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Cull gnats by reducing watering

Q:  I have a bad fungus gnat problem on my houseplants. I have tried cider vinegar, a layer of sterilized sand on top of the soil, and Safer Insect Killing Soap. My soil is organic potting mix, and the pots are plastic. I was told fungus gnats love peat moss, so I should use a potting mix that contains coconut coir instead of peat. I'm ready to make my own potting mix and repot all of my plants, but I want to know what ingredients should be in the mix. Also, should I use clay pots instead of plastic?B.A., Frisco

A: Clay pots are always better than plastic; compost and coir (coconut fiber) are always better than peat moss. Soap products are not very good to use on the soil. Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) products are effective on fungus gnats, but cutting back on watering goes a long way toward solving the problem.

Q:  I have a small 'Harvester' peach on which I've been using the organic treatments for several years. I sprayed the tree in winter with an organic dormant fruit tree spray and then right before bloom in spring with Garrett Juice. I also sprayed after blooms began to drop and then another time as fruit was growing.  The peaches were completely wormy. The few that we did get were wonderful, but it was a real disappointment. What did I do wrong? I also used Garrett Juice as a root drench and did use a Medina Organic fertilizer once. The tree and fruit were beautiful, but the crop is a washout.F.D., Richardson

A: The fruit trees are probably too deep in the ground. Carefully remove the soil covering the trunk flares and apply the entire Sick Tree Treatment. The deep planting is by far the most common cause of problems with fruit-bearing trees.

Q:  How do I get rid of red spider mites on tomatoes? B.H., North Richland Hills

A: Spray Garrett Juice Plus (which you can buy bottled or mix yourself; see the free recipe on my website) mixed with 1 tablespoon of BioWash per gallon. Orange oil also can be added at 2 ounces per gallon. Spray weekly until control is achieved, and then change to a monthly application. I just retired and have started a small flower garden. I prepared the bed using your recommended program.

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