The Q&A Archives: Bean Seedlings Die

Question: We want to grow beans in a small area behind our house near our raspberry patch. We have successfully grown tomatoes and chard there, but cannot seem to grow beans. The beans sprout, but do not grow. It looks like something is eating the roots. Do you know what our problem is?

Answer: Here are some possibilities; you'll have to play "garden detective" and look for clues as to the real culprit:

Cutworms -- usually attack young seedlings right at the soil line. Protect seedlings by wrapping loosely with newspaper.

Wireworms -- 1" to 1 1/2" long, slender, hard-shelled elongated larvae of the click beetle; chew on germinating seeds and underground plant parts. Try trapping them by burying a chunk of potato, covering it with few inches of soil, then placing a board over it. This should attract the wireworms; you can then dig up the potato and destroy the worms.

Slugs -- usually do their damage above ground, but might be a culprit.

You might also keep an eye out for rodents and birds that might be pulling up the seedlings.

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