Fighting nematodes and other tomato soil pests and diseases
What makes you think you have nematodes?
Many times it’s just poor soil conditions and someone telling you it’s probably nematodes , tomato root knot nematodes.
What are nematodes?
There are good nematodes and there are bad nematodes. Root knot nematodes are bad pests; they are nematodes living in the soil that feed inside the tomato plant roots, disrupting the flow of water and nutrients within the root system. Stunted plant growth and a yellowish color to the plant can be an indication you have nematodes. Once you have given up on your tomato plant, dig it up and look for knots and or bumps on the roots.
If you really have nematodes, what to do?
In containers, make sure to plant in minimum 20 gallon size containers with the brand new potting soil we have discussed in other posts. Go ahead and place your container right on top of your old soil area containing nematodes.
In your regular backyard soil, dig a hole 2 feet diameter and 2 feet deep and throw away the soil. (It has the nematodes in it.) Fill the hole with high quality potting soil/mix. Plant your tomato. See our Backyard Planting post. If you have nematode problem again … you may need to stick with container gardening.
For pests and diseases of the soil such as tomato root knot nematodes, you will read articles recommending you not plant in the same spot every year, but it’s just not that easy to move your garden to different locations yearly. A simple fix is to use the great potting soil and methods we have discussed and if you feel your potting soil is diseased at some future date, replace it with new potting soil.
Nematodes more readily go after weak and damaged tomato plants that are water-stressed. Use good potting soil and keep the roots moist. Frequent irrigation can help reduce nematode damage.
You are welcome to share this information with others—family, friends and clubs, etc.
Sharing tips helps us be better growers.
Dave Freed / the Tomato Guy