Vegetable Diary June: Veggie Disasters – S.O.S

Here we are in June and I feel rather despondent. Even my inbuilt tenacity is beginning to wane. Why?, my pigging vegetables just won’t grow! My motto has always been “If at first you don’t succeed try and try again“. Yes, I’m trying

I’ve read several interesting posts on growing vegetables recently by fellow bloggers Enjoy Creating and Hortophile All their healthy vegetables look amazing; I then surveyed my pathetic offerings…

Maybe the problems stem from the fact I am close to the sea so we experience high humidity and salt winds. I just don’t know.

However, I remain optimistic despite my current “Veggie Disasters”
Yes, I will have a bumper crop of zucchini, squash, garlic etc if I persist.

My solitary cucumber struggles to grow. What a strange shape and it’s so prickly!

My solitary cucumber fights for life
My solitary cucumber fights for life

My lettuce has run away and is now over two feet tall! I wonder if I can save the seeds?

My lettuces are now over two foot tall!
My lettuces are now over two foot tall!

The garlic I’d been carefully nurturing since the end of last year has also given up. The leaves have died off and as I removed the earth round the garlic heads to see how they were progressing I realised they have not fully formed. I wonder if I left them would they continue to grow or will they just rot?

Garlic dies off but has not grown
Garlic dies off but has not grown

Zucchini start off well – there are no shortage of flowers. There are plenty of bees since planting lavender and herbs close by – so pollination is not the problem.

Zucchini start off well
Zucchini start off well

They grow so big and then start to rot.

Zucchini rotting as they grow
Zucchini rotting as they grow

I was also looking forward to eating home-grown squash, but seems they have also fallen victim to the dreaded mold. They also seem a little soft when squeezed – is this normal?

My Squash plants- I wonder if they will survive?
My Squash plants I wonder if they will survive?
Rotting zucchini and now my baby squash
Rotting zucchini and now my baby squash

Enjoy Creating referred me to what an informative website! This may be the answer to my problem!

Unfortunately, it’s taken me several weeks to track down the product, but I am pleased to say I have finally identified Hydrogen Peroxide in Portugal (I hope) as – “Água Oxigenada” and at just 39cents for 500ml a bargain!. I assume 10 volumes means 10% so I will need to dilute before spraying the plants to get rid of the mold. I assume as you can also clean your teeth with it that it is not poisonous when diluted correctly. Never assume! I am always nervous when I am unable to understand the instructions!

Agua Oxigenada - maybe a miracle cure?
Agua Oxigenada - maybe a miracle cure?

On a positive note my strawberries are growing well and are absolutely delicious. Cherry Tomatoes are just beginning to go red, as are the chilli peppers. Spring onions are growing (slowly) and the red cabbage – well we will see if we get to eat them before the bugs. The Rhubarb is still thriving (for now) in a large pot. I have one orange pepper two lemons, several jalapeno seedlings and a partridge in a pear tree.

Please share your successes and failures and/or any further gardening advice other than not to quit my day job and become a gardener

I could do with cheering up!

Related posts: Growing Fruit and Vegetables in Portugal: May
Growing Fruit and Veg in Pots and Plot: April
Piglet’s Gardening Diary: Seeds, Vegetables, Pots and Plot – February 2011


46 thoughts on “Vegetable Diary June: Veggie Disasters – S.O.S

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  1. HI PiP,
    It has been a long since the last post, anyway I have had the same issues with the zucchini for years, because…. my soil was not good enough for them.

    What I would recommend is not to add any chemicals on your plants/soil, but think what the zucchini plant would need. Typically it needs compost and aerated soil (which you can improve by adding different elements such as sand, chipped wood, etc..)

    Then you need to protect your soil from the sun (with mulch) and at the same time you will help to create a micro environment that will be highly benficial to your plants.

    Same conclusion for the pots : the soil needs to be aerated enough so the water can go through it. And the pot needs to be large enough as well.

