Sunday, April 18, 2010

BENEFICIAL NEMATODES

One of the most challenging aspects of vegetable gardening is the vast assortment of insects and diseases that Mother Nature introduces to your garden each year.  Over the years I have tried various chemical treatments,
sticky traps, soapy sprays and home remedies.  More recently, I have discovered a natural way to fight back.
My new weapon? BENEFICIAL NEMATODES!  These are microscopic parasitic worms that seek out grubs
in the soil.  I have discovered that most of the worst garden pests spend part of their life cycle as grubs in the
soil in your garden. When introduced to the soil the nematodes seek out grubs, enter their bodies, inject a
lethal dose of bacteria and then eat them.  Bravo! Way to go 'tode!


Among the pests which have reeked havoc in my garden are; asparagus beetles, squash bugs, squash borers,
potato beetles, corn worms, cabbage worms, coddling moths, tomato horn worms and aphids. Most of these
insects have a grub stage.  Hopefully, my nematode buddies will find and destroy these nasty creatures.

I have received nematodes from a number of sources over the last four years.  This year, I bought nematodes
from a company called March Biological Control.  Their price seemed fair compared with the competition.
1 million nematodes, enough to treat 3000 square feet, cost me $15.50.  Postage was an additional $16.25.
The postage paid for FEDEX 2 day air.  This is very important because nematodes are living creatures
that are sensitive to moisture and temperature stress.  The nematodes arrived on a sponge surrounded by
plastic.  Accompanying the nematodes was a freezer gel pack.  Nice touch.  March Biological Control is
the only company that I have bought nematodes from that has taken these precautions.  In addition, I received
a "heads up" email alerting me to the shipment and advising me to keep the container out of the sun and
to put the container in the refrigerator.

Application is relatively easy.  I squeezed the sponge into a 2 gallon bucket of water to release the nematodes.
I then added a couple of cups of the nematode water to every watering can full of water and applied to all
of my vegetable beds.  I also applied nematodes to the ground around some of my apple trees.  I will report
on the results periodically over the course of the gardening season.  Check this out.
All the best,
Greg

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