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May 7, 2020 9:59 AM CST
Name: Tia
Peoria, AZ (Zone 9b)
This morning, I came out to my (covered) raised bed and every single spinach seedling was gone. I had buried rooted garlic to help with pests, and all of that was dug up and left near its holes. My second set of sweet corn seedlings were gone - the first set is still fine. A few bean leaves were plucked from its stalk. Note that the bean seedlings have cardboard collars, so it's something that could reach up high enough to get the leaves w/o disturbing the rest of the plant. Also, only one plant was disturbed; 5 of the other bean plants were fine (for now).

On a much higher table near the raised bed, something dug up the garlic bulbs I planted in a container, as well as ate or otherwise removed two leaves from a bean seedling.

At this point, I am concerned that by tomorrow morning there will be absolutely nothing left in my garden.

The only thing I can think of at this point is that there is a rat in the garden. Because of the covers, I don't think a rabbit is the culprit even though we have many, many baby rabbits in the neighborhood right now. They would have to lift the cover, but a rat could squeeze through the spaces between the cover and the wooden raised bed edges. The digging up (and discarding) of the garlic is also bizarre but could mean a rat is involved.

I thought that a cutworm was messing with the new sweet corn, but after this, I think it's all related to one particular pest.

The covers are essentially 2x3 sq ft cubes of PVC pipe covered with bird netting.

I had just gotten a slug problem with my sunflowers under control, and now this. Help! This is my first veggie garden experience and I feel like I am just growing vegetables for the wildlife at this point! Only the tomato plants seem immune. I knew the spinach was a gamble anyway bc it is too late in the season here to grow it, but it was growing fine and had gotten its first sets of true leaves before whatever this was completely decimated it.
Last edited by vive1980 May 7, 2020 10:07 AM Icon for preview
Avatar for Deeby
May 7, 2020 11:21 AM CST
Name: Deborah
Southern California (Zone 10a)
Rabbit Keeper
Probably slugs.
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May 7, 2020 5:15 PM CST
Name: Tia
Peoria, AZ (Zone 9b)
Deeby said:Probably slugs.


Could be! Though the slugs were eating the sunflowers, and I haven't noticed any damage since I laid down Sluggo a week ago. Also since there was damage on the high table, in the small containers, I feel like that rules out a slug.
Avatar for Deeby
May 7, 2020 5:59 PM CST
Name: Deborah
Southern California (Zone 10a)
Rabbit Keeper
Not sure then. I hate slugs! They got all but two leaves of my spinach. I'm thinking of pouring salt on the ground around my containers.
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May 7, 2020 6:01 PM CST
Name: SoCal
Orange County (Zone 10a)
Lazy Gardener or Melonator
Slugs like spinach.
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May 7, 2020 6:09 PM CST
Name: Tia
Peoria, AZ (Zone 9b)
Deeby said:Not sure then. I hate slugs! They got all but two leaves of my spinach. I'm thinking of pouring salt on the ground around my containers.


I hate slugs, too! I've lived in Arizona 10 years and have never, ever seen a slug. I assumed it was too dry here. I guess not!

I definitely know I *had* a slug problem recently and they're likely not gone; I just think I also have a rat issue. Mostly because before this garden was planted (raised bed) there was a fig tree here and even though we sort of had the rats under control, I'm sure some went into the neighbors yard when we had that tree removed. So I'm betting they are coming up over the wall and having a look around their old stomping grounds nightly.
Last edited by vive1980 May 7, 2020 6:10 PM Icon for preview
Avatar for Deeby
May 7, 2020 8:17 PM CST
Name: Deborah
Southern California (Zone 10a)
Rabbit Keeper
"Old stomping grounds"
Rolling on the floor laughing
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May 7, 2020 8:32 PM CST
Name: SoCal
Orange County (Zone 10a)
Lazy Gardener or Melonator
I don't think they eat vegs, it could be grasshoppers, they are vegetarians.
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May 8, 2020 8:15 AM CST
Name: Tia
Peoria, AZ (Zone 9b)
More damage this morning. This is something that damages not only what's in the bed but also on a 2.5 foot high table that's over a foot away from the bed.

It tore off a sunflower stem. Usually the slugs will eat the leaves, not just topple. Could consider a cutworm, but it has a collar, and this is the only thing toppled. I've also dug around these plants and never found anything.

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It also ate the remains of another sunflower.


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It pulled up garlic bulbs (two), and also didn't seem deterred by all of the diced garlic I put around the bed. It hasn't found or bothered with the one between the sweet corn yet.


