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The DeKalb Extension Garden Patch

Calcium and water for tomatoes; updates on Kudzu bugs; a class you might enjoy.

The DeKalb Extension Garden Patch

Tomatoes - Water and calcium

Averil, does putting crushed eggshells into the soil help with the calcium levels? Also, is it possible to water tomatoes TOO much?  (a question from Diane Loupe following a Q&A  on blossom-end rot - July 9, Decatur Patch)

Adding eggshells to soil will eventually add a little more lime, but it takes a very long time for the shells to break down to the point where calcium would be available to plants.

Tomatoes should be watered regularly, especially at fruiting time. If watering is inconsistent resulting in periodic wet and dry soil, blossom end rot can occur in developing fruit. A heavy rain after a dry spell will cause ripe fruit to split and, similarly, heavy  watering after letting the soil dry out will cause this to happen, too. The ideal would be to let the top 2-3 inches dry out, but keep the root area damp. You can test this by feel, or with a water meter. Mulching helps keep soil moisture even.

Of course, most plants will tend to develop root rot if consistently overwatered.

Update on Kudzu Bugs: An invasive species feeding on an invasive species (from Garden Patch, May 28th)

In October 2009, large aggregations of an insect (Megacopta cribraria), commonly referred to as the kudzu bug, bean plataspid, lablab bug, or globular stink bug, were discovered on the exterior of houses in nine northeast Georgia counties. By September 2010 the insect was confirmed in more than 60 north and central Georgia counties as well as limited distributions in North and South Carolina. Before discovery in Georgia, the kudzu bug was not known to occur in the Western Hemisphere.

The bug has now been confirmed in 122 Georgia counties and infestations on soybean crops have caused an estimated 19 percent yield loss.

In its native Asia, one of its preferred hosts is kudzu and it is believed it will continue to spread into most areas where kudzu is established.

Kudzu bugs are not difficult to kill, but reinfestations can occur fairly soon after an insecticide application. 

(Source: Dan Suiter, Wayne Gardner - Dept. of Entomology, UGA, CAES; Update Source:  Phillip Roberts, UGA Extension Entomologist)

If you would like information on insecticide control for kudzu bugs call the DeKalb Extension Master Gardener Office - 404-298-4080.  For organic control, the bugs are easy to pick off if you catch them early before the numbers get out of control!  Check the undersides of leaves, especially legumes, though they can be found on practically any plant material.  Their favorite, as the name suggests, is kudzu, so it would be good to keep any kudzu under control - not an easy task!!

A class you might find interesting:  DeKalb Extension Homeowners series:  “Sustainable Gardening and Landscaping” - Gary Peiffer, DeKalb County Extension Agent, and Averil Bonsall, Master Gardener Coordinator for DeKalb County.  August 16, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. at the DeKalb Extension Main Office auditorium (4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA  30032 - next to the Tax Office).  Get some ideas on how to care for your garden and landscape, using minimal chemicals, so that it not only benefits you, but will benefit future generations, too.

 Questions for the Master Garden Help Desk?  Phone 404-298-4080 or email dekalbmastergardener@dekalbcountyga.gov

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