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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Kale sprouts disappearing Toplef10Kale sprouts disappearing 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Kale sprouts disappearing I22gcj10Kale sprouts disappearing 14dhcg10

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Kale sprouts disappearing

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Post  tiffanybrenner 4/3/2017, 10:25 am

Hi! I have my kale seedlings in a raised container - all the little seedlings sprouted well, but are disappearing. Something is munching them. I covered with bird netting so neither birds or snails can get to them. I'm guessing something in the dirt? Any thoughts on resolution?
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Post  BeetlesPerSqFt 4/3/2017, 1:33 pm

Go out at night with a flashlight and look to see if you maybe have slugs or sowbugs, or a "cutworm" caterpillar. They all hide in the dirt during the day (or outside the container and then crawl up and in at night to feed.)
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Post  tiffanybrenner 4/3/2017, 3:01 pm

Oh! Thank you! If its a cutworm do I just pluck it off or does that mean there are likely many more under the surface?
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Post  sanderson 4/3/2017, 3:18 pm

Tiffany, I think night visits to the garden are helpful. Armed with a flashlight (flip flops and bathroom), you can get a sense of slug/snail and other critter activity.

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Post  tiffanybrenner 4/3/2017, 3:28 pm

Got it! Sounds like a great job for my 11 year old son. I'll pay him a quarter for every Critter he plucks off. On second thought maybe that's a bad idea I could see him planting Critters in the garden on purpose
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Post  BeetlesPerSqFt 4/4/2017, 8:02 am

tiffanybrenner wrote:Oh! Thank you! If its a cutworm do I just pluck it off or does that mean there are likely many more under the surface?
Cutworms are pretty voracious, just one can eat a lot. There might be a second one, but I've never seen them congregate in a "many more" fashion. Tiny slugs and sowbugs tend to occur in higher numbers. You can also check to see what's been congregating underneath the bottom of the container. Not sure what kind of container it is, or where it is, but it's often dark and humid under containers. (Itty bitty white-gray-black bugs (like dot on an 'i' size) are probably springtails and nothing to worry about.)

Did you (or your son) check to see if anything was out and feeding last night?
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Post  tiffanybrenner 4/4/2017, 11:14 am

The container is several feet of the ground on cinder blocks. Nothing seems to be congregating on/around/under it. I did go out a few times last night - found nothing. But this morning every seedling is now gone, except one!
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Post  BeetlesPerSqFt 4/4/2017, 5:54 pm

tiffanybrenner wrote:The container is several feet of the ground on cinder blocks. Nothing seems to be congregating on/around/under it. I did go out  a few times last night - found nothing.  But this morning every seedling is now gone, except one!
Oh no! I  guess since there's just one left, I can suggest you investigate the top inch or so with your finger tips and see if you can uncover any caterpillars, slugs, or sowbugs.

Slugs often, but don't always, leave slime trails. My experience is that sowbugs nibble rather than taking whole plants -- but if there are a lot of them, things might be different. Cutworms often eat through the stem and sometimes (but don't always) leave the top and the 'stump.' Usually after eating, they bury themselves a little, but don't go too far. "Damping off", a fungal disease, can make it look like seedlings have disappeared, but if you look closely there's usually a shriveled husk left.

Is your netting several inches above the tops of the seedlings (i.e birds shouldn't be able reach through the holes with their little beaks)? I've heard mice will eat seedlings, but your scenario doesn't fit what I'd expect they'd eat and how.
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Post  tiffanybrenner 4/6/2017, 6:11 pm

Found at least one of the little buggers! Cabbage worm!
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Post  BeetlesPerSqFt 4/6/2017, 9:32 pm

Good! I guess you'll have to reseed -- now that you have netting in place, make sure it's a few inches away from the plants (but surrounding them on all sides) so that the cabbage butterfly can't come back and lay more eggs. If the netting is touching or less than, say, an inch from the leaves, she can stick her tail end through the holes in the netting and reach the leaves.
Actually, I should also ask, what size are the holes in the netting?
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Post  sanderson 4/7/2017, 2:57 am

Tiffany,  At least you know what was eating the kale so you can take preventive measures.  I should have thought about the white butterfly as you live in San Diego with year around gardening. thinking I use bridal tulle.  Others use a mesh fabric from JoAnn's. Kale sprouts disappearing Winter21

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Post  tiffanybrenner 4/7/2017, 11:42 am

My netting isn't touching the plants but is intended for birds. But way too big to protect from butterflies. I'll remedy that this weekend. Now my lettuce seedlings are being targeted! Thanks so much for helping me brainstorm! By the way, I had put dixie cups around the seedlings to help protect grom cutworms coming up. The cabbage worm got stuck on one & was hanging out yesterday morning. Hence how I figured it out!
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Post  sanderson 4/7/2017, 1:02 pm

Tiffany
I don't know if we have cutworms in CA. ?? UC Davis has this information so I guess we do have some. http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/r1300911.html

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Post  tiffanybrenner 4/7/2017, 5:17 pm

Thank you! Just picked up my touling from the craft store. Great idea!
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Post  sanderson 4/7/2017, 9:45 pm

Some of us check for 1/2 off coupons and rush over to the store! Embarassed

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Post  tiffanybrenner 4/7/2017, 9:48 pm

$1.99/square foot!
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Post  sanderson 4/8/2017, 8:25 pm

I hope you mean $1.99 per yard. Wink How wide is it?

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Post  CapeCoddess 4/9/2017, 6:38 am

sanderson wrote:I hope you mean $1.99 per yard.  Wink  
+1
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Post  tiffanybrenner 4/9/2017, 8:32 am

Oops! Yes! Per yard!
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Post  sanderson 4/9/2017, 6:15 pm

Razz Typing "Square foot" is kind of automatic on this Forum!

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Post  CapeCoddess 4/9/2017, 6:39 pm

sanderson wrote:Razz  Typing "Square foot" is kind of automatic on this Forum!
darn funny
True dat!
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