A Tramp in the (Organic) Garden

Seeds, Smack Talk and Assorted Gardening Madness in South Pasadena, Los Angeles

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Freaking Nematodes


Nematodes, I curse thee, I cuuuuuuuuuurse thee! I have freaking root-knot nematodes in my backyard..... Deep sigh. I always nematodes were something that happened to other people- not me! It feels like my garden has VD and all the antibiotics in the world can't get rid of it.

I first noticed it on the EARLY FRAME PRESCOTT MELONS and then my KENTUCKY BEEFSTEAK and NYAGOUS TOMATOES, when I pulled out these non productive and sickly plants and examined their roots- knobbly, distorted and ridden with galls. I was horrified. Plants afflicted by parasitic nematodes often show above soil signs of poor health, drought stress and lackluster nutrition- yellowed leaves, sign of wilting. It's only when you pluck them from the soil and have a look at their roots that you can make out the true cause of their demise. Parasitic nematodes are actually microscopic "eel-like" worms that parasitize the roots of plants, reducing it's ability to intake water and nutrients from the soil, the most common type being the "root-knot" nematode. Don't get me wrong, some nematodes are beneficial- feeding on bacteria and fungi that can be detrimental to a plant. Unfortunately, the bastards that got my tomatoes and melons are not...

How to deal with it? Drown your sorrows in a good Chateauneuf Du Pape! No. alas, that's only temporary. 1-Grow nematode resistant veggies and plants. 2- Solarize your beds during the summer months. 3- Plants crops that nematodes cannot feed on, and supposedly the populations will decline. Certain cover crops, por exemplo. 4- Add organic matter to your soil, to help your plants increase resistance and remain healthy in spite of these bastardos. An organic matter rich soil will help hold water and nutrients, decreasing plant stress. 5- When you pull up the plant, remove all and any roots so nematodes cannot continue to reproduce and feed. 6-Till the soil as much as possible to expose the nematodes to the drying sunlight. 7- Planting African (Tagetes erecta) and French (T. patula) marigolds and tilling them into the soil when they have grown can help reduce populations. The roots contain chemicals that suppress those suckers. You have to plant a lot of marigolds for a couple of seasons to see a difference. Some effective varieties to look for are Tagetes patula 'Nemagold,' 'Petite Blanc,' and 'Queen Sophia'.

May the force be with us.

PS- Nematodes are most active during warmer weather and may not affect cool season crops as much- they cannot penetrate roots at soil temps below 64 degrees. Take that! The most commonly afflicted veggies are Solanaceous- tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, Cucurbits such as melons, squashes and cucumbers. Also, beans, peas, and carrots.

15 Comments:

At 22 September, 2006 08:24, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah your back...i was starting to get worried about you girl! lunch soon? teeps

 
At 26 September, 2006 13:15, Blogger Bomb Bay said...

where you been? tramp!

 
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At 01 October, 2006 12:45, Anonymous Gracieh13 said...

Thanks for the info on how to get rid of root-knot nematodes. I've been living in denial for a couple of years and now I have to admit my garden is full of freakin' nematodes too. I'm not gonna waste my time planting a vegtable garden next year. I'll try to solarizing and then the marigolds and see what happens the year after.

 
At 21 October, 2006 22:36, Blogger HerbLover said...

Can nematodes infect plants in pots?

 
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