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Root Knot Nematodes

by gardengirl

Root Knot Nematode
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Garden saga of fighting root knot nematodes

My garden did really well last year until the root knot nematodes attacked. Root knot nematodes are basically microscopic garden round worms that attack the roots of susceptible plants by feeding on the root cells. They stunted my egglant and the tomatoes. The plants wilted and just didn't produce. This photo shows the roots of one of the tomato plants. 


Sigh. After much searching and asking, the word was to use actinoiron, elbon rye, lots of compost and a season of rest. So, last fall, I planted the elbon rye. Elbon Rye is supposed to act as a trap crop for the nematodes. The goal was to plant it, have them trap the bad guys and till it under in spring for added nutrients to the soil.






This is how it looked this spring as I was getting ready to till it in. 



However, as I was pulling up the drip irrigation lines, this is what I found! We think they were about 4-5 days old when we found them. 




So, needless to say, the tilling had to wait until the bunnies were old enough to hop out of the nest and the garden. We did have a delightful 10 days or so checking on the bunnies, lifting the top of the nest to take an occasional peak. Happily, we came out to the garden one day to find them out of the nest, hiding in the rye grass. 




My daughter managed to catch and hold one for a moment. 




After the bunnies hopped out of the garden, I cut the rye and tilled it in with bags of compost. It's supposed to continue to rest for about a month, which does put me behind in my planting schedule. But the bunnies were worth it. 


I'm planning on planting nematode resistant varieties this year like Park's Whopper, Celebrity and Better Boy tomatoes and might try planting some resistant southern peas like Mississipi Purple or Clemson Purple. I'll need to research eggplants further.... 


Crossing my fingers that those bad boys are gone and I'll get a descent crop of something this year.