TX Organic Research Center



Corn Gluten Meal, Termites, Plumeria, Crossvine, Inland Seaoats
September 20, 2002
By Howard Garrett

It's time for the Natural Weed and Feed.  For the control of annual (germinating from seed) winter weeds, apply corn gluten meal at 20 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. now through October 15th or so. Corn gluten meal is also a powerful organic fertilizer but will control such cool season plants such as clover, henbit, poa annua, chickweed and others. The garden centers and feed stores should have it in stock now under several brand names. Itís available in granulated as well as powdered form.

Q. Iíve discovered termites in my organic vegetable garden. They are quite apparent when I dig in the garden and this year theyíve devoured my wooden tomato stakes. I know how to remedy the tomato stake problem. Iíd like to be rid of the termites but donít want to use toxic chemicals in my garden soil. I donít want to drive them toward my house either. Help! Ė D.K., Dallas

A. Termites are beneficial in the garden. They help break down organic matter to build the soil. Keeping them in the garden and out of the house is done by preventing leaks and wet wood in the house. Beneficial nematodes are the natural control to be used in the soil around the foundation.

Q. We just returned from Hawaii and I loved the fragrances in the air, especially the plumeria. Can that be grown here at all? The bougainvillea was everywhere there and different colors and since I have trouble getting mine to bloom, I wondered if I need to use a lot of lava sand. Perhaps that is what helps them bloom over there so well. Any suggestions on what I can plant to get more fragrance in my garden? Ė K.S., Commerce, TX

A. Both can be grown here in the summer if protected in the winter. Lava sand will help as will letting the soil dry out between waterings. Liquid organic fertilizers used regularly will also help. Other plants for fragrance include sweet Autumn clematis, kidneywood, black locust, Eveís necklace, Texas mountain laurel, bush or winter honeysuckle, fragrant sumac, fragrant ash, antique roses, wisteria, scented geraniums, petunias, rosemary, mints monardas, basil, yarrow, thyme, sweet (Mexican mint) marigold, sweet Annie, sweet myrtle, Mexican oregano, little leaf linden and Carolina basswood.

Q. I have one wall of my house facing east. Itís all brick and that side of the house gets really hot. I tried once to plant some vines to shade the house, but the direct sunlight was too much and they were cooked. Can you recommend a vine that could stand the heat? And, should I let the vines climb the side of the house or should I build something they can cling to? Ė C.H., Dallas

A. Take a look at the native cross vine. It is evergreen and has red and yellow or solid red flowers in the spring. It does need wires to help get the vertical growth get going. In brick, itís best to use masonry nails and strong wire.

Q. I have quite a lot of inland sea oats and would like to transplant some. Do I need to transplant or just collect seed heads and plant them? When is the best time to do this? Ė C.B., Dallas

A. As soon as the seed turn brown, they can be harvested and sown wherever else you want them growing. If you donít harvest the seed before they fully mature and start to shatter, you wonít have to worry about planting them. They will be growing everywhere. The seed heads can also cut off as they mature but before they start to shatter and used indoors as a beautiful dry flower arrangement. Inland seaoats can also be easily divided and transplanted in the fall and winter.

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