    I hope I could help a little, but I was so frustrated when spending so much time and effort for medium results.. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the reply PiP — will try asking for the chemical name rather than the common. Re tomatoes — so far I’ve only planted cherry toms and those ‘bull heart’ ones (I think πŸ˜‰ I bought the seedlings a few weeks ago from the market and kept them going inside until last week as we have had so much rain and cold that I didn’t think that they would survive. I’ve planted them with some peas and favas to give them a bit of a nitrogen boost and will also put some basil and corn in with them as soon as the seedlings are big enough. Also going to plant that NZ spinach on a bank along our drive-way — the only thing it seems to grow well is weeds, so perhaps the spinach will like it there. We have the opposite problem from you — so much land that we are a little overwhelmed by it all so things that take up lots of space really aren’t a problem.

    I HAVE read your more recent posts — this was the first post I read because i was searching for Epsom Salts in Portugal on google πŸ˜‰ — but I have been reading my way through your blog with a great deal of enjoyment. I must say I am a bit envious of your favas — they are huge! BTW you can eat those pinched-out tops as a salad vegetable — quite delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi – I’m a recent arrival in Central Portugal — trying to get a vegie patch going and struggling with finding the things that I used in Australia — particularly epsom salts. Did you have any luck buying it here, or did you end up going to amazon? You could try planting your zucchinis/squashes with crushed up eggshells underneath to help supply them with calcium. Great tip re the hydrogen peroxide btw — it is great for getting gunk off stainless steel when mixed with bicarb, so just what I need to attack our woodstove with πŸ˜‰


    1. Hi Shiralee and welcome,

      To be honest for your first year I’d look around the local markets and see what is on sale. Look in the fields at your local farmers crops or go the the local co operative.
      Really easy options are cabbage, lettuce, kale, tomates, strawberries, squash, cucumber, raddish, spinach and french beans, carrots oh and zucchini (but I can’t seem to grow Z by the sea).

      Good luck and please keep in touch πŸ™‚


      1. Thanks for your reply PiP — that’s great advice and I’m following it — I’ve got lettuce, fava, peas, strawberries, radishes and garlic all doing well, and have just planted some capsicum, zucchini and tomatoes as well as a bunch of herbs and salad greens like rocket, sorrel and mustard. The spinach seedlings died a slow death but some tiny new kale seedlings seem to be thriving despite the huge amount of rain we’ve had over the last few weeks. However, I would really like to get some epsom salts for the tomatoes and so forth — so would be really appreciative of any hints as to what it is called and where you got it. Our local town’s agriculture coop is great for all sorts of things, but they really haven’t embraced organic remedies πŸ˜‰

        BTW one thing that you might find works in the south is NZ spinach (tetragonia) — it grows on sandy soils and is very heat and dry tolerant and you can keep picking it all summer long — I got some seeds sent over only to discover that it’s grown commonly around here already ;-P


        1. Hi Shiralee, I am not sure if you can buy Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulphate) here. I brought some back from the UK, but I am going to take it to show our local pharmacy and ask. It’s pretty common stuff. I’ve tried the New Zealand spinach you are right it is pretty robust, but it took up quite a lot of space. Someone suggested perpetual spinach which is English. I’ve planted some tiny seedlings but not sure if they will survive. Probably should have planted them in the Autum as vey hot in the summer. As you say the other type is more robust. What type of tomatoes are you growing?

          . HAve you read my more recent posts about my veg patch


  4. Hi , I hope you already have found the reason for such bad luck with the vegies. I really do not know much about them. I dont seem to have much bad luck with mine. I think is because the soil in Toronto is good not because I am an expert on the matter! πŸ™‚


  5. Let us know if the hydrogen peroxide helps… I think the conditions you mentioned are the culprits creating the mold… Good luck with the corrective plan. πŸ™‚


  6. Sorry about your Blossom End Rot, oh Red-Thumbed One, but it sounds like you got a lot of really helpful advice. I like red fruit and vegetables and can offer a nice bottle of Chilean red wine to accompany them. What time’s dinner?


    1. Hi Thorny Rose,

      Hmmmmmmmmmm a nice glass of Chilean wine sounds just the ticket! It would be great to have a “virtual dinner party”

      Have I added your name to my blogroll OK? I see you’ve posted under your wordpres account – did you also have problems posting a comment on my blog?


