Someone's been munching on my sunflower sprouts!
I immediately Googled which unwanted guests might be coming to dinner...
According to my research, it turns out sunflower sprouts and leaves, along with pea sprouts, are like the candy of the insect world -and the culprits could range from beetles, caterpillars and lacewings to snails with a sweet tooth -and beyond.
I discovered frustrated gardeners commiserating about the many ways sunflowers don't live to see their full potential: deer were a popular predator, as were possum, birds, bugs, rats and even squirrels. One woman recounted the time she saw a squirrel working beaver-like at the bottom of a large sunflower stalk, when he felled the flower he took the whole thing in his mouth and ran off. The nerve!
For now, however, I am going to worry about one pest at a time.
On the Helpful Gardener Forum, one reader shared her secret for thwarting hungry bugs. She cut the bottom off plastic bottles and created little fortresses around the sprouts. She reported success: her sprout was intact the next morning.
I decided to do the same.
I rummaged through my recycling bin and got to work. In order to cut the bottoms off of the bottles I had to use my sharpest garden pruners to get started, then I used large scissors to finish cutting all the way around.
Many gardeners also advised sneaking up on the sprouts at night with a flash light and catching the perpetrators in the act.
I covered all the sprouts with their private greenhouses, although some had to double up inside lemonade containers, and then covered the bottles with a lightweight dish cloth. I might be getting just the teensiest bit neurotic... (getting you say?)
I am concerned I won't be able to leave the bottles over the sprouts during the day since it has been so hot here (* North East friends, I am not complaining!) - but I am going to see what happens.
Anyone out there have other ideas for keeping bugs at bay? Please share in the comments below!
In other news...the foxglove have finally joined the party! Can you see the little green specks? It's amazing these grow into such large plants!