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The DeKalb Extension Garden Patch

Low-water gardening, bats and blossom-end rot.

The DeKalb Extension Garden Patch

Every year I run into lots of plant losses or lawn damage due to drought conditions. Do you have some good suggestions to reduce these losses?

Yes – look at converting your landscape to a Xeriscape or a low-water-use landscape. There are seven steps included in this conversion some of which you may already be using. Steps include: planning so you use the right plants and locating them well; reducing the size of your lawn and using the right grass for your situation; building better soils that will drain well yet retain water for plant growth; mulching wherever there is bare soil to improve water retention and to reduce soil erosion; installing an efficient watering or irrigation system that does not waste water and gets the water to where the plants need it – at their roots; selecting the best plants available that are pest resistant and suitable for your selected site. Try some Georgia Gold Medal plant selections and call us for a copy of the list compiled since 1994 (404-298-4080). Finally, be sure you are doing the correct maintenance at the right time of year. Don’t over-prune and eliminate shearing wherever possible. Consider using low nitrogen fertilizers or slow release products to limit a rapid plant growth response which requires more water.  -  Gary Peiffer, DeKalb County Extension Horticulture Agent

My neighbor recently put up a bat house in her yard. Are bats harmful or do they carry diseases?

Bats are not harmful and very rarely carry any diseases. They are actually helpful in eliminating disease-carrying mosquitoes. Bats are some of the most beneficial animals that live in Georgia. They help pollinate our plants and can eat up to 6,000,000 insects like mosquitoes and moths, per summer.

Bat houses can attract many female bats if they are located right and there are already bats in your area. These houses provide good shelter and a safe place to have babies. Bat houses can hold up to 100 bats. If you are interested in installing a bat house you can buy them from Wildlife Federations, or get directions to build your own at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website. These websites will give you directions on how to build a house and the best way to locate and mount them on a house or a tree. -  Sarah Brodd - DeKalb Extension Youth Coordinator

I noticed the leaves on my pepper plant are starting to curl and there are reddish black spots on my bell peppers.  Is this a disease?

Your peppers are getting blossom end rot. This can happen to peppers and other summer vegetables. It is not a disease; it is caused by a lack of calcium and uneven soil moisture. Make sure your soil has plenty of available calcium and keep your soils evenly moist with soaker hoses. If necessary, so that you get some harvestable peppers, consider purchasing a product called blossom end-rot stop. It is a calcium chloride spray that you use to introduce calcium into the plants and blossoms and hopefully end the fruit rots.  -  Sarah Brodd

 Questions for us?  Email abonsall@dekalbcountyga.gov

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