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in Problem solving
I sowed a few winter spinach in October and they have germinated and the seedings are now about 2 inches high but every morning I find 2 or three of the seedlings lying flat on the seedbed just cropped off at soil level. The tops are not being eaten, just left lying as they fall. I've tried lifting and sifting the soil under the seedlings to a depth of around 3 inches but haven't found anything. The plants are in a cold-frame with hinged glazed lids. Does anyone know what might be causing this? I've added a pic below taken a few minutes ago: the seedling on the right is one that has been cropped last night.
Are they being pulled up?
No, they are being eaten (cropped) off at soil level as though something is eating the roots.
Could it be baby slugs eating the tender part and then moving on? The base of the "stalk" looks like it's been munched.
No it's not slugs! - I have just discovered the culprit - Looking at the seedlings a few minutes ago I notice the one on the left of the pic in my 1st post had fallen over so I quickly got a small trowel and lifted all the soil around it into a 2 litre bucket - and there in the soil was the offending critter (below)!
Yup! - Vine weevil grubs!
Now then, can someone advise the most effective way of getting rid of these pests without harming the crop? Pleeeeeeeze!
Nematodes but I'm not sure what soil temperature they need to work
Steinernema kraussei nematodes need over 5 deg C for two weeks to be effective. I think you're too late this year. Insecticides can't be used on edible crops either. Sorry - you'll need to wait until spring.
I found a site still selling nematodes and decided to give it a try. Aware that the nematodes stop breeding at this time of year I didn't expect much but thought I'd give it a try. Bought a soil warming cable on ebay and carefully installed it, then used the Nemasys as directed on the packet. That was just over a week ago and there has been a rapid decrease in the no of plants damaged to almost nothing now so it does seem to have worked.
Where there's a will there's a way!!!