Polytunnel Woes

Polytunnels, cold frames, greenhouses, propagators & more. How to get the best out of yours...

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Catherine
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Polytunnel Woes

Postby Catherine » Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:27 pm

A week yesterday I spent several hours planting broad beans and others in modules. I very carefully wrote on the seed packet how many seeds I had planted and the date and what I had planted them in. Yesterday when I did my usual check to see if anything had come up. (I check every day as I am very impatient to see what is coming up) I found that nothing in the two trays of beans were showing their heads above the compost. So I did a little poke around (told you I was impatient) There was nothing there in all but one module there were no seeds. Now my husband was convinced that I had gone mad and was watering empty seed trays but I know I had planted the damned things. Have now replanted all the seed pots again. (Shown husband that half the seed packets were used so he started to believe me) But I still dont know where the pesky seeds have gone. I have now blocked both ends of the polytunnel just in case we have very tidy mice around who can eat the seeds then replace the compost. I know what I planted so does anyone think it might be mice or have I really gone mad and just dont know it yet.!!! If that is the case then I am off to the polytunnel again this afternoon before they cart me off the the funny farm.
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richard p
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Postby richard p » Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:34 pm

sounds like mice to me. i now cover the trays of broad beans with plastic until they show through. i think the little sods have cleared a tray of pepper seed though.
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Postby gardenaholic » Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:19 pm

This had happened to me in the past and was told that the seeds can rot away if watered after planting. I now soak the seeds prior to planting and not again until they appear. I now have complete success.
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richard p
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Postby richard p » Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:00 pm

i had one uncovered tray of broad beans, the mouse had its back legs in the little nipper and its head in the compost with a bean in its mouth, caught in the act you might say.
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Postby Johnboy » Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:30 am

Hi Richard,
I use expanded metal lath cages over anything I grow in the tunnels as have tried with many things but the mice have a field-day. I also have Pea guards
made of expanded metal lath placed over the Peas planted out down the row.
EPM is obtained from builders merchants but you will need a pair if tin snips or a small angle grinder to cut it up as you require it to be and some soft malleable wire to make the guards. If looked after they will last for many years and I should think that some of my guards are at least 20 years old.
JB.
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Catherine
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Postby Catherine » Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:53 am

Thanks for that. I will get my husband right on it, when he gets up!!! Thought that they would have been safe in the polytunnel. This is my first year with a tunnel only put it up in middle of last year and put tomatoes in it and got terrible blight so I am not sure what I am going to grow in it this year. I also think that some of the seeds rotted off because they were in peat type pots which were just bone dry or very wet did not seem to have an inbetween. I will not be using them again. Will be going to check this afternoon to see if anything else has disappeared.
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richard p
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Postby richard p » Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:23 am

i sow into moist b&q multi purpose compost in either small yogurt pots or mushroom trays with a few holes punched in the bottom with a nail. the seeds get a splash of water on top , then the pots are stood in trays with a little water in which soaks up into the compost. i keep the water topped up to keep the surface of the compost just not dry,
normally its only the broad beans that the mice are a problem with, these are planted in a supermarket mushroom tray which is then placed in a high sided plastic tray, with a sheet of clear plastic over the top until germination. standing the tray ontop of a bucket also makes it difficult more the mice.
peas are started off in 6 foot lengths of gutter laid accross a pair of builders tressels , mice havnt worked this out ...yet. :D

our young cat got shut in the tunnel overnight last week, he seemed quite happy when i found him, and didnt demand any breakfast... he hadnt knocked anything over either, so perhaps thats another solution.

regarding what to grow in the tunnel, dont forget its not only for hot greenhouse crops like tomatoes , peppers, melon etc but also to extend the season,both in the spring with a few early peas, some early potatoes, the first batch of cabbages etc but also into the autumn/ winter with lettuce, cabbage etc.

must dash im supposed to be tiling a kitchen :?


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Catherine
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Postby Catherine » Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:33 pm

Just an update on the polytunnel plantings. The seeds that my husband planted to replace the ones I might or might not have planted two weeks ago have been raided by the blasted mouse. Not only that it has nipped off all the sweet peas that have come through and the nastutiums seeds have been gone through. I blocked both ends of the doors so I think it must be in the polytunnel. So we are back to the drawing board and this weekend we are making some staging for the plants to stand on. (I had asked for this when the tunnel went up last summer and he didnt think we needed it) :x Ha. Last night we went to Gordon Riggs garden centre and bought a load more seeds if only we had done the staging in the beginning. I was trying to be a bit ahead in the planting because last year I got no broadbeans at all. Thanks for all your suggestions on how to protect them in the future.
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Postby Tigger » Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:23 pm

I don't want to dampen your enthusiasm Catherine, but staging won't stop them - they'll just climb up it.

I use pet proof bait stations in our tunnels (available from farm suppliers) and lots of poison! :twisted:
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Catherine
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Postby Catherine » Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:41 pm

Just come back from the tunnel to check on the mouse trap. Success one large mouse in the trap but it looks like it had been feeding on the last few pots I could not cover. It obviously liked the chocolate cereal bar I put in the trap to catch it. Not sure about poison as I have a 9year old granddaughter and although I know she would not intentionally touch it I am not sure I like that idea. But thanks anyway. Never heard of pet proof bait stations. Do they catch them alive or do they kill them? :?
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Tigger
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Postby Tigger » Fri Mar 28, 2008 10:03 pm

They 'hide' the poison inside a run so the vermin go in to investigate, eat it and go back home. No bodies to dispose of and no harm to pets or children 'cos the poison is hidden and locked off. There's an associated outlay cost but they last years.

Once the tunnels are sorted, I use the bait runs in the barns and outside during warmer momths. Then it's back inside for winter.
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Postby Johnboy » Sat Mar 29, 2008 4:37 am

Hi Tigger,
I use EradiMouse and EradiRat both of which are perfectly safe to humans and pets. It also means that if one of the cats decide to eat a mouse or rat that has taken the bait the cat will not be in danger.
JB.
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Catherine
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Postby Catherine » Sat Mar 29, 2008 6:49 am

Thanks for that I will go shopping this morning and look for them. Johnboy you are posting very early in the morning. I thought I looked at the website early but apparently not. I am planting my third lot of beans today so I need to make sure they are safe. Here's hoping.
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Postby Geoff » Sat Mar 29, 2008 8:25 am

Catherine : good to find another Gordon Rigg customer. Went yesterday but thought the prices had risen a bit steeply but haven't been anywhere else for comparison. We often used to buy their small perennials. Perhaps I was just miffed because we went for Chrysant cuttings and they don't do them anymore.
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Catherine
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Postby Catherine » Sat Mar 29, 2008 10:20 am

Geoff: Dont know where you are in the Forest of Bowland but there is a nursery on the road from Burnley to Todmordon it is just past the left turn to Worsthorne. You turn right as though you are going to Townley Park then immediately right into the place it is called Springfield Nurseries but they have lots of perennials and they are very very reasonable prices. And not so far to go as GR. I did think that their prices have gone up. But it was just an excuse to have fish and chips at Grandma Pollards on the way. Also Foulridge Garden Centre used to be very good for seeds and plants but they are closing. Shackletons near Clitheroe is very expensive we only look round there and wish. :)
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