  7. PiP, I’m sorry to hear about your struggles and join in saying, DON’T GIVE UP! Because I’m still working on my new place and didn’t want to invest time and energy planting a veggie garden in my current place, I’m having to enjoy other people’s gardening successes and challenges this year. So, thanks for sharing yours! It does sound like you’ve got some wonderful harvest for your table, despite the losses. I’d like to share a piece of information that’s new to me and, for reasons just stated, I don’t have experience with it. However, being anxious to at least prepare the soil (for a veggie garden) at my new place, I decided to look into buying a tiller. I called a woman who had advertised her tiller for sale and she, in effect, talked me out of buying it. When I told her I was an organic gardener, she said that she had completely changed her way of gardening a few years ago when she heard about new research that indicates that the soil should be as undisturbed as possible when planting. She says there are microorganisms, including fungi, that live in the soil that act, essentially, as messengers (or errand boys!), bringing nutrients to the plants. So, there are products (again, I’ve not researched this) that assist in building up these microorganisms in the soil. Here is a link to one website that offers some information. I just googled “beneficial fungi for the soil” and got some results. Good luck. And don’t loose faith in your green thumb!


    1. Thanks Ellen,

      I was just wondering where the link was πŸ™‚ Thanks I will check it out πŸ™‚

      Challenges not failures I like that! πŸ™‚ My plot is a raised bed and all the compost and manure is only new this year. Perhaps its just taking time to settle. The soil maybe new but I have an insect population the size of New York moved in there already. I dig in green manure on the earth I’m not cultivating at the moment ready for the winter crop.



  8. Hello.You did a great job.Of course the fruits is sometimes good, the other time isn’t good.
    I don’t think all of my vegetable I planted will grow well because they are natural.
    I appreciate my (vegetable) fruits every year even if I can get only a few vegetables. πŸ™‚


    1. thx Cocomino my veg are certainly natural I have not put any chemicals on them, but will now have to resort to some type of “medicine”
      Good luck with your veg and hope you have a good crop this year


  9. Hi EC,
    I am going to put the poor cucumber out of its misery and pick it. I need to buy some different seeds. Talking of peaches someone has just given me some baby peach trees no doubt these will be added to my gallery of doom! πŸ™‚

    Your garden is great and your veg look so healthy…your pics and blog are an inspiration!

    πŸ™‚ PiP


    1. My garden has suffered some causalities due to the storms here lately, I’m having to replant some of the squash and cucumbers and sunflowers.
      I wish you the best with your garden. I read in your upper comment about epsom’s salt, that sounds like a good idea. Also, I’ve read that a person can use crushed up ‘Tums’ in water and pour around a plant and it can help add calcium to the soil.
      I’m always happy to learn safe methods.
      I look forward to progress reports on your peach trees, I hope they do great.

      Don’t be so gloomy. I think you’re just getting started and you’ll do better and better with time. πŸ™‚
      I think you should keep notes and write a book for folks moving to your region so they’ll know how gardens too. That would be cool. πŸ™‚


      1. Hi EC I felt sad for you when I read about the casualites due to the storms. You’re right I did feel gloomy but as I uploaded my photos and started to write the post I started to laugh at myself and I felt better. I had the same problem with courgettes last year and no one could really come up with a solution. I have certainly had some great ideas this time round.

        I do keep a hit and mis-notebook I must keep it more up-to-date! My blog is also a record πŸ™‚

        I am now off to google tums πŸ™‚


  10. Well shucks, Pip, seems like you garden is having a bit of difficulty. I hate to hear it. 😦

    I agree with the other commenters that your squash has bottom end rot. They’ve given you some good suggestions to help you search out a remedy that may work.

    I don’t know anything about growing garlic or lettuce. So I can’t help you there.

    I ran a search and read up on why cucumbers-vines may have yellow leaves. As I understand it, if the vine doesn’t have pests then it may be getting too much or too little water.
    I think your cucumber is almost passed it’s prime. I don’t think it’ll get any longer. It looks like it may be the variety of cucumber that we grow for pickling. They don’t get too terribly long and yep they’re prickly, but with a careful wipe with a cloth the prickles usually come off fairly easy. If I were you, I’d pick the cucumber. Picking it may even help the vine to grow since it’s energy won’t be spent on feeding the cucumber.

