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ROOT KNOT NEMATODES IN THE SPRING OF 2018

It is May here in Rockport, Texas. After having significant rain in January through March, we are now in drought conditions. The temperature during the last half of this month will reach 90 degrees.

The winter garden of English peas, turnips, mustard, lettuce, spinach, radishes, and herbs were lush and very productive. There were only a few root knot galls on the peas and turnip roots.

The spring garden of tomatoes, peppers, onions, squash, cucumbers and Maxabell bush beans have or are producing abundantly. I picked over 20 gallons of beans from my 30 foot row. Six of the 7 squash plants were heavy bearers. The cucumbers have climbed the 5.5’ fence and are growing up into the fruit trees. I am picking ripe Celebrity tomatoes the size of softballs when usually they are a little larger than a baseball. The Gypsy frying peppers are loaded and producing deep red delicious fruit. The Jumbo Jalapenos are thick on the plants with thick walls and variable heat. The onions are the largest I have ever grown.

I have pulled up the squash and the beans. There were no root knots on the long roots of the squash. The bean roots had multiple spider web roots indicating the presence of the mycorrhizal fungi. Only 2 of the many dozens of bean plants each had a single root knot gall. There are no yellow leaves or limbs on the cucumbers, tomatoes or peppers which would indicate root knot damage.

Last week I pulled up the dying cucumber vine of a friend. There were dozens of root knot galls all over the thin roots. What am I doing that makes a difference? First, I am using both dry molasses in the soil and a liquid molasses drench on all my plants. I wrote about the use of molasses to limit nematodes in May, 2017. Second, I have turned under Cedarcide granules in each of my rows. I recently bought cedar flake pet bedding to use as a mulch and later turn under when I till the rows to replant. Cedar liquid, granules, and flakes repel insects both in and above the soil.

The third possibility is that the 14-15 inches of rain from Hurricane Harvey plus the fall and winter rains which kept the water table near the surface may have drowned the root knot nematodes. Farmers in both Florida and Louisiana flood their fields to control the nematodes. My friend’s raised garden bed had no preventative treatment with molasses or cedar, and it is on higher ground than my garden.

I have bought three fifty pound bags of dried molasses. I have used about 2 gallons of the 15 gallons of agriculture molasses. (Remember mix one cup of molasses with I gallon of rain water.)I will probably use the cedar flakes more than the granules both because of cost and larger bulk. My problem is remembering at 77 to keep on schedule using Spray-N-grow blends at least every other week, plus making LMC and drenching my plants regularly.

-Herman Green

5/30/2018    Garden Journals