Defeating the rodents
At the end of each gardening year I typically sit down with a glass of wine and review my gardening journal with an eye towards what I have learned in the current year. I find this an aid in remembering useful lessons for the long term. A couple of items noted may be of some interest to the gardening folks here on the forum. I'll discuss one in this post and the other in a separate later post.
Defeating the rodents
It is typical to have a certain degree of predation on planted corn seed. This year was particularly problematic starting with my third sweet corn planting. Usually I think crows are the culprits but this year the pattern was different. Crows will typically pull up the seed by the shoot once it has emerged from the surface. This year seed was being dug up from above within 24 hrs of being planted. Some type of rodent suspected but culprits never seen in action. While voles are common here my experience is that their plant mayhem is from below, not from the surface. This leaves field mice and squirrels as the possible culprits, both of which are plentiful here. Since my planting method does not leave a visual indication of seed location, it would appear that they were being located for digging by other means. Since neither suspect species is sufficiently technologically advanced to have ground penetrating radar or its equivalent, location by smell though ~1" of soil cover was the only apparent alternative. For my next planting I planted half the rows at the usual ~1" depth and the other half at ~2" and noted the results. A higher number of the 1" plantings were dug up but some of the 2" ones were also dug up. If smell was the method of location, 2" soil was insufficient to mask. For my next planting I planted 4 rows with exactly 16 seeds per row all at ~2" depth. One row was planted is the usual manner, the remaining 3 rows were sprinkled with cornmeal at a rate of about 1 cup per 30' of row ground at the coarsest setting of the grinder. Results: the ultimate stand in the untreated row was 3 out of 16. The three rows treated with cornmeal had an ultimate stand of 38 out of 48 with none of the void locations due to seed being dug up. My takeaway is that the cornmeal treatment is effective against this particular form of corn seed predation.