How to Handle the Top 6 Vegetable Garden Challenges

Every gardener will face challenges, but it’s how you handle them that really counts. Here are 6 of the top garden challenges, and how to deal with them when they happen…

Every garden faces its challenges – whether they come in the form of pests and diseases, less-than-ideal weather conditions, or location-related challenges such as too much shade or lack of drainage. Most organic gardeners will face most or all of these garden challenges at one point or another on your gardening journey!

It is important to realize that the challenges you face will vary from year to year, so rather than putting up a constant fight (or worse – giving up altogether) you should plan to roll with the punches and embrace this variability as part of the wonder of the gardening experience!

This is often easier said than done when you are in tears over the death of your entire row of melons due to sudden wilt, or watching as your squash crop is done in by squash bugs before you’re even able to harvest. It’s okay to mourn the loss of one of your favorite crops once you’ve done all you can to save it, but just remember, there’s always next season!

Below are some tips for dealing with some of the most common garden challenges, from Joey and Holly Baird of the Wisconsin Vegetable Gardener Podcast:

  1. Pests, such as deer and rabbits—Use a fence for most; there are other options out there, but sometimes simply investing in a barrier is best for continued success.
  2. Weeds—Stay on top of weeding by doing a little each time you visit your garden. Sometimes you might just have to let it go a little, though, because life happens.
  3. Becoming overwhelmed—Gain an understanding of how to grow small, then start to work on a larger garden. And, by all means, grow what you know you will eat and use! If you don’t eat okra, then don’t grow it.
  4. Think outside of the garden bed—Maybe your grandparents and parents always grew in the ground, but that seems like a lot of work and commitment for you. That’s okay—there are many options out there, from containers to raised beds to straw bales, etc.
  5. Embrace your mistakes and failures—We still have failures. They happen, so learn from them and move on. We cannot grow cauliflower and broccoli, so, after a few years of failed attempts, we’ve let it go and now grow other things in that space.
  6. Build your soilSoil is the lifeblood of plants. We build our soil with organic matter, such as compost, leaves, coffee grounds, etc. Worms are what your soil needs, and adding organic matter to your soil will attract those worms naturally and encourage them to build their homes there.
Read More Tips from Joey & Holly at


Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

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