TX Organic Research Center



Can live oak trees survive after a backhoe cuts their roots?
December 26, 2009
By Howard Garrett


QUESTION: A contractor dug around my live oaks with a backhoe and cut the roots 3 or 4 feet from the trunks. Some of the roots were as large as 4 inches in diameter. Can I save the trees?D.B.., Groesbeck

ANSWER: Yes. Use my Sick Tree Treatment, and ask the contractor to pay for the materials you will need. If you act quickly, the trees probably will be growing again by spring.

QUESTION: I harvested many habanero chiles, which I use to make garlic-pepper spray to repel pests in the garden. Should I pickle, dry or purée the peppers to preserve them for use in next year's spray? G.N., Carrollton

ANSWER: Try all three methods to see which one works best.

How can I minimize damage to my trees after the electric company pruned them severely? R.T., San Juan

ANSWER: Use my Sick Tree Treatment and hope that the trees weren't stressed too much by the surgery. To avoid severe pruning by utility companies in the future, hire a certified arborist to prune tree limbs before they get near power lines.

QUESTION: I have many weeds in my back yard. After I pull them, they always grow back, usually thicker than before. How can I get rid of them? N.B., Carrollton

ANSWER: After the first hard freeze, when warm-season turf goes dormant, spray the lawn with a vinegar-based herbicide or a fatty-acid herbicide such as Scythe. I have a recipe for a homemade vinegar herbicide on the Web site. This will kill cool-season weeds when they are small.  To prevent summer weeds, spread corn gluten meal on the lawn during the spring before weed seeds germinate and spray the turf monthly with Garrett Juice mixed with Thrive by Alpha BioSystems (mix 2 ounces of Garrett Juice and 2 ounces of Thrive with a gallon of water). Spray about 1 gallon of mix per 100 square feet.

QUESTION: After recent rains, mounds made by Texas leaf-cutting ants sprang up all over our yard and pasture. In addition, ground squirrels and moles are digging in the yard.. How can I get rid of these pests? J.W., Seguin

ANSWER: Mole Scram will repel moles, and a drench made with wettable sulfur will kill the ants. To make a drench, mix 4 tablespoons of wettable sulfur with a gallon of water. (Hi-Yield makes one brand of wettable sulfur.) I received a recent report that pouring drench into an ant mound more than once killed the ants. I don't have a solution for ground squirrels.

QUESTION: Our soil has a high clay content that we would like to remedy. It seems to be causing dead spots in the lawn, and we would like to stop using synthetic fertilizers. R.M., DeSoto

ANSWER: Organic amendments will improve soil quality by increasing biological activity. First, apply dry molasses to the lawn at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Then, spray the lawn with Garrett Juice mixed with Thrive by Alpha BioSystems (mix 2 ounces of Garrett Juice and 2 ounces of Thrive with a gallon of water). Spray about 1 gallon of mix per 100 square feet.

QUESTION: A white fungus is growing on the hearth in my house. I cleaned it off and used bleach on the grout, but the fungus keeps coming back. Do you have any suggestions? K.S., Plano

ANSWER: Don't use bleach. Instead, spray Bio-Wash by 1st Enviro Safety Inc. or Soil Mender Plant Wash. Follow label directions, and the fungus should be eliminated.


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