Garden Warfare

With all of our crazy weather, the plants in our garden have been doing strange things. Last year our season was so stretched that we had fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes in our Christmas salad. We didn’t end up pulling those plants until the end of January!

The point of the story is not to brag about our weather (which we wish involved cooler days and more rain over the winter), but rather to talk about what happened next. When we finally pulled that last tomato plant, the roots were covered in white orbs. Root knot nematodes to be specific.

Nematode Nodules

Wiki’s picture turned out much better than mine.

We noticed that our fava beans in a different patch of the garden were incredibly stunted. When we pulled those, nematodes were to blame there as well. Bad nematodes!

They can affect essentially everything we grow, and they were in all our growing areas, so we had to fight back. Since we only plant edibles, and we fully plan to eat our bounty, we weren’t going to poison our soil. Instead, we are conducting biological warfare.


We have now done several treatments with Actinovate. It is dried streptomyces lydicus bacteria. Add water to a tiny amount and suddenly a whole bacterial colony of soldiers are ready to go into battle against the nematodes. For those who prefer a less violent and more of a childhood nostalgic analogy, we have let loose a herd of microscopic Hungry, Hungry Hippos in search of their nematode feast.

It will be a while before we know which side is winning, but our replacement favas are looking much better and are producing for us already. We did loose a chard to our nemesis, however.

Who would have thought that gardening had all these secret battles going on?

Has anyone else ever had plants attacked by nematodes? or Is anyone experienced with backyard biological warfare?

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