Planted bean seeds vanished

vickima(z5 MA)June 17, 2008

I planted Jade bush beans on June 3 and of about 30 seeds planted, only 1 germinated. This happened last year when I planted the same variety; I replanted later in June and got a good crop, so I wrote it off to cooler soils. But this year has been very hot so I don't think that's it.

I dug around where I planted the beans thinking they might have rotted, and I couldn't find a trace of them! I replanted and then yesterday noticed the soil disturbed by what I assume was a mole near that bed. Do moles or voles eat seeds underground? They were planted at least an inch deep so it's hard to imagine birds got them (didn't see the soil disturbed).

I did see one stub, which may have been an emerging seedling that got killed by a slug or cutworm. But I looked for others and didn't see any. It seems like the seeds just vanished. Any ideas?

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jimster(z7a MA)

You described the problem I'm having with Purple Hull peas almost exactly. My loss is not so bad, maybe half emerged. The only clue I see is an occasional shriveled seedling which looks as if it was pulled down into a 1/2" hole in the ground. I reseeded the large gaps in my rows. I hope it works. I sure would like to know what happened.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 10:23PM
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I had a hard time getting beans established this year. Between birds, slugs, rabbits, and chipmunks, most of the beans I planted haven't made it. If the soil was too cool or wet, the seeds rotted (we had a cool, wet spring.) When the beans first popped out of the ground, birds ate the seedlings, pulling them out completely. I covered them until they got big enough to survive the birds and the slugs got them when I uncovered them. Then chipmunks started excavating the garden, and rabbits found me.

I had to just keep restarting until eventually they took. The key factor for success was having so many plants coming up at the same time that the critters couldn't eat everything. The birds got more interested in berries and I managed to keep the slug population down with baits, traps, and outright late-night massacres. I don't yet have all the bean plants going that I wanted, but at least now there's a few going up the poles, and a lot more will probably make it.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 10:40AM
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This does happen. One of the reasons why I transplant most of my beans. Once the plants are a few inches high, they stand a better chance. Transplanting however is a lot more work. Probably more work than resowing. But for us it is worthwhile for another reason too: we have very late last frost dates and by transplanting beans we can stretch the growing time a bit as.

Hope your next batch of seed flourishes without problems.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 11:15AM
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vickima(z5 MA)

sequi, I feel your pain! Based on what I've heard here, I think I'll go out and plant more seeds. I was trying to stagger plantings this summer, but it's not looking like that is going to work. Next year, I think I'll try to start seedlings indoors per your suggestion galina. At least that way I might get an earlier crop.

Still can't imagine what is happening to those seeds . . . I don't see any evidence of critters other than that mole run, but I didn't think moles ate vegetation.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 1:22PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

My second planting of Purple Hulls, which was done a week ago to fill in the gaps, is starting to pop up. Hoo boy! We may have a crop after all.

I'm still in the midst of planting pole beans. I'm hoping for smooth going with those.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 5:38PM
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I started another thread about disappearing Limas. They just rotted away. The same thing happens with peas. Seems I did my homework with peas because I did read long ago that they may rot in the soil. The basic conundrum is they germinate well in warmer conditions but grow well when its cool. I though it was silly to plant in mid March only to wait weeks to germinate or rot. So I grew seedlings and transplanted them the first week of April. The plants gushed with fruit.


Even a few of those rotted in the vermiculite and they were basically a paste that would certainly disappear in the soil.

The direct sow of Limas has only confirmed that I did the right thing. If growing space counts more than seeds I would do them this way.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 12:05PM
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vickima(z5 MA)

solanaceae, thanks for the tips. I didn't think those seeds could rot and vanish that quickly. And the soil wasn't cold! But based on what I've heard here I'm going to plant even more seeds in the ground now, and next year start some indoors and transplant.

I always thought beans were the sure thing for direct seeding. Guess not!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 1:01PM
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cateyanne(zone 5/6 Northern Ohio)

I had the same problem this year, disappearing beans and no evidence of anything eating them!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 9:41AM
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I also had that problem last year and tried something different this year. I soaked my beans in a 10% peroxide solution for 2 hours. I don't know why, but they will germinate overnight (or within 2 days) that way. After soaking them I put them in lidded containers with damp coco peat. The ones that showed a root were planted over the next 2 days. I have had nearly 100% germination on two varieties of bush beans and the ones that didn't germinate didn't look like great seeds to begin with. I do this same thing with sunflower and cucumber seeds. It's essentially a compromise between sowing then waiting and transplanting. By the way, the shells will get all distorted from the soaking. That's not a bad thing if you don't know that already.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 10:35AM
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vickima(z5 MA)

Joe, thanks for sharing that tip. I'd never heard of it but will try it next year. I've managed to get more to germinate, but not on my schedule so it would be great to have more control.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 5:02PM
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I had a similar problem with peanuts.About half of them will vanish.Just for sake of experimenting once I soaked the nuts in water overnight, drained the water next morning and let them sprout before planting.That worked fine.Almost 90% peanuts germinated.From then on I always let the peanuts and all other seeds sprout before planting.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 1:21AM
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