Dealing with Nematodes in Tomatoes

There are different species of nematodes, and they can attack a large number of garden plants including fruit trees and ornamentals; however, because nematodes are microscopic, they are most likely not to see them but perhaps see the damage caused to the roots of your tomatoes.

Like most pests in the garden, nematodes reproduce rapidly. There are six stages in the life cycle — egg stage, four different juvenile stages and then the adult stage. This entire process takes only 21 to 28 days, and as you might imagine, they are quick to reproduce.

The eggs are laid in the soil and can survive for many seasons. They become active once the soil temperature warms above 65 degrees. While in the juvenile stages, they begin to eat the roots.

Once the roots are damaged, the plants are unable to efficiently get water and fertilizer, which is why your plants began to decline. There is no way of knowing your soil has nematodes until the plants begin to decline.

You are probably wondering how you got nematodes in your soil. There are a variety of conditions, including purchasing plants that had them in their soil. You can also spread Nematodes to other areas in your garden with shovels and even your shoes. Sanitizing your tools is very important, and be careful where you walk.

Water is another source of travel for them, so there is yet another reason to install a drip system in your garden.

Soil health is the basis for the health of a garden. You need to know how to get rid of them. Purchasing resistant varieties of tomatoes is essential. You can determine if they are resistant varieties by looking for an “N” on the plant label or seed package.

Crop rotation is always important for a number of reasons. A farmer also can try solarizing your soil when the weather is warm. To do this, remove the plants, turn and moisten the soil, and then cover with clear plastic for 6 to 8 weeks.

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