Cucumber seedlings are especially attractive to garden pests, but I think I’ve found a simple, organic gardening method to outsmart the hungry critters, like cutworms and birds.
Last season, the trouble cropped up right after planting the seeds.
I’d soak the seeds overnight to soften them a bit for planting, then I’d prepare the garden bed, plant the seeds, and celebrate seeing the first seedlings pop up from the ground.
The next day their heads would be missing, leaving a tiny stalk standing.
My first thought was that cutworms were feasting on the cucumber seedlings, so I tried protecting them with collars, toothpicks, and other homemade guards.
But when these defenses failed, I knew I had other pests, probably birds and squirrels were snacking on the seedlings.
This year I took a different approach to planting cucumbers. Instead of planting in the garden soil, I planted them in one of the large containers on the patio.
As soon as the seedlings poked up from the potting mix, I covered each one with a miniature greenhouse to protect it from harm. These greenhouses are the clear plastic berry containers from the grocery store. I simply cut the lid off the top and placed the box over the seedlings.
So far, these little greenhouses have worked great. Because they have slits in the side, I can water right over them without damaging the seedlings. By the time the plants are several inches tall and starting to develop leaves, I can safely remove the covers.
This organic gardening method works for cucumbers, beans and other seeds that are especially tempting once they germinate and produce tender, juicy seedlings.
The combination of cutworm shields and these little berry-box greenhouses are just two simple steps for ensuring I get to the cucumbers before anything else does.