Question: I have what my grandfather called a Ponderosa lemon tree that he brought from Mexico around 1905. It produces three or four grapefruit-size lemons per year, but it blooms more often with very fragrant blossoms. The tree has been in the same pot for more than 15 years and undoubtedly is root-bound. I'd like to repot it, but I don't want to risk harming it. Can you recommend how to care for it? D.M., Dallas
Answer: Use my Basic Organic Program for the maintenance of your tree (see Resources to request a handout). Repot the tree this fall or winter. Be sure to cut away the circling roots on the outside of the root ball before putting it into the new pot. Protect the tree from freezing temperatures by placing it in the sunniest place possible. A greenhouse is the best location. Move the pot into a sunny location outdoors in the spring. Use Garrett Juice as a drench and root stimulator once a month. To make it, add 1 ounce of molasses, 1 ounce of liquid seaweed and 1 ounce of apple cider vinegar to a gallon of compost tea.
Question: What can be done to rid a native cactus of bugs that cover the leaves with a white web? The bugs have spread on our cactus and are destroying the leaves and anything they attach themselves to. This particular cactus is more than 10 years old. D.A., Richardson
Answer: Spray the plant with garlic tea to repel the bugs. Ground cornmeal gently worked into the soil surface also should help. Make sure the cactus is not being overwatered. The recent rainy season may have been part of the problem, but drainage also is important.
Question: In April 2003, I planted three Texas sage shrubs on the west side of my house. They have never looked really healthy or filled out. They look scraggly. One has died. Could they be getting too much water since they are in a planting bed? Do I need to move the other two into a more open location? M.S., Dallas
Answer: Probably so. Texas sage is a drought-tolerant plant that can't stand "wet feet."
Question: I am looking for information about caring for my Tiff 419 Bermuda grass year-round. My current program consists of organic products, but I am still not happy with the results. I understand that an organic program is not an overnight fix, but I have been using organics for three years. A combination of molasses, seaweed, fish emulsion and Medina Plus is sprayed on the landscape every two weeks. And I have compost blown onto the yard in early February. Is there something I am missing? I also cannot seem to get a definitive answer as to how high to set my lawn mower blade. E.B., San Antonio
Answer: You can mow the grass at any height you like. Assuming that it's in full sun, applying lava sand and dry molasses may help. For weeds, use corn gluten meal instead of fertilizer, and spray between Christmas and New Year's Day with a solution of 1 gallon of 10 percent vinegar, 1 ounce of orange oil and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap.