TX Organic Research Center



Lowdown on sulfur for pets
May 16, 2003
By Howard Garrett

Question: I would like to know whether sulfur is safe to use around dogs and other animals. Do dogs suffer from chigger bites as humans do?

J.B., Dallas

Answer: I don't know about chigger bites and dogs. Maybe. I see dogs scratching when no fleas are to be found.

Sulfur is the chigger solution in most cases but only if you apply it at very low levels. Sulfur should never be used at a rate higher than 4 to 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet, which is about 200 pounds per acre.

Sulfur can even be used directly on animals for insects and various skin problems if done at very low levels and only as a temporary solution.

Good nutrition also can help prevent pests and skin irritations. I like and recommend Muenster Natural dog food and the dietary supplement called The Missing Link. If you don't use these products, at least add natural diatomaceous earth to the food daily at a rate of 2 percent of the food volume.

Question: I have green worms on my collards. In the past, I have used Sevin Dust, but I am trying to establish lady bugs, praying mantises and nematodes. What will work?

J.N. Dallas

Answer: The caterpillars of moths or butterflies can be controlled with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) without hurting beneficial insects.

To avoid injuring butterflies, carefully treat just the infested plants. An even safer approach is to release trichogramma wasps, which are inexpensive and very effective.

Good for you for getting away from Sevin. Although it has a reputation for low toxicity, it is one of the most toxic products still on the market. Just as the label says in large letters, it is deadly to bees and other pollinators.

Question: I have two crape myrtles that have a white powdery-looking substance on the foliage that will rub off on my hands. Some of the leaves are curling up and dying. Will spraying the trees with Garrett Juice fix the problem?

Answer: Powdery mildew attacks crape myrtles and other plants during humid weather. The control is to apply horticultural cornmeal to the root zone at a rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet and to spray the foliage with Garrett Juice plus potassium bicarbonate or cornmeal juice.

Cornmeal juice is made by soaking a pound of cornmeal in 5 gallons of water. Put the cornmeal into a nylon bag made from old panty hose or something similar to keep the larger particles from getting into the water. This cornmeal juice can be used alone or mixed with compost tea or Garrett Juice. No diluting of the tea is necessary.

Question: Last May, I bought about $100 worth of daylilies from a catalog, only to find out later that they all had rust. This has really hurt my husband and me as we are addicted to daylilies. I've been told that once you have rust, you have it forever. Other growers say that nothing can be done; you have to stop growing daylilies. I don't have time to spray, plus we don't have the inclination to introduce more chemicals into the environment. Do you know an organic treatment?

B.A. Dallas

Answer: This scare is more overblown than West Nile virus. Rust is a fungus and is fairly easy to control.

Step one is to stop using the high-nitrogen soluble fertilizers and chemical pesticides that caused the pest to attack the plants in the first place.

The control is simple - stop the synthetics and start using organic products and techniques that build life and health in the soil. Only sick or ill-adapted plants are prone to get fungal diseases.

The quick fix is to apply cornmeal to the beds at a rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet and to spray the plants with cornmeal juice.

See www.dirtdoctor.com/home.php for the formula and my Basic Organic Program.


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