Where are my seedlings?

devra(Hawaii 11)September 19, 2004

Can someone please help me solve the mystery of the disappearing seedlings?

I live on Molokai, where until recently I've been able to grow organic vegetables all year round in raised beds. In the past two months, however, I haven't been able to grow anything at all. Everytime I plant seeds in my beds, they don't sprout. If I plant seedlings, they're gone without a trace by morning.

Most of the seedlings get completely sealed under a tent of shadecloth, so I've ruled out flying and crawling pests. I dug around in the soil and found nothing except a few large earthworms and sowbugs, and I've never seen a snail or slug on my property.

My yard was flooded several times from mountain runoff last winter, so I'm wondering if something invisible arrived with the floods and infested my soil.

My local agricultural extension has no explanation, so I was hoping one of you experienced gardeners might be able to help.



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We live on the Big Island.
We have found that the sow bugs eat our smaller seedlings. We don't plant things out until they are fairly big. Once the plants are big enough the sow bugs don't bother them. We have to keep the flats of seedlings up high enough or the sow bugs just climb up and help themselves. So that may your culprit.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2004 at 12:06PM
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devra(Hawaii 11)

Thanks for the reply. It's so nice to have advice from a fellow Hawaii gardener because so many of our gardening problems are unique to Hawaii.

I always use hay mulch over my beds and the sowbugs must love it because there are always tons of them. The strange thing is, I've always planted my tiny seedlings right into the midst of them without problems. Only in the last two months did the seedlings start disappearing.

Do you know if solarizing the soil with a sheet of clear plastic will kill the sowbugs?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2004 at 7:04PM
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I think solarization will either kill sow bugs or encourage them to move out of your beds and probably kill any eggs.
You are so right about the unique problems here.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2004 at 12:23PM
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