    It’s possible, you may need to replant, if you have a couple more months of growing season left.

    I’m happy to hear that your other veggies and fruits are doing well.
    I agree with Nrhatch: “Maybe you have a RED thumb instead of a GREEN thumb?” I like that. lol

    Let me know how the peroxide works out. I hope it works as well as the website promotes it as being able to do.

    You’re doing a good job. Just don’t give up Pip. Gardening is a continuing learning process. I’ve been gardening all my life and I’m still learning new stuff all the time.

    You’re a peach to give me such great pr. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it. πŸ™‚
    Wishing you the best of luck in getting your gardening issues resolved.


  11. I think the problem you have with your zucchini and squash is called Blossom End Rot, which is caused by a lack of calcium in the developing fruit.
    So either the plant isn’t absorbing enough calcium from the soil, or the soil doesn’t have enough calcium in it to start with.
    Buy a PH soil test kit and test your soil so see if it is lacking in calcium. If this is the case, you need to get some lime, which supplies calcium as well as Magnesium to your soil. It also increases the microbial activity necessary to break down nitrogen into ammonium for absorption by your plant’s roots.

    If the test shows the soil is okay, then you can increase nutrient uptake to the roots of the plant by mulching and adding compost/organic matter to your soil (sheep, poultry, cattle or pork manure has the best carbon to nitrogen ratio), and by watering well.

    Hope this helps.


    1. Hi Barb,

      That’s great thanks! I’ve looked up blossom end rot and this may be my problem.

      I researched on the internet and found…
      I will make a note here because I am bound to lose the scrap of paper I’ve written it on
      Cure for Blossom End Rot.
      Add one or twe teaspoons of Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) to the soild when planiting.
      Once plants begin to flower add 1 tbsp of epsom salts to one gallon of water and water the plants liverally. Repeat again in a months time. I just have to find some epsom salts in Portugal now πŸ™‚

      The soild has plenty fo shredded horse manure and compost as it was a raised bed and I filled with the earth from scratch.

      Thanks so much Barb,

      I will report back and let you know how I got on!



  12. Hmm . . . the GREEN stuff is dying: Cucumber, Garlic, Zucchini, and Lettuce.

    And the RED stuff is thriving: Strawberries, Cherry Tomatoes, Chilli peppers, Red Cabbage, Rhubarb.

    Maybe you have a RED thumb instead of a GREEN thumb? πŸ˜‰

    Lettuce bolts when it gets too hot. Plant more in early fall. I’ve had Blossom End Rot affect zucchini now and then. Didn’t know Hydrogen Peroxide would help. It is safe to gargle with . . . and cheap!

    Good luck!


    1. Hi NR,

      RED thumb…I like that! Funny you should say about the lettuce, its been hot here. And they grow in the full sun. Maybe i will grow them in a more shady are…

      I am going to try the HP first as I now have that. Then I am going on a mission to find Epsom salts! I need to research the Portuguese. It’s never just as simple to want something and then go and buy it. THis is when I become so frustrated re language barrier. Still I keep trya nd learning…that’s all one can do

      We will see


  13. PiP, sorry I have to say I felt a little humor regarding your veggie garden πŸ™‚

    I have never been able to have a healthy house plant, let along a veggie garden-as I’m sure all my veggies would look just like the ones in your photos- I guess its true about having a green-thumb ! because I certainly do not have the pleasure of having one. I really love plants and growing veggies !


  14. PiP,
    I am so sorry about your garden. I was so excited to see what became of what you planted, but this is not what I had imagined. I can offer no suggestions because I’m a veggie eater, not a grower! I hope the peroxide remedies the horror, but if not you still have your red fruits, tomatoes and strawberries to enjoy. xo


  15. So sorry to see about your bad luck with the veggies! I hope things will turn around for the better soon!
    On a good note, I just saw your daughter’s new post with the pic of your beautiful grand-daughter! That’s definitely something to smile about! πŸ™‚


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