Is shellfish compost really good for your organic garden?

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The biggest advantage of shellfish compost is in soils infested with root-knot nematodes. Root-knot nematodes attack the roots of tomatoes, peppers, and many other vegetables, forming galls that restrict the uptake of nutrients. Affected plants are stunted, and produce inferior fruit.

Shellfish compost is rich in chitin, which forms the shells of shrimp, lobsters, and crabs. Adding shellfish compost to soil produces a proliferation of chitin-eating bacteria. Once the bacteria have eaten all the chitin from the shellfish compost, they attack the next largest source of chitin--the outer coatings of nematodes.

Shellfish compost only has this effect in warm soil temperatures, when bacteria proliferate freely. It also takes a few months to boost chitin-eating bacteria populations, but over time, nematode populations decline. Southern gardeners with nematode problems, pay attention.
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