Poor Veg Garden


I wrote last year concerning very poor harvest – literally a few tomatoes and zucchini and 75% of tomato plants died with a month. The answer suggested I may have planted too early and not watered enough. However, I have the same problem this year. I have been vegetable gardening all my life. Garden is in Thornhill, south facing, backing against a fence. I add 4 bags of sheep or cow manure, rotate crops yearly and water well. What I notice now are 1) few bees(!) and 2) my neighbour’s tree blocks 80% of the sun I used to received. We had an arborist prune tree limbs reaching into our yard but it didn’t help. My neighbor to the west plants vegetables beneath our mutual fence and receives afternoon sun. His harvest is good. After 24 years with this garden and all the yearly work, can there be hope of more than 6 tomatoes, 2 zucchini and 2 eggplant or should I stop fighting this new environment and just buy those 3′ tall potted plants for my deck?? Thank you in advance for your advice.



Sounds like you have already figured out the problem. I get the impression that your garden is not getting enough sunshine. The Ontario ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs states that you do need at least 6.5 hours of sunshine preferably in the warmer time of the day and suggests that you plant away from big trees as large trees can rob your garden of nutrients and water. There is a link below that you can click on to go to the ministry’s website, if you wish.

If the problem is the amount of sunshine then you may want to consider changing the types of crops that you grow in your garden. There are crops that will grow in part shade. Lorraine Johnson lists a few in her book City Farmer:  arugula, beets, kale, lettuce, parsnips, spinach radishes, garlic, peas, parsley and rhubarb. Hopefully there are some things in this list that will appeal to you. Just think, you could increase your harvest by having those large potted plants on your sunny deck and some new additions in the now part-shady garden!

I’m sure you probably know what you are doing since you have been gardening for 24 years and the only tip I can think of other than changing the crops you grow would concern the application of the manure.  Your veggies may be happier if you  apply the manure in the fall or a few weeks in advance of planting to allow the soil to absorb it as manure may sometimes burn roots if not composted well enough.

I wish you all the best in your gardening adventures!