Vegetable Gardening FAQ
Something eating newly planted pumpkin seeds!
6/27/03 For the past 37 years we have been planting pumpkins on our farm here in Papillion, NE. We plant around five acres a year. It seems that we are running into more problems with something digging out and eating the seed when we plant and even when the seed has begun to sprout and even in the two-leaf stage. I am thinking maybe field mice or ground squirrels. What can we do to stop this problem? We end up replanting a lot and it gets costly. I have tried dry blood meal over the seed and it was in vain. I have tried poison grain and it was in vain. We will be planting here at the end of the week June 1, 03. Any feedback would be helpful. Someone told me that I should try soaking my seeds in garlic and spraying the rows with garlic. Thanks! Dale.
Greetings, Dale! Thanks for your question.
My best guess parallels yours — probably field mice,...maybe shrews, voles, other types of mice. Or perhaps a combination of those furry-ones.....and birds? — though it seems the poisoned grain should've solved that problem quick. They must've sensed or smelled the difference between the poison and their preferred food: cucurbit seeds.
Sounds a lot like all your predators are gone. Hawks, owls, coyote, fox, snakes, bobcats, raccoons, terrier-type dogs, and house cats (and occasional diseases) all join forces in an effort to keep Nature in balance. When predators move out, are discouraged, or are prevented access...the vermin move in.
So....The very first thing I'd do out there is to contact the Ag Dept at UNL (UNeb, Lincoln) and tell them you have a small crisis on your hands that involves economic loss. They may have come across this problem in your area and have an immediate solution. For starts, contact: Elbert C. Dickey, Dean and Director, Cooperative Extension Division, 211 Agricultural Hall, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE., USA 68583-0703; phone: 402/472-2966. or email: email@example.com.
Then I believe I'd make those seeds taste really, REALLY bad. I'm thinking Hot Pepper Wax in a 1:16 solution as a 3 or 4-minute dip (not a "soak" -- that would stimulate the first stages of germination)...then spread them out on a screen to air dry. Do that the evening before planting...and be careful not to rub your eyes, dig at your nose, or touch very sensitive skin areas with hands that have residue on them <grin>.
And come to think of it, adding some garlic to the mix could only increase its effectiveness. And a good, strong solution of garlic with a little hot pepper wax and Safer's Soap (in a backpack sprayer) after sowing will only reinforce the effect. A short squirt at each hill or sowing site. Maybe one of the kids could follow the sower?
Then I think I'd concentrate on dealing with the rodent problem.
You may find the pepper wax at your local farm supply...if not, Johnny's sells it and can ship immediately (call today and you could have it Monday or Tuesday) 207-861-3901. Ask for #9362 Hot Pepper Wax (a pint is about $17 plus shipping, and makes 2 gallons of solution). They also have Garlic Barrier OG (it's organic, if that interests you)...#9358. While you're there ask for a Commercial Catalog.
You can see both of those products at their site: www.johnnyseeds.com — just type the product number into the "Item Number" box on the left.
Green Beans Spread Disease?
7/7/03 I have heard that they [green beans] can spread disease to other vegetables [no salutation, name, or location].
Really?! In 60 years of gardening (16 of that as a nurseryman and consultant) I seemed to have missed that one. Don't believe everything you hear. And if you maintain top-rate soil health and nutrition, and practice clean-cultivation and responsible garden sanitation, you'll never need to concern yourself with your beans -- or anything else for that matter -- spreading diseases to other veggies (except the tobacco residue your smoking friends/visitors carry on their clothes and shoes). Cheers! Fred
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