Broad bean disaster on plot #103

Yes, we’ve lost half our beans! This is the first year we’ve had a broad bean disaster since we moved onto the Weald site, and I’ve got to be honest, it’s the result of a certain kind of smugness.

You see, in previous years we’ve been very careful about planting our beans as we’ve had complete crop failures on previous allotment sites. We plant early, we protect our beans before they germinate and after they germinate, and we take care to protect the seedling plants from pigeons. But this year we got sloppy.

The beans themselves were planted by students who were taking a Grow and Tell class with me and every single one germinated! But this week we saw that the tops had been eaten off about half of the seedlings and broad beans don’t usually come back from that kind of denudation.

What did we do wrong? Well, this was the first year we didn’t scatter holly prunings around the broad beans and so either mice, rats or pigeons, but probably mice, have quietly got in under the fleece covering and chewed the tender top leaves off our six inch tall seedlings. Grrr!

So we’re into plan B – raising the replacement seedlings in the cold greenhouse. Now, once you get into providing rodent food on your allotment, you’ll tend to continue providing rodent food whether you want to or not, so we’re sowing the new broad beans into paper pots that have been gently daubed with dilute Jeyes Fluid. You can use dilute patchouli oil if you dislike Jeyes for environmental or other reasons. The dilution in both cases is around 1% to 99% water and you just paint a little dab on the outside of the bottom of each paper pot. The strong odour keeps away the rodents until the seed germinates, at which point digging it up is of no interest to the mouse or rat. They will still be interested in the top leaves though, so when we plant, we’ll be strewing holly liberally to make it difficult for them to get to the plants – you bet we will!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Anonymous Lottie Life said...

Good luck with the next lot. I lost all mine in the extreme cold last year so did not bother to plant early this year. Kicking myself now as the winter has been so much milder!

January 17, 2012 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Joanna said...

Out of curiosity would a chilli solution work? Or chilli powder

January 17, 2012 at 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Damo said...

Good luck second time around that's painstaking precautions to avoid the little critters!

January 17, 2012 at 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

I've read that first sentence at least ten times, and my bottom lip still wobbles a bit. Of all crops, your broad beans...

I've never had a problem with rats or mice. I've had them in the compost, which isn't nice because I've got a bit of a phobia, especially with rats, but never eating plants. Possums using hanging baskets with strawberries as hammocks is the worst of it for me.

Birds and white butterflies where we are now, though, are going to be a problem come summer, based on watching neighbouring gardens when we were building last summer.

January 18, 2012 at 2:20 AM  
Blogger The Liquineer said...

I have the opposite problem, my beans grew so weel that they are at least a foot tall and some nearl two feet tall- the weather was so mild until recently (Suffolk) that the frosts may have damaged the tall stems- they were fleeced, but time will tell- keeping fingers crossed!


January 18, 2012 at 2:35 AM  

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