My raised bed vegetable garden died this year. I am heartbroken, but determined to find the cause and the remedy!

A few days after I exuberantly posted the verdant scene of my miniature version of permaculture in my raised beds, disaster hit!

I noticed that the green bean vine was turning in on itself with yellowing leaves, brown crunchy stems, and withered blossoms. Even worse, the next morning, my reliable perennial swiss-chard lay wilted in the dirt. Who sabotaged my garden? What was going on?

1. Cause

I first pulled up the swiss chard to examine the roots. I discovered grotesque, bulbous nodules that looked like nasty boils. I googled the description. It turns out that it’s a thing; root rot nematode infestation (RKN).

2. Remedy

The solution is to remove all vegetation before planting a cover crop of marigolds or greens. I chose marigolds because they’re pretty and my chickens love to eat them. Allow the cover crop to mature till the first freeze. Turn the greenery under and leave the bed to stay fallow for the winter and practice solarization. The practice of solarization is simply to cover the exposed ground with black plastic for a full season. Yes, you’ll have to forfeit your winter garden, which in Texas is usually the most prolific.

3. Result

In the spring, direct sow your seeds into the prepared bed as much as possible. If not, make sure the nursery in which you shop guarantees “no nematodes.”

Sometimes, taking a break, correcting our misdemeanors, and starting over is the best route, not only in gardening but in life as well. Don’t allow your mistakes to contaminate your vision. Look up! You’ll notice that butterflies are still fluttering.

Which pest are you currently battling?

When a gauzy, purple butterfly,

Softly tilts a golden flower,

Its cool wings ease the summer flame

As laughter soothes a troubled hour.

Courtney Cottam,

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