TX Organic Research Center



Cardboard path shows the way
March 02, 2007
By Howard Garrett

I would like your opinion about using wood chips over cardboard to cover a garden walkway. The path is between raised beds that are bordered by cinder blocks. V.C., Shreveport, LA

ANSWER: That should work fine. The mulch and cardboard will break down over time, so they need to be replenished occasionally.

QUESTION: Is there any kind of seed I can broadcast over a bare lawn at a rent house? The tenants (college students) do not water, so I'm looking for something drought-tolerant. The site is mostly sunny. I'm open to anything green: a cover crop, groundcover or grass seed. S.H., Houston

ANSWER: I would broadcast a mix of Bermuda and buffalo grass seeds after roughing up the soil surface. Watch the weather and try to catch a rain. Even these grasses need some water to germinate and start growing.  In shady spots, plant plugs of horseherb.

QUESTION: Our grandson has had a rash for some time. A doctor thinks it may be caused by bedbugs. Do you have a remedy? P.S., Garland

ANSWER: Treat all cracks, crevices, seams of bedsprings and mattresses, door casings, backs of pictures, electrical switch plates and furniture upholstery with orange oil or d-limonene products, other plant-oil products or natural diatomaceous earth.  Using a capful of a high-quality d-limonene product per washer load will help clean the bedding without harming the fabric.  Using a rinse made with apple cider vinegar after showering also helps.

QUESTION: Would it be beneficial to add a small amount of orange oil to dormant-oil spray for fruit and pecan trees? If so, how much should I add? K.C., Dallas

ANSWER: I think there could be some benefit. The usual rate is 1 to 2 ounces of orange oil per gallon of water. Don't go over 2 ounces for any spray mix that will hit foliage.  Mix the orange oil with horticultural oil, not dormant oil, and limit the orange oil to 1 ounce per gallon. Dormant oil no longer has any use. Horticultural oil is more highly filtered, has fewer weather restrictions and carries less danger of plant damage. It will smother both adult insects and eggs.

QUESTION: Even though it has been cold, moles are tearing up my yard. Last year, they destroyed the St. Augustine lawn.  I have heard that putting dog hair into the moles' burrows will run them off, but I have not tried it. I have used hot-pepper sauce and soap, but the moles just move to another spot. C.T., Springtown

ANSWER: Home remedies sometimes work with these insect-eating mammals. They tunnel to find earthworms, grub worms and insect larvae to eat.  Moles can be controlled to some degree with hot-pepper and castor-oil products or mixtures of these ingredients. Injecting the materials into the ground in the problem areas is more effective than spraying the surface.  Planting castor beans around the perimeter of the yard or garden can help, too.


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