Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Urban Permaculture Pests - Nematodes in the Garden

Here in the hot, humid southeastern United States we have sandy soils in many places.

This combination of sandy soils and warm weather makes a perfect environment for nematodes to thrive.

Nematodes love warm sandy soils.  So here in Jacksonville we struggle to keep them at bay each year in the Urban Garden out back.

Their presence is not so bad in the raised beds filled with organic compost.

However in the garden beds tilled into the ground directly, they are a problem.

Jud pointed out yesterday the serious damage nematodes can cause a plant when she pulled up the peppers to make way for winter vegetables.

The following photos show one pepper plant only somewhat infested with nematodes and another badly infested with the parasite.

Pepper plant roots infested with root-knot nematodes.
Urban Permaculture - Organic Matter Reduces Nematode Impact

Judy is a master gardener and volunteers at the local agricultural extension agency.  Her training is important and she points out that the fungal associations in organic matter will strangle nematodes - and serve to keep the pests at bay.

Many times I think we look at a poorly preforming vegetable plant and wonder if we'd applied to correct fertilizers or not - because it may be doing so poorly - or maybe watered it enough or too much.

Check the roots!  The problem may be nematodes.

If you see swollen knots on your vegetables then add organic matter to the soil and practice crop rotation.

For more information on root-knot nematodes see - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root-knot_nematode

Kevin

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