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Wheeler: Fielding residents’ questions from the extension office

POSTED: July 6, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Every week at the extension office we are presented with diverse questions. Being able to help people solve problems is one of the best parts of the job.

Question: I have fleas in the yard from my pets. How do I get control of them?

Answer: Flea control is something that must be done with a multi-prong approach. First is to bathe your dog in order to remove as many adult fleas as you can. Then apply a topical flea and tick medicine. These products are usually applied on the top of the neck, behind the head, or along the back. If the yard has a lot of overgrown vegetation, remove it so fleas will not have so many hiding places. Spraying the yard is also an option, but this can be hard to do if the area is very large. Be sure to follow label directions and rates.

Q: Slugs have invaded my hostas and other plants. How do you get rid of them from the garden?

A: There are many baits on the market that work very well. You can apply the bait directly to the ground in the area you have seen them, or you can make a funnel trap out of a Coke bottle. Cut the bottle about a third of the way down and turn it upside down into the rest of the bottle like a funnel. Staple the pieces together and pour in the bait. In no time, you will have a nice collection of slugs.

Q: Why are the leaves of my tomato plant curling or rolling up?

A: The problem is called tomato leaf roll. It is a physiological condition that typically does not affect plant growth or production. We see this condition when the plants are under moisture stress and high temperatures. There is not much you can do but to help the plants along in dry and hot weather with plenty of water

Q: My pepper plants have not been setting fruit. I thought peppers loved the heat. What is going on?

A: Even though peppers are a warm season crop and can tolerate hot weather, the hot weather we have experienced lately can be too much for some varieties to set fruit. In 90-plus degree heat, blossoms tend to just fall off the plant.

Q: Why did my newly spring-planted azalea die?

A: Azaleas are sensitive plants and usually feel the first onset of dry conditions. You need to get the water to where the roots are growing. For the first few months most of the plant’s roots are still growing in the rootball potting mixture, just like when it was bought from the nursery.

During the first month after planting, water at the base of the plant. Then begin watering both under and around the plant. This will encourage the plant’s roots to explore the surrounding soil and take off with good healthy growth.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. Contact him at 770-535-8293. His column appears weekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.


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