TX Organic Research Center



Cutting-edge cure for bamboo overgrowth
September 18, 2003
By Howard Garrett

Question: I would like to know whether there is some organic way to get rid of bamboo without damaging my soil.

D.A., Dallas

Answer: Yes, cut the shoots down and use a sharpshooter or ax to sever the shallowly growing rhizomes. The plant will die out in those areas.

Question: Any suggestions for organic control of the phylloxera grape pest infestation? It is similar to a small aphid, forms many galls on the grape leaves, and it is slowly starving the grapevine.

R.W., Dallas

Answer: Use horticultural cornmeal on the soil, cedar mulch on top of that, foliar feed with aerated compost tea and use my entire organic program to develop soil health and a strong natural resistance.

Balancing the chemistry in the soil is also an important part of the solution. Send soil samples to Texas Plant & Soil Lab in Edinburg. This is the only Texas lab that gives organic recommendations. It probably would be worthwhile to also get tissue sample tests to see how well the plants are pulling up nutrients. Call the lab at 956-383-0739, or visit www.txplant-soillab.com.

Question: I have poison oak at different spots around my house. How do I kill it organically?

B.H., Dallas

Answer: Have someone who is not highly allergic to the plant dig it out. Later, spray the young foliage with vinegar as it starts to grow back. To make the vinegar spray, mix 1 gallon of 10 percent, 100-grain straight vinegar with 1 ounce of orange oil and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap.

Question: When is the time to apply corn gluten meal as a weed killer for winter and early spring weeds?

B.C., Dallas

Answer: Now is the right time. Apply it at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. But don't use corn gluten meal if you are overseeding with winter grasses.

Question: My wife and I just bought a house with several shade trees. The grass is not growing beneath the trees.

What should I do to encourage growth? Is there a better grass for shade?

C.C., Dallas

Answer: You have a choice: Let the grass have the sunlight or let the trees have the sunlight.

If you like having nice shade trees and you want plants beneath them, you'll have to change the planting from grass to ground covers that appreciate shade. These include Asian jasmine, English ivy, Persian ivy, liriope, ophiopogon, horseherb or dwarf shade-loving shrubs.

Or you could simply spread mulch under the trees. The best choices would be shredded native cedar, lava gravel or decomposed granite.

If your priority is grass, you'll have to prune the trees severely or cut them down.


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