Secret for Growing Lots of Healthy Tomatoes

Secret for Growing Lots of Healthy Tomatoes

How Rowena Knows How to Use Marigolds

I was born in Bunkie, Louisiana in 1951 to a strong woman named Rowena. My mother was very knowledgeable about plants because she was born (1923) and raised on a farm in Mansura, Louisiana. In fact, she lived with her parents and older siblings a couple of miles outside the tiny town of Mansura. It always seemed to me that Mom knew what to plant, how to plant, and knew all about the other answers to garden’s and life’s difficult questions. Of course I had a father, but he was away at work most of the time being a lineman for the county. We knew him as the breadwinner of the family and the one Mom threatened us with if we ever misbehaved.

I watch and helped my mother through my formative years and learned quite a bit about plants of all types and how to take care of them in all seasons if perennials and how to trim shrubs and trees. She also shared with me the gifts that some plants possessed: gifts of healing, pest control and other marvelous things they can do.

Marigold roots had a magical way of pulling bad things out of the soil. Photo. Silvia Corradin

One fond memory is the big patch of marigolds my mother always planted months before she planted her tomato garden. She was told by her mother that Marigold roots had a magical way of pulling bad things out of the soil so when you cleared them, roots and all, from that area, the ground will be cleared of bad “dirt bugs” and ready for a plentiful tomato harvest. Now, mother did not know the science behind what she was doing. She simply trusted the age-old wisdom of her ancestors. Needless to say, she produces so many tomatoes we had to give some of them away. I remember snacks made of sliced cucumber and tomatoes with a little salt and pepper on hot days.

Scientifically, French marigolds are an effective crop for trapping microscopic nematodes in their roots when planted thickly in the tomato patch prior to tomato season. The most important step when using marigolds in this way is to completely remove all or as much of the marigold’s root system as possible and bag them and throw into the trash. Do not compost these plants. Remember that the marigolds roots have trapped the nematodes and this in effect eliminates the population of the “dirt bugs” as mom used to call them, for a short period of time. This process should allow a great growing and fruiting season for you tomato plants.

The specific varieties of French Marigolds that have been successful in removal of nematodes from the soil are:

“Petite Gold,”

“Petite Harmony,”


“Single Gold,” (also known as “Nema-gone”) or “Lemon Drop.”

The Author:

Gary P. Brocato

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