The Q&A Archives: Nematode Help

Question: I've had a small tomato garden for the past 3 years. The first year was great: big, juicy tomatoes and healthy plants. The 2nd year was not great b/c of the drought. Last summer, my plants all had nematodes (I think). Could you tell me where on the web I could see a picture of what nematodes look like?
Also, planting my tomatoes in different place this year isn't an option. What can I do to combat these (chemicals, organic material)? Burpee's catalog does not show disease resistance.
Can you help me before I take a flamethrower to these little buggers again this year?

Answer: Nematodes would not necessarily be the cause for a decline, although it is a possibility. More likely would be last summer's cool and cloudy weather combined with the varieties you grew and most likely of all, reduced soil fertility. You might want to run some soil tests and find out what amendments are needed for the best tomatoes. Also, the addition of organic matter such as compost should be done on an ongoing or at least annual basis to "feed" the soil and keep it in good condition. This would be in addition to any fertilizer you might use. Adding organic matter is also one of your best defenses against problems that build up in the soil, such as those that affect tomatoes. Your county extension should be able to help you with the soil testing and suggest amendments as well as suggest tomaot varieties that do especially well in your area during "typical" summers. They should also be able to help diagnose or identify any pest problems you might have. Their telephone number is 696-3500.

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