TX Organic Research Center



Blister beetles earn their names
July 31, 2013
By Howard Garrett

Q: I am not sure what kind of bugs these are, but they are dead when I see them. They chew the leaves of tomato plants just like a hornworm. My turkeys won't eat them.   B.O., Flower Mound

A: These are blister beetles. All blister beetles produce an irritating substance called cantharidin, which can blister the skin. On the other hand, blister beetle larvae will eat grasshopper eggs. Spray with essential-oil products or Surround, a kaolin clay product.

Q: We just moved into an existing home, and my husband hired a lawn guy. The lawn is loaded with weeds and very dry. The lawn guy said it would take four times the amount of organic fertilizer [than a non-organic fertilizer]. I would like to know if that is true. The lawn guy said using the non-organic would be temporary, and I could start using organic in a year. Also, how much Garrett Juice would I need for about one-eighth of an acre?   K.G., Carrollton

A: He is very wrong, that's a typical response by those who don't understand organic techniques. If you apply one application of dry molasses or another organic fertilizer such as EcoSmart and then spray everything with Garrett Juice, your place will look as good  or better than the synthetic products would accomplish in the same amount of time. The new Garrett Juice Pro contains beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizae that will help speed up the results. The normal rate is 35 gallons of spray per acre (about 5 gallons in your case). You would use 2 to 4 ounces of the Garrett Juice Pro concentrate per gallon of spray. Follow the package directions.

 Q: It seems to me that ants do not like coffee grounds. When I spread them around bushes, I do not see any more ant mounds. I am thinking of using a spreader to sprinkle grounds on my St. Augustine lawn. Do you think that would be a mistake?   H.R., Plano

A: It sounds like a good idea.

Q: We are having landscape lights installed. While we think that the lights will look great, we are concerned about the foot-deep trenching 4 feet from the base of our well-established cedar elm and live oak. All roots in the trench were severed. Is there anything we should do to reduce the shock? The lesson we learned was to use a landscape lighting company in the future. We didn't ask enough questions of the electric company that we used.   K.N., Dallas

A: Apply the entire Sick Tree Treatment described on my website. You also might provide them with extra water for several weeks.

 Q: A weed-eater string stripped the bark from an ornamental tree. Can the tree be saved?   D.C., Dallas

A:  A bucketful of Tree Trunk Goop might save it. The free recipe is on my website. In this case, add one cup of lava sand per gallon of Goop, if you have some. Don't wait to find some; time is critical here.   Slather the wet mix on the wound. Next, saturate a piece of burlap with the Goop and wrap the burlap around the wound. Reapply it to keep the burlap moist.

Q: I am building new raised, organic garden beds and need to know what materials are acceptable to use as wall barriers.   W.B., Forney

A: I think the best choices are concrete or natural stone. The most unacceptable choice is railroad ties.


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   About oak sprouts
   After exposing tree’s root flare, leave it alone
   Ailing from harsh summer, crabapple needs treatment
   All we are saying is give trees a chance
   Amount of tilling, not method, is what matters.
   An organic option to control the fleas
   An unwelcome bug is eating ornamental plants
   Antique, container roses are sweeter
   Ants have invaded pots of peppers
   Any way to help heal injured tree?
   Apple and pear trees need little pruning
   Are gnats hanging out on your houseplants? There's hope
   Are mushrooms bad for my yard?
   Are tree galls troublesome?
   Asps won't hurt plants 9-01-2006
   Attracting Birds To The Garden, Composting, Sprayers
   Azalea beds may be incorrectly done
   Baby talc marches against ants
   Bag the worm problem to save tree
   Bald cypress going brown
   Bald cypress roots expose themselves.
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