Gardening Just Got More Difficult…Discovering Root Knot Nematodes

Gardening Just Got More Difficult…Discovering Root Knot Nematodes

root not nematoads pearl shape ball misshapen growth on roots
Carrots with root knot nematode infestation. They are little microscopic eel like worms that damage the roots of fruit trees, vegetables, and ornamental plants.

I had wondered why my daughter’s carrot crop was so pitiful this year.  While I was outside this morning, I pulled a few carrots out and discovered the reason, Root Knot Nematodes. I have managed to avoid any infestations of Root Knot Nematodes in my two decades of gardening, however, it looks like they finally ended up at Hanbury House.  I am guessing they came in on a little pepper or tomato transplant last Spring or the Spring before.  Those two crops are the only things I grow in that bed that come from outside sources, everything else, like the cilantro, lettuce, carrots, chard, beets, and basil, are usually seed grown.

Eradication of root knot nematodes is difficult, if not impossible for home gardeners.  Commerical growers use fungicides, but since I am an organic gardener, even if I could buy them at the nursery, I probably wouldn’t.  The only bright side is that bed is a raised self contained one that does get full sun in the summer.  I may try solarization, but I live on the coast, and it rarely gets hot enough to be really affective against soil borne pests.  My other thoughts are I will fill it full of marigolds this year or get really drastic, and replace all the soil in that bed.  All the options take that 8 x 8 square bed out of production for at least one growing season.   There are a few plants and root stocks that are nematoad resistant, but few of those are annual vegetables.  Since it just found them, I will have to mull what the best option for the bed will be.

Since I don’t want to spread the nematodes around the yard, and I have not seen any symptoms or signs of them elsewhere in the yard, I had to clean my boots, throw my gloves in the wash, and stick the hand tools in the dishwasher.  I know it seems paranoid, but better safe than sorry later down the road. Right?

Any suggestions for organic management of nematodes or what has worked for you if you ever got them?


3 thoughts on “Gardening Just Got More Difficult…Discovering Root Knot Nematodes

  1. Leanne,
    My father-in-law once poured boiling water on a sunny day over his small garden plot to kill nematodes,

  2. Leanne:

    Sorry to hear that. I know nothing about nematodes except my grandmother said they are the one thing that can ruin Bababerries. Hope you can contain them!

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