Skip to main content

Sabatoging Nematodes with Flowers and Grass

The knobby looking squash roots I discovered last fall when cleaning up the beds for winter vegetables signified the presence of root-chomping nematodes. While not all nematodes are bad by any means, this particular member of the family is the least favorite for gardeners and farmers. (It goes to show there's always a black sheep, eh?) While it happily sucks on the roots, the plants, of course, tend to produce less and become easy targets for disease and pests. The farmers noticed a similar problem in the adjacent field, and so this spring the remedies are underway.

I've decided to implement three remedies: a grass crop, marigolds, and compost. Marigolds planted en masse (and for about 90 days) act as a trap crop. The roots secrete a chemical toxic to the little fellows. The nematode that ventures over to the marigold root for a snack will find it can't leave or reproduce. A grass crop, like my popcorn, will provide welcome compost material at the end of the season that will attract beneficial nematodes and others who feast on these little root bothering meanies. Compost, of course, brings in all the little hero creatures: bacteria, good nematodes, worms, etc., to eat, battle, and work at outnumbering the bad nematodes. (This all sounds quite unscientific, I must admit, but you get the general idea.)

The farmers seeded the entire field next to my garden with marigolds now just putting on their true leaves. I imagine it will be quite a riot of color once they get underway, and I imagine the pollinators will be thrilled, too. I've done this in one section, but plan to add them throughout the garden, too. They won't be as effective scattered, but I remain hopeful they will have an impact.

Who's your favorite garden pest and remedy? I'm all ears!


kevin said…
Probably would be a shot-gun. If I had a license and the will to use it. (I don't think monkeys are afraid of marigolds) Speaking of pests, today we brought home a little family of field mice from our rice field. Trying to figure out where to release them without the neighbors' disapproval. Mind if I drop them in your field?
Anjuli said…
I love marigolds!!!!! I would love to see the burst of color from their blooming.
Thanks, Anjuli! I'm sure I won't be able to resist posting photos of their blossoms once they really get rolling. It's going to be so cool! (Geeky gardening enthusiasm showing through there.)
You certainly could drop them off, Kevin. The neighbor cats would enjoy some new friends, I'm sure. I often tell the farmers they should call the place Hatake Nekko. They always chuckle, but I'm not sure they really appreciate it. :)

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Goma Ai Shingiku - Sesame and Chrysanthemum Greens

Last week I had the pleasure of helping some friends work in their parents garden not too far away. Tucked behind the house, the garden sits on a former house lot. When it came up for sale about five years ago, my friend's father jumped at the chance. Open land in Tokyo can be hard to find and expensive, but for a retired professional looking for a little spot to till in the city it was an opportunity to good to pass up. Now, it is a garden to envy. As we came through the gate rose, lily, and peony blooms greeted us with great shouts of color while rows of vegetables stood tidily at attention on the sunny center stage. Small fruit trees along with one of the biggest sansho trees I've seen yet stood quietly here and there. Near waist-high sweet corn, bushy young potato plants, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and beans were preparing their summer fruits, while a handful of still quite luscious looking winter vegetables like komatsuna, mizuna, and kabu held one last ro