Beneficial Nematodes - question(s)!

Potomac, MD

My veggies are in four raised garden beds. I recently had to pull all of my cucumber plants up due to bacterial wilt (I think) caused by cucumber beetles. I have been gardening for over 20 years and this is the first time I have had cucmber beetles - they are now on my squash plants, although through some measures I have been able to limit the numbers.

I have been reading about using beneficial nematodes to get rid of the larvae in the soil. I recently also found several grubs, and have fungus gnats, so the nematodes look like a good option. Unfortunately I have been unable to find anything locally and therefore no one to get more information from. The local extension was of NO HELP! I have many questions - which one is most effective, is it too hot to use them, which of the online outlets is the most reliable...? All the sites say theirs are the best, they grow them, they ship them alive, but then they say they need to be mixed with water...as you can see I am in need of guidance. If anyone has had any experience and/or success with, or can steer me in the right direction, I would so much appreciate it! I am trying to stay all natural in my garden and would like to get rid of these nasty pests! Thanks!

Hobart, IN

I once used nematodes years ago on my rhododendrons for a root weevil problem. The problem went away but can't swear that it was due to the nematodes so I can't claim any real experience. I listen to a podcast by Howard Garrett (the Dirt Doctor) who's in Dallas and it sounds like lots of folks down there use nematodes. I would check out his website for more information and I know he has links to suppliers of such things. They do need to be mixed with water and the soil needs to be kept damp for the nematodes to get going. I think Mike McGrath (You Bet Your Garden out of Philly) also has mentioned nematodes and you might want to check out that website. He's linked in to Gardens Alive but I'm not sure if they carry nematodes.

Lynnwood, WA

Nematodes are great, however they are both moisture and temperature sensitive and as such are difficult to yield effective controls. During some farming experience in Western Massachusetts, we had an issue with potato bugs( not too far from cucumber bugs) and found that using wheat germ in an application to the dew covered leaves proved to be effective as the potato bug could not digest the wheat germ and their fate was then sealed. In addition to the wheat germ, we used a bt application( bacillus thuringiensis ie milky spore) and found that we did not have a problem later that season. Now of course, the bt does not kill the pest, however, it does inhibit it from procreating and so, as a result, you are less likely to encounter the same pest or at least the same numbers the following season. I have also found that soapy water is an effective deterrent.

North Miami Beach, FL

I used beneficial nematodes in a rental house before moving into my own. We had a big lawn. hate lawns but the deal was that we had to maintain it if we wanted to live there, and one day it got a major moth infestation. It got so bad that the moth larvae killed a mature tree that was growing in the middle of that lawn. I bought nematodes on Amazon and released them according to instructions (first you have to water your lawn, then dilute nematode package in water can, and release them at night after sunset). The moth infestation stopped - I know for sure nematodes did the trick because we didn't use any other control methods for purity of the experiment. The moths disappeared completely.

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