Culprit! Grubs Snatch Spinach in Greenhouse Beds
Who was the culprit who ...
Made holes in the greenhouse soil bed?
Made holes and trails in the greenhouse soil bed?
The spinach looked lovely on February 13. I could not figure out what was making these holes. I dug and wondered.
The post on Zaatar on February 14, came about through digging it up, in the hopes of finding the culprit in that process.
I'd been seeing a lot of crickets and cricket young in the greenhouse, moving into and out of the soil near the very thick foliage of the zaatar. I thought maybe the crickets were the problem and the zaatar was their hiding place. I did not find any cricket creche in the soil. But come to think of it, I did find and destroy a couple of grubs then. I didn't consider that they may be the source of the holes. Not being familiar with the growth rate of spinach, I didn't know if it was growing slower than it should have. Now, I believe that even in the winter light, it might have developed faster if its roots had not been eaten away. It is kind of like spending principle - it doesn't leave much for later meals. But I'm getting ahead of my story.
Below, on Feb 19, before harvesting, the spinach was as good as it got. I also had to trim it back to almost nothing as aphids spread to that bed.
After the spinach was trimmed back I knew things had gotten way out of hand with my mystery bugs. Spinach is near the top of the photo below. Some of the little ones survived and began to green again. However, many of them just disappeared, right through into the hole that they had been growing in. Then one dear one with new leaves on it seemed to be sinking deeper into the soil than it had been. Gingerly I reached to see if it would pull back up into place. Alas, the whole stem came up, nibbled away from any roots it might have had. That does it! Forget the all the other jobs that need to be done! 1. Put amendments on the new area opened up for bramble transplant. 2. Cover the new flower garden area with paper and straw so weeds don't take over. 3. Set up the new potato patch. 4. Process finished batch of compost. 5. Process finished batch of worm castings. 6. Start more seeds! 7. Tear and soak newspaper for new worm bedding. It's time to deal with this urgent problem NOW.
I removed the herbs that had been growing in that bed (zaatar and french tarragon) and potted them up. Also the remaining spinach and lettuce plants from half the bed were potted. The soil was combed through, all the worms were saved. I wondered if the destroyers could have been the red wigglers that were dropped into the bed. Did they run out of debris to eat and were they starting on the good plant roots? It seemed far fetched, but I kept exploring.
There had been an explosion of sow bugs on one of the shelves, but as far as I knew, they only ate rotted stuff. And I'd seen (and squished) only three or four as I moved all the soil, digging through the bed.
The answer appeared as a bug that has the same shape and size as the holes and tracks I'd seen. In fact, when I watched them march on the concrete floor after being removed from the soil home in which they were illegally squatting, their movement pattern did seem to match the form of the tracks. Ah ha. Gotcha!
And I kept getting them. About 25 large hungry grubs came out of half of the four foot by seven foot bed with 10" of soil. Tomorrow I have to get into the other half, pot up the two chard and many lettuces that are doing well there (so far) and clear out the grubs that have been making holes in that part of the bed too.
How did they get in there? Why didn't they show up earlier? Can I keep them from "reseeding"? The soil has been there for almost a year. I didn't see them as the soil went in. These are questions that you the reader may be able to answer. Or more research in the grub life cycle may answer them.
As the other beds get harvested out, I will have to comb through them as well.
This discovery leaves me feeling a tad more grateful to the armadillos and skunks that paw through my yard eating grubs.
Below is one of the grubs on the concrete floor before his execution. So much of gardening, here in the buggy Ozarks, seems to be about killing, it is spiritually painful that my gardener's instinct and what seems to be necessary is killing.
Oh, just squash it.