, floating row covers, cloches)
Water smart, ideally with a soaker hose to deliver moisture slowly, evenly and directly to the soil
Start with nursery grown plants for a head start in cooler regions
Monitor and control weeds and pests.
Those preventive steps can help head off production problems. And most plants are pretty good at taking care of themselves, just give them a little help for a bountiful season.