What a strange growing season this has been! I couldn't believe it at first but after several attempts at sowing peas, beans and grains (those previously "easy" crops) and only having a few seedlings I started checking my newly sown seeds every day. They just disappear! E.g. French beans: the soaked seeds (I sow three rows about 7 m long each) had almost completely disappeared one day after sowing! The few seeds that were still there had small holes in them, they looked like "worm holes" but no worm or any other creature was in them.
What could it be? I haven't had this problem before. I suspected slugs and tried sowing peas so that I spread dry calcium powder (builder's calcium) around the row and this increased the success rate slightly but still it wasn't anything like in previous years. Previously nearly every pea seed germinated, now maybe one in three.
I tried sowing in many different places: in my garden, in a paddock and in an degraded field (the one I've talked about before, where not much anything grows). Same thing happens no matter where I sow the seeds.
However, the pest, whatever it is, clearly does NOT like horse beans (cattle beans). I've broadcasted them on the surface of the degraded field and just covered them lightly with straw as much as I could. The horse beans germinated or if they didn't they just dried (where I didn't cover them at all) but they are still there and no one wants them! But French beans were eaten from 5 cm under the surface. I just don't get it! Do slugs go that deep in the soil? I do not see any traces or foot prints etc. on the surface of the soil and the rows look very level and undisturbed, so I don't think it could be a crow or a mole.
Finland is not an area I should be pretending to know. However, nematodes are everywhere and that is a possibility.
I have had bean vines wither up this year but usually the problem is after they are going great guns and suddenly die.
Postmortem examinations revealed some attachments to the roots that were gooey when crushed and some very small
holes in the underground portion of the stem.
We are also having a rather strange and frustrating season, firstly I grew over 50,broccoli,cauliflower and cabbage plants, they all reached the beginings of getting their third leaf and I left them uncovered for only half a day ( I had them covered with fleece to keep cabbage fly away) I came back to cover them and they were covered with little black insects eating them! they had turned them into skeletons....... gggrrrrr.
I have planted more seeds and this time they will remain covered........
Also something is eating my beans! they have just gotthen their first two leaves, but not for long! they have also been eaten. Once again I have planted a whole lot more seeds so I hope they will survive.
Last year we were stuggling through lack of rain and crazy high temeratures, this year we have had rain but the pest numbers are way up, although I have noticed a larger number of ladybirds around, which is amvery good sign.
Onions, carrots, potatoes, strawberries sweetcorn beetroot and squashes seem to be doing great, so all is not lost.
On a good note our regular Corncrake is back, he is spending most of his time " crakeing" patroling his area. He loves the fields infront of the house, they are both pretty much natural meadow.
All our growing areas get a good cover of mulch, its usually well composted sheep,and chicken manure.
Goog luck with the growing Nina.
Greetings from Savonlinna.
Thank you Alex! Nematodes... I wouldn't have thought of them. Will search for for info about them and see if I can detect them. If I can find them there is probably a lot of them
Nicola, great to hear from you again! How similar your successes and failures are to mine, it's amazing. My list of successes this year is exactly the same minus the carrots which germinated very poorly this year but I think that was not due to pests but lack of watering. I got overly ambitious and planted too many seeds and then didn't have the time to water them all every day for those long 14 days...
I think the little black insects you describe are called kirppa in Finnish (flea beetle in English?) and I've had big problems because of them, every year. To the point that I've almost given up growing any brassica at all. For the last two summers (very dry summers in Finland) there has been so many of them that even covering hasn't helped, they've somehow managed to find their way under the covers no matter how carefully I tried to weigh the covers down with stones and despite the fact that the covers were there all the time from the moment I planted the seeds... Kirppas don't like moist weather so this year I've managed to grow say ten seedlings of kohlrabi and four seedlings of broccoli.
There seem to be two methods that work agains kirppas. If you plant the seeds outdoors you have to do so very early (in April), in cold or preferably hot frame so the seedlings are big enough when the kirppas come. Kirppas first appeared in the middle of May on our farm this year. The other method is to grow the seedligs in a greenhouse or indoors until they are very strong, big plants and plant them out then. On our farm it is pretty much hopeless to try and plant brassica in rows because of kirppas and also cabbage flies who finish whatever is left from the kirppas.
I have managed to grow a few kohlrabis and maybe one or two broccolis when I hide a few strong seedlings in the orchard. (Then I only have to hope the goats don't escape to the orchard and eat them, like last year ) This year it looks like I might also be able to get some to survive in my tomato bed on a south facing wall.
Growing larger numbers of brassica seems impossible because if I try to plant more than a few in the orchard, they are found by kirppas and eaten to skeletons. I've tried every organicspray, ash, etc. I've heard of and nothing works. The only thing that helps is if it rains every day.