Marigolds and Nematodes

Marigolds and Nematodes

For years, I wasn’t able to harvest clean leaves from Swiss chard and kale. Most of the time they were full of holes, eaten by something.

I don’t mind sharing my bounty with others.

Humans or otherwise.

I am not interested in spraying chemicals in my garden, either!

Once I started selling at the farmers markets, I had to do something.

After all, people are buying with their eyes.

People are spoiled by supermarkets to look for perfect-looking vegetables.

They have no idea about the chemicals pumped to achieve that eye-catching look.

I was looking for ways to control garden pests and found out about marigold.

I was growing up with marigold in Sri Lanka. My sisters planted them always and I came to like their smell.

In Canada, every year, I planted them in my front yard. African marigold variety, Crackerjack, is my favorite.

They are tall enough to make a statement about their existence in the garden.

And that familiar scent that I loved.

I love their yellow, orange color mix.

The other variety I planted is ‘Jolly Jester’, a french marigold variety.

So this year, I planted Crackerjack in my vegetable garden.
In every bed.

This is the first year I was able to harvest clean leaves.

Yes, it works.

On kale, Swiss chard and Malabar spinach.

But only to some extent.

There were lot of hits and some misses.

They weren’t helpful with arugula, sorrel, lovage, spinach and others.

Even with kale and Swiss chard, late in the summer, some leaves were affected.

These experiments and trials are not scientific. Not much scientific evidence is there to prove that it is working all the time.

But there is some evidence that they work for the nematodes. Nematodes are worm-like microscopic organism that damages the root systems of plants.

So with root vegetables, damage is big.

Marigold produces chemical compounds that kill nematodes. But it doesn’t completely eradicate nematodes. They do come back.

Though there is some validity in the claim, this is not a guaranteed cure for pest problems.

I heard from one organic farmer vouching for Marigold. He plants them everywhere.

I saw my friend planting everywhere and perfect-looking Malabar spinach.

Whatever the research and myths suggest, I can say, there is some help from planting marigolds.

So plant them a lot.

They are also useful for butterflies and bees. Declining populations of these insects can benefit from your garden. This year, I see a lot of Monarch butterflies in my garden.

And I made some money, selling Marigold bouquets last season. They are great cut flowers. They last long in vase.

My wife made bouquets with evergreen branches and they sold well.

A garden doesn’t have to be just vegetables. It can also be beautiful with flowers, beneficial or not.

One way or another, there is some benefit planting them.

You may end up liking their scent too.