What is eating my lettuce starts?

Asked April 4, 2020, 8:21 PM EDT

I have raised beds. I put lettuce starts in twice in the last few weeks. Within a couple of days they are eaten down (see photo). Slug bait was put on immediately after planting and no evidence of slug trails. Could this be birds? I saw some song sparrows on the bed a couple of times. I put netting over one bed but too early to tell if helping. Your column in the Oregonian is the highlight of my week. Linda Ganzini

Clackamas County Oregon

1 Response

Thank you for the image of your lettuce.

Yes, the culprits are birds. The major evidence are sharply pointed bites -- think, bill-shaped -- taken taken from the edge of the leaves.

You'll need a sturdy barrier to stop them enjoying your spring greens. Perhaps row cover or aluminum screen propped above the plants; hardware cloth; or bird netting, the latter with small enough holes to thwart the smallest of birds. Be certain to secure the cover all around to interfere with easy access.