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Dallas Morning News - April 21, 2016

Q.  I had a pear tree that I had planted too deep. This winter I dug it up and planted it several inches higher.  Now it won’t leaf out.  All my other trees (except for a small persimmon) have leafed out.  Is there anything I can do to help it? Also, when we buy a plant and its roots are all rolled up together, what should I do?  Try to unroll them?

Thanks so much! B. W.
A.  For the pear use the overall Sick Tree Treatment with a thorough drenching of the root zone with Garrett Juice. Spraying the tree as well is important. The best way to solve circling and girdling root problems is to soak the rootball in water. After complete hydration, the problem roots can be unwound and spread out.

Q.  What is the name of the product you recommend for patching trunks of  oaks? The tree suffered a crack in the trunk about 5 feet off the ground during a violent windstorm last year. The tree has survived but the break in the trunk needs repair. The tree’s bark is loosening from the main trunk. The cracks in the bark are substantial. The new leaves are there but they have a lime green/ yellowish cast to them. Any ideas?
A.  The treatment for any damage to the bark of woody plants is called Tree Trunk Goop. It is made by mixing equal amounts of soft rock phosphate, compost and natural diatomaceous earth with water. Slather this slurry on wounded areas and reapply if rain or irrigation washes it off. It works as a natural fertilizer in the soil as well. In your case it sounds like the damage might be serious enough to have a consulting arborist take a look and give you some advice.

Q.  Can you please send me some information on control of Poa annua? I put corn gluten down and I am getting weeds still coming up. Is it ok to put more corn gluten down or should I use the liquid kind?  M. F. Fort Worth, TX
A.  Corn gluten meal can be used on a regular basis, but don't overdo it. CGM is a pretty high nitrogen fertilizer and too much nitrogen can lead to disease issues which are more trouble than a few weeds. Once a month would probably be OK. The specific weed, Poa annua, will burn out pretty soon as the hot weather moves in.

Q.  I have hundreds of tiny white flying bugs on my plants - I practice organic, have for years, so I used Medina orange oil and water and sprayed them. They seemed to have died about one week ago. Today, there seems to be more of them! So, I sprayed them again with the same mixture. Am I doing something wrong?  L. L. Dallas, TX
A.  White flies are tough to control. You may need to resort to using spinosad. You can mix it with Garrett Juice or with just water. Also apply granulated garlic to the soil or the new cornmeal product that has garlic mixed in. The mixed product is under the Good Natured brand. Spinosad will not hurt butterflies or bees if used carefully just on the infested plant. When sprayed all over the site and it hits the beneficials, it will hurt them. It is a product made from living organisms but has been reported to disorient bees. Use the cornmeal and/or garlic first to change the conditions that might have brought the white flies in to begin with.

Q. I travel around the country for business and I am always looking at the trees and plants in an area. I was recently visiting my folks in North Carolina and noticed all the trees along their street had the mulch stacked up high on the trunks of the trees. It was not only on my parent’s trees but every neighbor around them. I spent the rest of my trip noticing this is very prevalent around North Carolina. I told my folks they should have their landscape service remove it to help the trees grow. He told them this is the way to do it in the Carolinas. Not sure if your radio show is broadcast in the Carolinas, it looks to me it should be. I will keep after my folks to get this fixed at least on their property. I always listen to your show via podcasts while I am flying. Keep up the good teachings.  K. S. Southlake, TX
A.  Unfortunately, we see this mistake a lot. The landscape companies just have not been taught correctly. We have just released a Natural-Organic Certification program for landscape contractors, growers and homeowners. Hopefully we can help the landscape industry with this program.

Q.  We have a new weeping peach planted about 6 weeks ago. It's not looking too good. I removed all soil from the tree trunk and root ball. Is it too early to apply the sick tree treatment?  B. D. Grapevine, TX
A.  Never too early. Apply it right away and keep the area mulched but don't pile the mulch up on the trunk of the tree.

Q.  Could you please tell me if this is horseherb or if it is actually a weed?  J. C. Dallas, TX
A.  No, that’s a real weed called Virginia buttonweed. It can be controlled with the organic herbicide Agralawn Crabgrass Killer. Horseherb has smaller leaves and tiny yellow flowers.

Q.  I've just gotten a lot of dirt work done, and I need to know how to bring the soil back to a useable nature. I live north of Tyler, and the soil is heavy red clay mixed with iron ore rock, of varying sizes. I would like to plant trees, and grass, but I'm fairly sure it wouldn't grow well the way it is now. Just digging in it is a chore, and I've got enough extremely large iron ore boulders to build a considerable size wall. Thanks.  D. H. Lindale, TX
A. Bed prep is the same no matter what the soil. Here is where you can find all the details I recommend.

Q.  Are the wild onions safe to eat?  M. K. Dallas, TX
A.  Yes - if they are truly wild onions. A very similar plant is crow poison and it is indeed somewhat poisonous. It looks almost the same but doesn't have the onion smell. Both are considered wildflowers and both can be controlled easily with the organic herbicides if necessary.

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