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MSU Extension Service

Home Grown is an educational, entertaining, question-answer column seen weekly in "News from the Genesee MSUE Office," a weekly newsletter for Genesee County Master Gardeners. Special thanks to the Genesee, Oakland and Livingston county MSU Extension offices for providing this service.

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This week's HomeGrown

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HOME GROWN 313


I have noticed that there have been some droppings on my porch and now I see that there is a bat hanging on the underside of the porch roof. We are scared to go out that door because we know the bat is waiting for us to open it so it can fly in. How can I make this thing go away without making it angry?

One of us has been staying up late and watching scary bat movies on the sci fi channel and it isn't me. You've turned a simple bat occurrence into a dark tale of a savage stalker bat. Bats don't plan ahead. If they did, they wouldn't want to come in the house. Bats don't want to be in a house with crazed humans screaming and chasing it with tennis rackets and brooms. Consider the bat is without any motives. He's just dumb and wants a place to hang out. This is probably a young male bat. The mommy bats are tending kids now. The bat has been out feeding on night-flying insects and needs a place to rest. Your porch area looks super. While he's resting, he needs to use the "facilities," hence the bat blops. One thing that you should remember from your bat flicks is the bats are "creatures of the night," or more simply, they work best in the dark. Light your porch area very brightly. Do this and Mr. Bat will have to vacate because he can't afford sunglasses. Then he can move elsewhere and terrorize others.

I would like to use newspaper as mulch down my vegetable garden isles. When I have asked friends, they have told me that this would poison the vegetables and, ultimately, us. They say that the ink is going to put lead in our soil and the paper will also contaminate the garden. Is this true?

The short answer is no. The expanded answer, for that learning moment, is that lead is no longer in printing ink. The inks are now soy-based. So much for the lead poisoning idea and all your hair falling out. The paper is wood pulp. Nothing is going to be left except for a bit or organic matter. Using shiny paper is probably not the best idea. The paper is made shiny by using a thin coating of clay. Clay is never a welcome addition in any garden. Go ahead and use the newspaper and consider yourself trendy by recycling.

I mulched my flower and shrub beds in the spring with wood chips. In the last couple of weeks, there is the yellow or creamy stuff in big lumps on the wood chips. It turns dark and when I spray it with water, it looks like it turns into smoke. This is right outside my house. Should I get rid of the woodchips and how safe will it be for me to go near them?

I can see the headlines now. "Man frightened to death by harmless fungus." This is one of the slime molds. This particular one is sometimes called Fuligo. Just think of it as party-colored Cool Whip, but just not to eat. Its wants are simple. It needs dead wood, moisture and humidity and warm temperatures. And what have we had for weeks? We've had the main ingredients for fungal ecstasy. The darkening of the fungus and the ultimate dispersal of spores is it eproducing. Unless the interior of your house is warm, damp rotting wood, Fuligo will say outside, thank you. I wouldn't attempt to snort up the airborne spores, though. You might be allergic to them. Rake the mulch to loosen the top portion so it will dry out. Rake to a depth of two inches. If you see the yellow or cream colored globs, wash them away with the hose. If it oozes onto plants or rocks, wash it off. The change in weather will give you the best control. The family, pets and house are safe.

Gretchen Voyle, MSU Extension-Livingston County Horticulture
Agent 517/546-3950

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