Up for a Gardening Challenge? Try Growing These 9 Vegetables That Require Special Maintenance and Care


There are many vegetables including lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers that are easy to grow. There are other vegetables that are challenging for even experienced gardeners to grow. Here are the nine hardest vegetables to grow.


Cauliflower can be difficult to grow. Most varieties require a long growing season with temperatures in the sixties. Even when planted from seedlings, cauliflower takes about 80 days to mature. If it gets too hot, it will form little heads, called buttons, instead of forming large whiteheads. On the other hand, cauliflower will not withstand freezing temperatures. It also needs soil that has a pH balance between 6.5 and 6.8. Keeping the head white while it is growing can also be challenging. When the head of cauliflower is about three inches in diameter, then pull the leaves up over the entire head holding them in place with a rubber band until the head turns completely white.

2. Celery

Celery is another vegetable that can be very difficult to grow. Like cauliflower, part of the problem is caused by this vegetables long growing season that averages 135, and it needs cool weather during that entire period without getting frozen. It must stay wet at all times. If it dries out, then the celery becomes bitter and stringy. Celery cannot handle the heat but needs at least six hours of sun each day. Therefore, it may be necessary to place a sun cover over your celery. Many gardeners choose to blanch their celery. The best method for blanching is to build a mound of dirt over the celery. Then, add more dirt every day as the celery grows to keep it completely covered.

3. Corn

Corn can be difficult to grow because it is wind pollinated. In order to grow corn, you need to plant at least 15 plants in a square formation. Then, the wind can blow the pollen off the corn tassels to fertilize plants near it. One of the reasons that corn can be difficult to grow is the vast amount of wildlife that finds corn delicious. Surrounding your corn with two or three rows of squash can help protect it from some wildlife. Corn requires soil that is high in nitrogen, so make sure to test your soil and add fertilizer before direct sowing corn seeds in the early spring.

4. Eggplant

If you are thinking of growing eggplant in your garden, then you need to be aware that this vegetable can be challenging to grow. One of the reasons that eggplants are hard to grow is that they demand lots of nutrients. In order to take care of this, side dress them with nutrient-rich soil two or three times during the growing season. The plant often breaks when the eggplant is just about ripe from its weight. Stop this problem by tying it to a lathe driven into the ground or put it in a tomato cage. Insects often eat holes in eggplants. Potato beetles and grasshoppers can be a problem, so treat as soon as you notice them to minimize damage.

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5. Head Lettuce

Head lettuce, like iceberg, can be challenging to grow because if it gets too much sun it will bolt. This process of putting on seeds too early can cause the head to have a strong taste. This cold-weather crop cannot handle temperatures greater than 70 degrees. It is best to start them in pots inside before transplanting to the garden. Get out a ruler because if you do not leave enough room between plants, they will not produce a head. Most varieties should be placed 10 inches apart in rows that are placed 18 inches apart. If you notice your lettuce is growing too close together, then pull one up allowing the other can develop properly.

6. Carrots

Carrots are very picky about the type of soil that they grow in. The soil should be free of any debris, like rocks, or the carrot will grow up around them making them look ugly when harvested. Most varieties need at least six inches of the tilled ground. Humus is their preferred growing medium. If your soil has too much clay, try growing them in raised beds. Another problem with carrots is that their green tops are attractive to a number of animals with rabbits often eating off the tops before they are ready to harvest. Consider placing chicken wire over the carrots to stop rabbits from feasting on them.

7. Broccoli

Broccoli can be a difficult vegetable to grow because it requires cool temperatures at the end of its growing cycle to produce big heads. Make sure to test your soil before planting this crop six to eight weeks before your first hard freeze as it likes a neutral soil. If you have acidic soil, mix some oyster shell into the top two or three inches of soil. This vegetable must have at least one inch of water each week, so if it does not rain, then you need to make sure to water it. Consider avoiding those varieties that have giant heads because their growing season is much longer.

8. Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts have a long growing season. If these plants do not become properly anchored when they are young, then they can topple over as they mature. These plants also require a lot of organic matter mixed into the soil. Harvesting your Brussel sprouts before they are ready can make them have a bland taste. Check the number of days to harvest on choices you are considering so that they will be maturing as cold weather is setting into your region.

9. Onions

While green onions are relatively easy to grow from sets, bulb onions are much more difficult. They can take up to 175 days to mature depending on the type chosen, so you may want to think about starting them inside. Many varieties require up to 18 hours of sunlight to produce a medium to large bulbs. Onions need a lot of fertilizer when they are planted and again about a month later. They must be kept consistently moist throughout the growing season. Growing onions in a vertical garden can be an answer.

Use these gardening tips to prove that you can master these nine hardest to grow vegetables. The reward will taste great on your dinner table.

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  1. We’ve found that growing brussel sprouts is a real chore but I guess it depends on your soil. Plus we can’t get our kids to eat them.

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