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Is slime mold hazardous to a shrub?
March 18, 2015
By Howard Garrett

Knock slime mold off the stem of the plant if desired, but it doesnít hurt anything growing on the mulch. If you want to kill it, spray with baking soda and water (1 tablespoon per gallon of water).

Question:  The photo shows my organic bed with a sage bush. Is this slime mold? Do you have a remedy?  P.R., Houston

Answer: Thatís the prettiest slime mold Iíve seen. Knock it off the stem of the plant, but it doesnít hurt anything growing on the mulch. If you want to kill it, spray it well with 1 tablespoon of baking soda mixed with 1 gallon of water.

Question: I need a grass alternative for my backyard that stands up to big dogs, grows in clay and full shade and is drought-tolerant. A bonus would be a thick carpet and low growth needing no mowing. I was thinking more on the lines of ground cover ó horse herb or green carpet. Iíve been told ground cover can be a great drought-resistant alternative, but is that something that would really work? S.D., Plano

Answer: Thatís easy. Itís called synthetic grass. Live, drought-tolerant grass will not grow in the shade, especially with dogs running on it. Ground cover could be a solution, but the dogs would need to be contained in a dog run and not have access to the plants.

I have access to organic sheep fertilizer. Can I put it on my tomato plants in containers? If so, how much and how often? C.T., Garland

Answer: If it is well composted, 2 inches of manure can be shoveled on the beds and mixed into the soil. If it is fresh and not well composted, use much smaller amounts to prevent it burning the plants. Composting first is highly recommended.

Question: My amaryllis bulbs that have been outside for years have stopped blooming. The 12 or so bulbs were planted in an east-facing bed about 10 years ago. I always got 3 to 4 blooms per stalk until 2010. That was the year of the deep, wet snowfall and we had the paint on our brick sand-blasted. I was told they donít bloom because they were too near the surface. Unfortunately, I just dug them up so they wonít be trampled while new windows are installed. The root system was beautiful. Now, how do I help them bloom when I replant? D.K., Duncanville

Answer: Just get them back in the ground as soon as possible and see what happens. This yearís flower display will probably be weak but the plants should be fine long term, since it sounds like they are hardy varieties. If the beds arenít prepared well, that should be done first with compost, rock minerals and sugars.

Question: We are in Parker County and need an arborist to work on several large oaks. A tree service advertises in our area. Do you know of a company in the area that you would suggest?R. H., Poolville

Answer: Ask tree companies if they use the air spade to do trunk flare work and do they use organic fertilizers. If you get a yes answer to both, they should be fine to use.

Question: We have a weekend place about 20 miles north of Ardmore, Okla. Do you think I can grow peonies there or is that still not north enough? V.G., Dallas

Answer: They should do well there.

Question: Do liquid lawn aeration products work as well as the old-fashioned plug aeration?G.W., Allen

Answer: In some cases they work better. Applying 3 percent hydrogen peroxide mixed with Garrett Juice is my favorite method where conditions make it difficult to use mechanical aeration equipment. You can find the free recipe to make your own Garrett Juice on my website or you can buy the concentrate from retailers who stock organic garden products.

Question: We have just moved to Frisco from Illinois. Because of the different grass type and soil here, is it better to use a mulching mower or a bagging mower here in North Texas?  G.S., Frisco

Answer: Itís always better to mulch the clippings into the turf. Iíd get rid of the grass catcher so you wonít be tempted to use it. Welcome to Texas.

Question: I drowned two fruit trees by watering all night. They look like there is some life left. Is there anything I can do to help them? E.H., Dallas

Answer: It shouldnít be a problem any more than the nonstop rain. Just let things dry out and donít water again until the soil has drained well. Then start the organic fruit and pecan tree program that is explained under Guides on the home page of DirtDoctor.com.

Question: I planted a Mexican plum in my backyard, mostly for the early spring flowers. The tree is at least six years old, but it has never bloomed profusely. Now it occurs to me it has never produced one plum. My property is organic. My garden is visited by pollinators. Does a plum require a second plum to cross-pollinate and produce fruit? M.G., Dallas

Answer: No, but it doesnít sound like the tree is healthy. Uncover the flare and the tree will probably bloom and produce fruit.


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