I planted sunflower seeds this year, mainly as a joke. I plant sunflowers pretty much every year and have never produced one plant. Everyone else around me seems to be able to grow them. In fact, they are grown commercially three miles away, but for whatever reason, I just can't grow them.
So imagine my surprise when they actually sprouted this year. Since I used an entire seed package in six holes, multiple seedlings appeared in each area. And just when I thought I would be forced to thin them out (which I'm not very good at since I feel bad -- oh, gee, you overcame the odds to grow, but sorry, you're not convenient here!) something came along and ate them.
After a few days of applauding the new growth in the day only to find the seedlings shorn to the earth in the morning, I went out at night with a flashlight and discovered the problem: earwigs. They were everywhere.
I'm sure there's some chemical which would wipe out everything in the earwig family instantly, but the point of my garden isn't success. The point of my garden is to give me something to work on, and if things survive long enough to produce food to eat, it tastes even better.
There were a couple of different ideas online, and the one I chose involved putting half an inch of vegetable oil in a cat food tin and leaving that out in the garden.
I had grandiose plans of measuring the success of this method. (After all, there's no quality without metrics.) After the first night I found about thirty earwigs, multiple ants, and a slug drowned in the oil. I wasn't sure if the trap would work beyond one day (leading to objective number two!) so I left it there and put another tin out nearby. The next morning the new trap had about twenty-five earwigs. It didn't look like the old trap had added any new ones, but it was difficult to tell since the earwigs were starting to fall apart. So it appeared that the traps did not in fact last beyond one day, but was that result repeatable? I decided to leave the two out for another night along with yet another new tin.
Then disaster struck. At some point during the day, the ancient blind dog wandered to the back of the yard and ate my experiment. Not only was this a disaster for the experiment, but I'm thinking that eating about a cup of vegetable oil is going to do nothing good for my dog's insides. And I say that as a trained professional.
I'm hoping that my new null hypothesis ("Ingestion of vegetable oil and assorted garden bugs will have no effects on the digestive system of an old blind dog") turns out to be correct...