Friday, April 10, 2009

Trouble in Paradise

I believe I may have root-knot nematodes in my garden. I harvested my last beets today and made this photographic document.

Last fall, I painstakingly removed the grass in an area to make way for a vegetable garden. At that time, someone convinced me to use a tiller rather than turn the soil over by hand.

After a little research today I learned that a tablespoon of infested soil on a borrowed garden tiller can contain thousands of root-knot nematodes. This may or may not be what happened, but it is a possibility.

Anyone involved in a community garden should also take note: unclean, shared tools can be a way to invite nematodes into your garden.

The experts seem to agree that hygiene is your best defense. Clean your tools with bleach before moving to another garden patch.

Can anyone tell from the pictures whether or not these are in fact root-knot nematodes. If so, does anyone have any additional advice to offer?


  1. I don't know anythng about this subject, so can't help you with identifying. I shall bear in mind what you say about borrowing, (and lending out), tools! Garden hygiene is not one of my strong points!!

  2. Phoenix C. Thanks for trying. I appreciate your concern. I planted some corn in the area that had the sick beets. I think corn is not nearly as susceptible to root-knot nematodes. Thus the corn serves two purposes. Firstly, non susceptibility; second, crop rotation (which I read was a good idea in this circumstance). Keep in mind that vegetables are my nemesis and that I don't really know what I'm doing. I promise that my next post will be a little less gloomy!

  3. I have no idea about nematodes.....but....Happy Easter!

  4. Interesting. We just purchased our own tiller---and glad we did after reading this post.