One end of the garden doesn’t grow anything well

The northeast corner of my garden is cursed. My garlic was half the size at that end than at the other end of the rows some ten feet away.

My sweet potatoes are showing similar behavior, the plants at the end are notably smaller. White potatoes last year did not seem to mind it, however. The soil drains well and gets enough sun.

My soil is naturally acidic, so my guess is either I under-limes that area, or perhaps over-limed it.

Would you do a soil test in this situation? Since potatoes did ok, and they like acid soil, my guess is maybe the pH is still too low there.

Are there trees close by that area? If so it could be tree roots.


Actually, that’s the area farthest from any trees.

How far down have you dug there?

Maybe 18”?

my fathers garden had a place like that. it took him years to get it close to producing like the rest of the garden. soil was a lot lighter there for some reason.

So - no underlying stone or the like

How dark is the soil there and are there any earthworms? If there is no tree and tree shade maybe it needs more water?


It’s lighter in color than the rest of the garden.

Plenty of worms, no wetter or drier than anywhere else in the garden.

Have you amending the soil in that area? I’d also do
a soil test

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Well thats good, Earthworms are a decent sign of good life in the soil and it being lighter in the rest means it probably has less organic matter. I like the other suggestions of Ammending the soil and a soil test would be a good idea as well as digging deep and breaking up what i assume is clay and putting some organic material into the soil and seeing if you have any rocks or hard pan slowing you down? Also maybe wood chips or something to increase organic matter or hold more water on top would be good (not sure if you need that?) Maybe try some trees or perrennials near to keep some fungal and bacterial life going there.


It’s not clay, it’s loam with a lot of silica, same as the rest of the garden. Good call on low organic matter, I’ll start there.


This is very interesting to me. My garden has EXACTLY the same issue. In fact, when I plant a row of corn or Okra or other tall, straight things, you can stand at the side of the garden and clearly see the height of the plants- all planted at the same time- get shorter and shorter as they move from one end of my garden to the other end (about 130 feet). Like you, my tallest and healthiest plants are actually closer to trees, not further as you’d expect. So it isn’t roots or shade in my case either.

I can tell you that 2 years ago I had 2 loads of ground up trees (from a tree trimmer- with leaves and the woodchips both) dumped on top of that end and plowed it into the dirt and it hasn’t cured the problem but without doubt has improved it. SO the organic matter suggestion from @RichardRoundTree and @rayrose Might be the way to go.

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Soils generally vary a lot and often over short differences. Often it’s soil depth and thus water holding capacity that affects plant growth the most.

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My garlic was half the size at the one end this year.

Sweet potato vines are half as long as at the other end.

I think it’s all about organic matter. I’d suggest tons of compost, and, if you care to leave the area out of production, planting cover crops: clovers, ryes, buckwheat, and till them in with a little extra nitrogen to help them break down.

The way I had it explained to me is that, given adequate basic nutrients and pH, growing plants just keep depleting the organic matter. The soil structure itself is relatively constant, whether primarily clay or sand or whatever mix, with the pH determined by the dominant rock in a given area, and the organic matter that has been built up over time, and can be used up. The magic of humus and mycrorhizae can’t happen without carbonaceous stuff and so on.

Now I realize I’m dangerously close to rambling here, and most people here already know more about this than I do, so I’ll stop, and look forward to any corrections!


I decided to do a soil test to know for sure, along with a second test of the “better” end of the garden.

As I was preparing the samples, the first and most obvious thing to me was that the soil from the “good” part of the garden is much darker in color, having had more compost over the last few years. It’s also a bit less “cloddy” if that’s a word. More crumbly.

It’s deep. No shallow soils around here.

um, have you ever actually seen any of my posts? :wink: Your fine Mark, I’m the resident “rambling man” and not because I travel from place to place! haha