Not hot enough for you?: If you’re one of those folks who just can’t get enough of that sweet stuff your habaneros get behind, listen up. Hot peppers get hotter when they’re thirsty. Danise Coon, assistant director of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University, recommends cutting the plants’ water intake in half to increase pungency. “When a chile-pepper plant is stressed, to survive, it creates more capsaicin – the substance that gives heat – to deter mammals from eating the fruits,” Coon says.
Going native: The N.C. Arboretum will host its annual Focus on Flowers: Gardening with Native Plants symposium on Saturday, July 14, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The emphasis is on using native plants in the landscape to reduce the use of water, fertilizer and chemicals. Program fee is $40 for Arboretum Society Members and active Buncombe County Master Gardeners; $46 for the general public. Fee includes all materials, light snacks, lunch (a vegetarian option is available) and Arboretum parking fee. Preregistration and prepayment are required, as program attendance is limited. Call 665-2492 for more info.
Clean your scene: It’s easy to blame water pollution on unmitigated development sites or big-box parking lots, but a lot of water problems begin at home. Bare soil in lawns or along driveways (which speeds runoff), improper application of pesticides and fertilizers, mowing too close to streams, permitting animal access to streams, failing septic systems, car washing on impervious surfaces and even pet wastes can cause serious problems when multiplied by thousands of residential sources. The Buncombe County Soil & Water Conservation District can help you out with simple solutions to these and other problems that can be implemented at a relatively low cost. For more information, call 250-4785.