Thumb of 2020-05-08/vive1980/3f0569

It then jumped or crawled up onto the high table and went through a small pot of emerging petunias, and ate two baby sunflower seedlings I was growing to replace the ones the slugs destroyed (not pictured).




Thumb of 2020-05-08/vive1980/446498

I'm bummed! Whatever it is doesn't seem to bother the onions, chives or thyme, clearly. Nor the tomatoes - it doesn't touch any of the tomato plants and I have over 10 of them! So far it hasn't bothered cucumbers or squash.

I didn't want to only grow herbs. I'm sad thinking I may not be able to control whatever this is.
Avatar for Deeby
May 8, 2020 12:20 PM CST
Name: Deborah
Southern California (Zone 10a)
Rabbit Keeper
Dillard, any ideas?
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May 8, 2020 12:28 PM CST
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Beekeeper Vegetable Grower Enjoys or suffers hot summers Seed Starter Region: Alabama Garden Procrastinator
Container Gardener Butterflies Birds Bee Lover Zinnias
I'm not sure what kind of critters you have in Arizona but I'm thinking rodents of some kind. Since you know for a fact that there were rats there previously then unless you implemented some type of eradication program they're still around the area. But, it could be chipmunks or squirrels, too. I would think rats, though...since they're smart enough to get into and out of the covered beds. Any of them can be tough to deal with but they must be dealt with if you want a viable garden.
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May 8, 2020 12:30 PM CST
Name: Dillard Haley
Augusta Georgia (Zone 8a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level
I don't know, But I would set out some rat traps. I am not familiar with the wild life in Arizona, but I would suspect some type of animal.
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May 8, 2020 12:36 PM CST
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Beekeeper Vegetable Grower Enjoys or suffers hot summers Seed Starter Region: Alabama Garden Procrastinator
Container Gardener Butterflies Birds Bee Lover Zinnias
Possums and raccoons come to mind, also, but I think they would make a bigger mess.
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May 8, 2020 1:30 PM CST
Name: SoCal
Orange County (Zone 10a)
Lazy Gardener or Melonator
Could be birds, they like to pull plants.
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May 9, 2020 12:17 AM CST
Name: Tia
Peoria, AZ (Zone 9b)
I set out a rat trap tonight. Let's see what happens! Thank you all!
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May 9, 2020 7:24 AM CST
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Beekeeper Vegetable Grower Enjoys or suffers hot summers Seed Starter Region: Alabama Garden Procrastinator
Container Gardener Butterflies Birds Bee Lover Zinnias
Wake up! Wake up! Gotta check that trap!!!! nodding
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May 9, 2020 11:06 AM CST
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
Dances with Dirt
Beekeeper Bee Lover Hummingbirder Butterflies Cottage Gardener Birds
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Vegetable Grower Herbs Frugal Gardener Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers
You may also try some deterrent I use a lot of pepper , both seeds like you put on pizza and powdered red cayenne . I sprinkle most of my newly emerging seedlings and new transplants .There are several rodent type critters here that like to reek havoc in the garden.
This life has many choices
Eternity, only two.
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May 9, 2020 6:55 PM CST
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Bookworm Charter ATP Member Region: California Hummingbirder Orchids Plant Identifier
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
We have both possums and rats here, but I have never seen them bother seedlings. I did have a cat that would pull them out where she didn't want them.
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May 10, 2020 2:17 AM CST

My experience tells it's either slugs or grasshoppers, albeit I lean very heavily towards the latter. Last year they did a number on the okra and this year it's all out war over parsley.
You can usually tell if it's slugs if you check early in the morning: you will still find traces of slime all over the place. Also most slugs are picky and will just eat the tender leaf tissue, leaving the veins alone. I will post what they did to the eggplants later.

PS: if anyone has a remedy to keep grasshoppers away without covering the parsley I am all ears.
The Saviour.
Avatar for PoconoPotatoes
May 10, 2020 7:46 AM CST
NE PA (Zone 6a)
I'd suggest a squirrel. We have squirrels that dig up anything planted. The fact that something got onto a raised table is the clue you need.
Can you put out a trail cam or something?
One way to tell - plant stuff in a pot and put chicken wire over the top; weigh it down well. Put another planted pot right next to it. If your pot is tossed around, but the chicken wire pot isn't, then I'd be 99% sure it's a squirrel. Squirrels just dig, occasionally they'll eat, but they're really just looking for burying places.

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