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starting beans indoors/squirrels

Posted by gene_washdc z7 (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 23, 07 at 10:46

I know it's somewhat unusual to start beans indoors, but I'm in an urban area with lots of pesky squirrels. I haven't tried beans here, but the squirrels bother everything else, so I'm assuming that they'll eat the seed as quickly as I could plant them. How early should I start them? Has anyone had problems with squirrels eating beans off the vine?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: starting beans indoors/squirrels

Hi Gene,

Good to see you post! I've never had problems with squirrels eating my bean seed, either when I plant or when the seed is drying on the vine. When we lived four years in NJ we had MANY squirrels too. Squirrels did wreak havoc on my pea seed, however. I've never tried to start seed indoors for transplant. But my guess, if you do, is that you would start them about 2 weeks before your last frost date. Remember to keep them under lights with the lights nearly touching their tops, so that they don't get too leggy.

Tahlequah, OK

RE: starting beans indoors/squirrels

Hi George,
Thanks for the input! Actually I started a few this week (including some of your TN Cutshort) and they're already sprouting. I do need to lower the light though.

I've meant to order some of your Warsaw Buff squash seeds through the SSE catalog, just haven't gotten to it yet. Do you recall whether you still have seed available?

RE: starting beans indoors/squirrels

Squirrels love to dig up all varieties of legume and other large seeds in my area. I think it's best to give bean and pea seeds a head start by soaking in wet paper towels and planting once a taproot forms. This also helps mitigate seed rot problems as well.

RE: starting beans indoors/squirrels

Its getting to be less and less unusual, Gene.

The general advice is to start them no more than two weeks before planting.

However, there is a growing body of info that this is false. In England, for instance, they start them as much as 6 weeks ahead, to assure time for maturity.

The key is to minimize root shock as much as possible. Set the seed in large cells, that will disturb the roots as little as possible during transplant. Even better: use a peat or newspaper pot; something that gets planted with the seedling.

Basically, treat the seedlings with some delicacy and you should be OK.

RE: starting beans indoors/squirrels

It's the birds that eat my beans seeds.I start them on my porch (called lanai here in FL) otherwise they'd never come up because they're not there anymore.

RE: starting beans indoors/squirrels

This evening I set out 4 each of Tennessee Cutshort and Childers Half-Runner (George, TNC has larger leaves and roots than CHR -- don't know if that means for sure that they're different, will keep watching) and sprinkled crush eggshell to ward off cutworms. I used peat pellets to start them and was a bit surprised how large and vigorous the roots are. The pellets are too small.

RE: starting beans indoors/squirrels

I started several types of vegetables outside in various size containers. I must defeat the evil squirrels. I finally did. They dig in my garden and my containers.

I use silver colored plastic chicken wire 1" from home depot that you cut with scissors. I am also using it for little trellises. The mesh is cut to fit, then tied down with metal staples (if on the surface) or tied with string (if used as a trellis). It really, really works. I have lettuce, spinach, sweet peas, snap peas, regular peas, beans, and lots more growing. The mesh actually helps me position each seed. I insert my finger to the correct depth, add innoculant (for peas and beans), then insert the seed, and cover it up.

The rodents try to dig up, but soon give up. The monsters dig up everything. I cannot use repellents on the food products; I do use them on the flowers - but the rodents still do too much damage. The mesh works - pain in the neck to put down - but it works.

RE: starting beans indoors/squirrels

"In England, for instance, they start them as much as 6 weeks ahead, to assure time for maturity." It's not so much to assure time for maturity but to get an early crop. The season is long enough but unless you start them off indoors you won't get beans until late in the summer. With indoor starts I can have runner beans from mid May until late October. I sow runner beans indoors in small batches starting at the beginning of April and sowing in successin evry week or so. I do not use lights (I don't have any), but just keep them in a glassed in porch. Sometimes they get a bit tall if the weather doesn't warm up in time but since I only have a few at a time ready to go out this is not too much of a problem. At present I have transplanted planted 3 batches outdoors. They need to be hardened off prior to going outdoors full time and this takes about a week. I water them in well and provide a bit of shelter with horticultural fleece (remay?). They are really not that temperamental and transplant easily and start climbing their poles by the next day. Later sowings will be done directly outside but earlier ones do not thrive in my experience. French beans (ie snap/string beans) I start a little later but that is just my habit. Broad beans (favas) I direct sow outdoors in succession in November, February, March and April. Peas get much the same treatment. The trouble with the outdoor winter sowwings is that they sometimes rot away or get eaten by mice. I find that the latter wait until the beans germinate and are just showing above ground then bite off the bean and toss the shoot aside. There seems to be something about the just germinated bean which they love. It's very depressing to see your beans showing one day and eaten off the next. To avoid this I lay small mesh chicken wire on the ground along the rows until the beans come up but after that I just have to hope.

Rather a ramble I'm afraid. Executive summary ...beans transplant easily.

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