Hungry pest is probably a mouse

Q: I started my fall vegetables outside and when they came up with two leaves, something ate them. They just ate the tops off leaving the stem. I had them covered so the birds couldn't get to them. What ate them?

A. There could be a host of bugs that could have gotten to them. With just the tops eaten, I would think it was a mouse.

A rabbit eats the whole thing and a ground squirrel will chop them down at the base and eat them.

I had the same problem when I started my spring vegetables. Just the tops were missing. I set a mouse trap and caught a mouse.

After that, I had no problems.

A mouse can get in almost everywhere. This was in a hothouse where I thought nothing could get in.

If the problem was damping off disease, the cut off part would be at ground level.

If you think it is a bug, try a yellow card with tangle foot on it.

These are also sold as traps premade in the stores.

Bugs are attracted to yellow and get stuck to the card.

This will tell you what kinds of bugs are around. My first attempt would be a mouse trap, though.

Q. How can I extend the season of my vegetables like tomatoes and peppers?

A. Tomatoes and peppers are very sensitive to cold. Peppers are more sensitive than tomatoes. Short of having a greenhouse, there are a few things you can do.

Save your plastic milk jugs, fill them with water and add a few drops of indigo ink.

Food coloring can also work as long as it is as dark as possible so it will absorb the heat. Put the jugs around the plants and at night cover the plants with a good frost cloth.

Sometimes it is called a frost blanket.

Make sure the blanket doesn't touch the plants. The cold will be conducted to the plant where it touches.

In the morning, uncover the plants so the sun can heat the jugs again.

You will only gain a few degrees by doing this but if the drop in temperature is just for one or two nights it will help.

Another method is to use outdoor Christmas lights under a frost cloth.

They have to be the old-fashioned kind because the new lights that save electricity don't put off much heat.

Q. What can I grow in the winter? I want to keep something growing in my vegetable bed.

A. The great thing about Kingman is we can grow all winter.

The Cole crops do great here.

Some of the Cole crops are cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

Pac Choy will also do great here.

If you want to try something different, try kohlrabi, turnips and rutabagas.

Just remember to either amend the soil or plant in a different area than you had summer plants because the soil will be drained of nutrients from the summer plantings.

Every month the Master Gardeners have a workshop on Kingman area gardening. For more information or to make a reservation, call The University of Arizona Mohave County Cooperative Extension at (928)753-3788 or stop by 101 E. Beale St. during normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.