Answer: Nematodes are microscopic (less than 1 mm long), wormlike animals too small to be seen with the unaided eye. The majority of plant parasitic nematodes live in the soil and damage plants by feeding in large numbers on the roots, impairing the plant's ability to take up water and nutrients. The practice of fallowing prevents any vegetation from growing in the garden area, thus starving the nematode population. The target area must be kept completely weed free to prevent nematodes from surviving on alternate hosts. One year of fallowing will lower the nematode population to a level where an annual crop can be grown successfully. Or, you can plant suppressive crops. Marigolds and chrysanthemums and common vetch are all considered good controls for nematodes. They will not feed on the roots of these plants so the population dies out in a single season. Vetch makes an excellent green manure cover crop. After allowing it to grow and mature, you dig it into the soil as you would any organic mulch. At this point there are no chemical controls available to homeowners so you'll need to follow the above suggestions, practice crop rotation so the nematode population doesn't grow too large and plant nematode resistant varieties of tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. Good luck with your garden!
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