Sunday, 16 December 2012

Mystery tip nipper

One of the first seeds I put in the new patch were climbing bean seeds. I put in a row of Blue Lake as soon as I had a bed and wire for them and they came out of the ground quickly and strongly. In fact, while I didn't count, I think I got pretty much a 100% germination? Yippee! - off and running.

I am growing lots of beans this season, of course because I like eating them, but also because I want all they can offer - their food value as well as their nitrogen fixing nodules to contribute to the ongoing fertility of the hastily built beds.

Here is what I have in :
  • Climbing beans - Blue Lake
  • Dwarf beans for eating green - Sex without strings (strange name) a yellow bean
  • Dwarf beans for drying - Red kidney, Borlotti, Cherokee wax

But I have a problem - I have a mystery tip nipper. As mentioned, the Blue Lake came up quickly and well and looked fantastically strong little plants.  But something was odd, they didn't seem to go past their cotyledon stage (the first two baby leaves of a plant). Surely they'd start to send up their first real leaves and their searching tendril-like thin stem looking for the wire to support them and they'd get climbing soon, right?

I kept looking each morning for action, but there was none, what was wrong? Down on my hands and knees I closely inspected the growing tip of the Blue Lakes - it seem as if they have been nipped out!

Every single one of the baby plants has had this treatment - just as if I had used my (dirty) finger nails to take the tip out myself. 

What on earth would nip out the new growing tip of a bean plant? I have grown beans for years and years and never seen this happen before. There was no other damage - no slug activity, no nipping off at ground level which might indicate cut worms, no eating of the whole plants, no obvious foot prints of wallaby or possum...

Who is my mystery tip nipper - any ideas? And any ideas on how I can protect the other beans about to burst out of the ground?

Here I am mid-December and beans stuck at cotyledon stage forever.  Better get sowing another row!


  1. That is weird. I have had a similar problem with my early cucumber plants. they did get a couple of sets of true leaves but then the growing tip basically died. Or at least I thought it died but maybe something ate it. Not sure and I have no idea what is causing yours either - would love someone to enlighten you though.

    1. Bummer, strangely, I have cucumber in the same bed and they are fine!

  2. Earwigs, maybe? This has happened with young plants to me too and I've never been sure of the culprit but I've guessed earwigs. I mulch the beds a lot and also have woodchips on some utility areas and apparently earwigs love to hide in both. I'm hoping the chooks will eventually control them but they're sneaky little buggers and are EVERYWHERE! They also eat the centre out of my roses which really, really bugs me.

    1. Ah, earwigs. Maybe! It sort of makes sense. There is a bed full of big wood chips that they might like hiding in. I will try to raise beans in a different bed away from the wood chips.



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