Diagnosing Problems in Your Garden Soil

Living color garden center-Florida-Diagnosing Problems in Your Garden Soil-roots of grass

Healthy soil means a healthy garden, but what do you do when your soil isn’t doing so great? There are numerous factors to consider when identifying soil problems in your garden. This blog discusses some symptoms of garden soil issues and how to resolve them!

Soil-Borne Garden Problems: Signs and Symptoms 

Gardeners can determine if a soilborne pathogen made a plant sick by observing symptoms in a plant.

Keep an eye out for the following issues to indicate if your soil needs work: 

  • Roots that have become dark, soft, and rotten
  • Infected crowns with discoloration and rot
  • Stem and root tissue discoloration 
  • Leaf wilting, shoot wilting, and flower wilting
  • The loss of leaves 
  • A slowed growth rate
  • Flowers or fruits decreasing in number

While these symptoms can come from other causes, keeping soil health on your list of things to eliminate as a possible cause is a good start! 

Living color garden center-Florida-Diagnosing Problems in Your Garden Soil-soil sample

How to Determine If Your Soil Is Healthy

Your soil provides nutrients to plants, but how do you know if your soil is in good shape or what nutrients it may be lacking? You can test this in a few ways.

Get a Soil Test

You can determine your garden soil’s acidity by performing a soil test. The test assesses your soil’s basic texture (sand, silt, or clay) and pH. The best time to sample your soil is in the fall, but you can test at any time of year. However, getting your results in the fall allows you to fix any issues before spring hits! 

DIY Testing

While nothing compares to a lab test for your soil, you can still determine its overall health by looking at a few different factors. Take a sample of soil straight down and look for the following: 

  • soil composition in terms of loamy soil, sand, and clay
  • presence of earthworms and healthy life
  • presence of fungus or rot
Living color garden center - florida - ph scale

You can also compare the growth of plants in different parts of your garden. For example, if your raised bed isn’t producing great crops, but your garden bed alongside the house and your containers are doing fine, then you might need to improve the health of your raised bed soil!

Common Diseases

Here is a brief of some common diseases you might find in your soil. 

Crown and Root Rot

Root rot is caused by over-saturated soil, which can promote fungal growth. If you spot root rot, the first step is to determine whether the plant and soil are recoverable; you cannot save the plant if the roots have already become mushy. You can, however, replant it in fresh soil with good drainage if you find some healthy, white, firm roots. To avoid root rot, use well-draining soil and refrain from overwatering; this also helps reduce water usage in the garden!

Living color garden center-Florida-Diagnosing Problems in Your Garden Soil-moldy soil

White Mold, Southern Blight, and Sclerotial Fungi

White mold or southern blight might cause plant tops to collapse slowly. In addition to affecting more than 500 species of plants, southern blight can also affect juvenile trees and bushes. Several vegetables and fruits are susceptible to sclerotia, including tomato, pepper, onion, beet, rhubarb, strawberry, lettuce, cucumber, melon, carrot, asparagus, and parsley. If you notice these issues, dispose of your plants to protect the rest of your crops and replace the soil with healthy, fresh soil.

Vascular Wilt 

Garden plants lacking water or nutrients may suffer from vascular wilt caused by fungal pathogens in your soil, like fusarium and verticillium. In addition to the discolored tissues, brown or black streaks will be inside the vascular tissue near the roots and main stem. Your plant likely won’t recover if it stops growing from fungal wilt, so it is best to remove the plant and prevent the spreading of disease amongst your crops. 

If you notice any issues beyond the ones listed above in your garden, visit us at Living Color Garden Center in Fort Lauderdale to solve your soil problems today! We’re happy to help ensure that your garden soil is healthy for a thriving garden. 

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