QUESTION: Wild rabbits have taken over my neighborhood. Most houses have St. Augustine lawns, but I have Bermuda grass. My grass seems to be the favorite food of these ravenous creatures. They have eaten whole patches of grass down to the roots, and the grass does not regenerate. How can I deter the rabbits? K.M., Plano
ANSWER: You can make a home remedy to repel rabbits by mixing 1 ounce of Tabasco sauce with 1 gallon of water. Spray it on grass and other plants you want to protect. A good commercial repellent is Rabbit Scram.
QUESTION: How can I get rid of weevils in the kitchen? A.M., Dallas
ANSWER: To kill weevils, add 2 ounces of orange oil to a gallon of water and spray it on surfaces in the areas where weevils have been seen. Be careful not to add more orange oil because a strong solution of orange oil acts as a solvent. It can melt plastic and ruin paint finishes.
QUESTION: I have a live oak and a red oak in the front yard that need to be pruned. Should I do this during the fall? The trees have not been pruned in years. M.A., Plano
ANSWER: Trees grow best if you do nothing. Low limbs are not a problem for a tree. However, if you think the appearance needs to be changed, or if low limbs are blocking views, sunlight or access to the property, they can be pruned. Fall is an excellent time to prune. Try to maintain a natural look for the trees after they are pruned. Ask the arborist not to make flush cuts or to paint the cuts.
QUESTION: After applying corn gluten meal, how long must I wait to plant grass seed, grass sod or a ground cover? J.I., Irving
ANSWER: Wait six to eight weeks before planting seeds. There are no restrictions on planting sod or other plants. When applied before seeds germinate, corn gluten meal prevents seeds from forming roots. Its effective period is six to eight weeks. When used around plants, it acts as a fertilizer.
QUESTION: When my chickens hatch their eggs, ants immediately attack and kill the chicks. The chicks sit on the ground, so how can I protect them? T.K., Cisco
ANSWER: When the weather and all surfaces are dry, dust the area and the chickens with Soil Mender Crawling Insect Killer (diatomaceous earth). DE kills ants and other insects that come in contact with it by absorbing their body fluids and dehydrating them. However, diatomaceous earth will not harm chickens or other animals.
QUESTION: I have a pecan tree that is 35 to 40 years old and 45 to 50 feet tall. It typically drops a limb or two each summer. This summer, it dropped three or four branches without high winds or a storm causing it. Today, a branch almost hit me as it fell. What causes this? W.V., Richardson
ANSWER: Dropping branches during the summer is a trait of pecan trees. Keep the tree as healthy as possible by following my Pecan & Fruit Tree Program so that the shedding of branches will be minimal.
QUESTION: I need to control algae growing in a pond. Is it safe to apply cornmeal to a pond that is used as a source of drinking water? Should I buy the yellow cornmeal sold at supermarkets?S.L., Fort Worth
ANSWER: Yellow cornmeal isn't dangerous, but whole ground cornmeal sold at garden centers will work better than supermarket cornmeal. Use 1 cup of whole ground cornmeal per 100 square feet of water or 140 pounds per surface acre.
QUESTION: I have a very large, old silver maple. After a recent storm, I found that a large branch had blown off the tree. When I cut it for disposal, I noticed that there were holes in a pattern around it. Could this be borers? S.L., Bedford
ANSWER: The holes could be an indication of borers. Try to improve the tree's health by aerating the root zone and applying as many organic amendments as your budget allows. At the very least, use compost, Garrett Juice and Thrive by Alpha BioSystems.
QUESTION: I have a 3-year-old peach tree that bears golf-ball-size fruit each year. The peaches do not grow any larger, and they do not ripen. Also, can you recommend a good plum tree variety? We have sandy clay soil. J.S., Union Valley
ANSWER: You may have a bad peach variety that will never do well. To make sure, drench the tree's root zone with Garrett Juice (use about 1 gallon per 50 square feet). This organic mixture encourages fruit set and development. You should see results next year. If you are ready to plant another peach tree, try one or more of the following varieties for good fruit: 'Springold,' 'Ranger,' 'Redskin,' 'Harvester' and 'Loring.' Planting more than one variety will improve your chance of success.