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Common Vegetable Questions

 

Beans

My beans look healthy but are not forming pods, why?

A.  Blossoms may drop in hot dry weather.

Should peas and beans be inoculated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria?

A.  Yes on new ground.

Beets

Why don't my beets form?

A.  Overcrowding or shade.

Broccoli

What causes small heads on broccoli?

A.  High temps,  extremely early planting,   severe drought,  delayed transplanting.

What causes hollow stem in broccoli?

A.  Excessive nitrogen

Brussels Sprouts

Why don't my brussels sprouts form firm heads?

A.  Development during high weather.

Cabbage

How can you prevent mature cabbage heads from splitting?

A.  Cut the roots on one side of plant or twist plant a quarter turn.

What is flowering cabbage?

A.  Non-heading form similar to kale.

Carrots

Why do carrots develop a fork or twist in them?

A.  Forks can be caused by compacted soil, stones or close cultivation; Twisting is most often caused by thick planting.

What causes carrots to have hairy roots?

A . Aster yellows disease.

Why are carrots bitter?

A.  Uneven supply of moisture or nutrients.

Cauliflower

What causes leaves in the middle of my cauliflower heads?

A.  Development during hot weather.

Is purple cauliflower the same as white cauliflower?

A.  It is more like broccoli, doesn't need blanching and turns green when cooked.

What causes brown spots on cauliflower heads?

A.  Downy mildew or exposure to sunlight with water droplets on head.

What causes small heads (buttoning) on cauliflower?

A.  Stress by cold, heat or drought.

What cause cauliflower to not set heads?

A.  Temperatures are too cold or plants are too mature or hard when set out.

Sweet Corn

How long does it take from silking to harvest for sweet corn?

A.  About 20 days.

Why don't the ears on my sweet corn fill to the tip?

A.  Dry weather during silking and pollination, planting too close or poor pollination from wet weather

Cucumbers

Why did cucumber vines suddenly wilt and die?

A.  Bacterial wilt spread by cucumber beetles.

Why aren't cucumbers setting fruit?

A.  First flowers are all male, cold temps or rainy weather prevent pollination by bees, insecticides killed bees, gynoecious hybrids require a pollinator plant

Kohlrabi

When is the best time to harvest kohlrabi?

A.  When it is 2-3 inches in diameter.

Lettuce

Why is lettuce bitter?

A.  Bitterness occurs in hot dry weather when seed stalks form. It may disappear after storing in refrigerator a few days.

What is the best time of the day to harvest lettuce?

A.  Research has shown that lettuce harvested at 7 a.m. contains up to 100% more sugar than leaves picked at 2 p.m.

Muskmelons & Cantaloupes

What is the difference between cantaloupe and muskmelon?

A.  True cantaloupe is not grown in the US. We refer to netted muskmelons in the US as cantaloupe.

Why are muskmelons poor flavored?

A.  Cool temps, wet conditions, cloudy weather, too much nitrogen or harvested before mature.

Onions, Leeks

Should onion tops be broken over?

A.  No - Rot easier, may not be mature - Select short season variety.

Should onion bulbs be covered with soil?

A.  No - Don't plant them too deep and brush away the soil so that roughly 2/3 is above soil surface.

Why did leeks rot at roots?

A.  Maggots - Treat with diazinon in spring.

Parsnips

Why are parsnips sweeter when harvested after a frost?

A.The cool temperatures convert the starch to sugar, but they can be eaten earlier.

Peppers

Why aren't my peppers setting fruit?

A.  Hot, dry winds; night temps over 70 F or below 50 F, excess nitrogen.

Potatoes

Can I save potatoes from year to year to replant?

A.  Best to buy certified seed to avoid the build up of virus and other disease.

How can I prevent scabby potatoes?

A.  Select a resistant variety, rotate planting area and avoid high pH soils.

My potatoes formed little green balls on the stems. Are they edible and what are they?

A.  No, they are not edible. They are the resulting fruit of pollinated potato flowers and contain true potato seeds.

What causes green skin on potatoes?

A.   Exposure to light. Green areas contain alkaloids that are toxic.

Pumpkins & Squash

Will my pumpkins and squash cross pollinate?

A. Yes, certain types can but taste, shape and color are not affected. If you plant the seeds you will see the effects on the offspring.

Radishes

Why do my radish split?

A.  Excess moisture, overmature.

Why don't my radishes form roots?

A.  Planted to thick, high temperatures, too much nitrogen fertilizer or too much shade.

Rutabagas

Why do rutabagas get tough and bitter?

A.  Matured during hot weather. Sow in June for late fall crop.

Sweet Potatoes

Why do sweet potatoes grow long and stringy?

A. To wet or poorly drained soil or cool temperatures. Try raised beds or planting in a large container such as a whiskey barrel.

Tomatoes

What causes tomato leaves to roll?

A. We don't know. So we call it physiological leaf roll.

Why do tomatoes crack?

A. Some varieties show this more. It may be caused by leaf pruning or uneven soil moisture supply.

Watermelons

How can I tell if my watermelon is ripe?

A. Tendril near the stem turns brown, skin resists puncture by a thumbnail, ground spot turns yellow.


Todd Weinmann, Extension Horticulturist & Master Gardener Coordinator
Phone: (701) 241-5707
E-mail: todd.weinmann@ndsu.edu

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