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Archive for Sunday, November 9, 1997

GARDEN CALENDAR

November 9, 1997

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Working sand into a clay soil is a risky proposition.

Amending garden soils with organic matter such as peat moss, ground bark and compost helps to improve clay soils. Sand is sometimes suggested as an amendment material, but be cautious when using it.

In order for sand to be effective in breaking up clay soil, there must be bridging of sand grains. This means that the sand grains must touch one another so the pore spaces between grains can hold air or water. If the grains do not touch, the clay fills the voids between the sand particles and leaves no room for pores.

This is the same principle used when making concrete, and the result is somewhat the same -- it makes a bad situation worse.

How much sand is needing for bridging? Normally, about 80 percent sand is sufficient. In most cases this makes the use of sand impractical. The addition of organic matter is a better choice.

Millipedes

We are again seeing millipedes invading homes. Millipedes -- also known as "thousand-legged worms" -- are a wormlike arthropod relative of insects.

They can be distinguished from centipedes by the number of legs per body segment. Millipedes have two legs per segment, while centipedes have one. The millipedes' legs are quite short and may not be seen if viewing the millipede from above.

Though usually found in damp outdoor locations, they can become a problem inside homes. Invasions of households are often sudden and sporadic. Millipedes feed primarily on decaying organic material and rarely on living tissue. They do not bite people or directly damage household furnishings. But if crushed, they will leave a mess and give off an odor.

Millipedes are wormlike and usually brownish-black in color. Their legs ripple as they move but will often curl up into a "C" shape like a watch spring if touched. They defend themselves by giving off a disagreeable odor when disturbed.

Millipedes require high moisture conditions in order to survive and often die in a day or two after entering a house.

Drying any moist areas inside will also help with control. Sealing and caulking around any openings in the foundation will help keep populations low. If this is not enough, spraying Dursban (chlorpyrifos) in a 3-foot band around the outside of the house will take care of them before they get inside.

-- The garden calendar is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County Office and written this week by Dennis Bejot, county Extension director. For more information, call 843-7058.

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