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Organic Gardening & Living Advice



Whatís a local seed source for butterfly-attracting plants?
February 19, 2015
By Howard Garrett

 

Question: I am interested in buying seeds for plants that attract butterflies. I bought Mexican milkweed last year, but I canít find frostweed seeds locally. It seems very expensive to order from out-of-town companies. Do you know anybody locally who handles seeds? B.P., Dallas

Answer: Check with Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg or Native American Seed Co. in Junction. Some of the local retailers should have seeds from these two companies.

Question: How much should sweet almond verbena be trimmed in spring? Our verbena is still young and about 9 feet tall. L.M., Southlake

Answer: Thatís a subjective question. Some of my almond verbenas die all the way to the ground. Those should be cut back to just above the ground. New shoots will emerge in spring. I usually remove all but two or three of the strongest-looking shoots.

Plants that are in weather-protected locations and still have living stems can be left to grow into even bigger plants, if you wish. If not, cut the plant back to about 3 feet. Almond verbena is a very flexible plant as well as one of the most fragrant and best pollinator-attracting plants available.

Question: When you talk about using whole ground cornmeal, Iím pretty sure itís different from corn gluten meal, but I canít seem to find whole ground cornmeal anywhere in my area. The question I have: Will corn gluten meal still have the same anti-fungal properties as whole ground cornmeal? I have some black spot on roses that Iím trying to get rid of. G.R., Midlothian

Answer: Corn gluten meal does have some of the same disease-fighting properties as whole cornmeal, but it is considerably more expensive. The feed stores near you should have the whole ground product in stock. If not, they can get it from the usual distributors. Use either one at about 2 pounds per 100 square feet as a soil treatment. It also will help the roses to spray them with hydrogen peroxide added to the Garrett Juice spray, which you can concoct yourself (see my website) or buy as a concentrate. Use about a quart per gallon of spray mix.

Question: I want to make a Garrett Juice concentrate for my hay pasture. How many cow patties would I put into a 55-gallon drum? Would I use dried ones or fresh ones? T.R., Fort Worth

Answer: Basically, manure tea is made by filling the container with manure to its midpoint and adding water to the top of the drum. This makes a concentrate that can be diluted for spraying. The strength depends on the age of the manure and the length of time it soaks. Itís more art than science because of the variables involved.

The good news is that manure tea works well to feed foliage and stimulate microbes at a wide range of strengths. It works best when mixed with apple cider vinegar, liquid seaweed and liquid molasses ó turning the mix into Garrett Juice.

 

Question: How much diatomaceous earth should I add to a half cup of dog food? The label says not to put more than 2 percent of the volume of food. I donít want to overdose, and what would happen if I did?P.R., Mineral Wells

Answer: Use about one level teaspoon of natural diatomaceous earth. If there were 100 pieces in a cup, 2 percent would be about as much as two pieces of the dog food. I think the worst thing that happens in the case of overdose is that the dog wouldnít eat it.

Question: My sister in Arizona wants to plant vegetables. We have read your information on bed preparation. Do the same principles and practices (using lava sand, Garrett Juice, etc.) work in Arizona? Her climate is different, and she believes we plant at different times, so would you also have a gardening calendar for her climate or is it the same as Texas? C.Z., Dallas

Answer: The bed preparation and fertilizer techniques are the same. My Basic Organic Program works from coast to coast and border to border if timing and plant selections are adjusted for climate and soil types. Check with the local experts about the timing, but you can teach them about the organic approach.

 
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