Q: I have raised bananas for several years but they are getting weaker and weaker. I realize that there were nematodes in my soil. How do I control nematodes?
B.B., Fort Lauderdale
A: There are no products available to homeowners to effectively control nematodes. But heavy mulching has been proven to reduce many nematode populations.
If your soil is heavily infested with nematodes because you saw the damage to the roots, you may have to remove the plants, solarize the soil and replant with nematode resistant varieties such as Mysore, FHIA 1 (Gold finger), FHIA 2 (Mona Lisa), FHIA 3, SH 3640, and Saba.
When buying plants, make sure they are nematode-free by checking the roots and purchasing from a reputable grower. For a list of fruit nurseries, please read the fact sheet from the UF Miami-Dade Extension office: http://miami-dade.ifas.ufl.edu/Pubs_LnG2.shtml
To solarize the soil, remove all plants in the area and cover the soil with clear plastic mulch with the edges of the plastic covered with soil. Wet the soil before covering. Leave the plastic in place for at least four to six weeks. The best time to so this is during the summer.
Keep your plants vigorously growing by heavily composting; use plenty of mulch.