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Dallas Morning News - April 7, 2016

Q.  I have a very large selection of heirloom Iris I want to move to a new residence. What is the best way to accomplish this? I don’t know whether to dig them and put them into buckets or dig and let root dry over summer and plant again in fall.  K. G. Dallas, TX

A.  It would be best to move the plants immediately to the new location. The general rule for the best timing for moving perennials is to do the work in the season opposite the blooming period. Therefore it would be ideal to wait until fall to make the move. The second best time to do the work would be right now. Prepare the new beds first with compost, lava sand, greensand, dry molasses, and whole ground cornmeal. Then dig the irises and move them quickly to the new bed(s) being careful to keep them moist during the transition. Cut the foliage back by about 50% if the work is done now. Plant them at the same height they are currently growing, water them in well and mulch with a thin layer of coarse compost or finely ground shredded tree trimmings.

Q.  Thanks for the informative ‘Bald Cypress Confusion’ article. We had already planned to use a few Dawn Redwoods on a project, and this confirmed our decision. Now though we are having a hard time locating the trees. Do you know a source for Dawn Redwoods? We are in Dallas.  S.Z. Dallas, TX
A.  It appears that you are in the business, so you could get them from Southwest Landscape and other wholesalers. For homeowners, any garden center that has an open mind can get this great plant for you. For people needing a unique tree planting service, either direct or as a subcontractor, try Trees By Woods.

Q. I have 2 Fuji Apple trees. I planted them 4 years ago, and they've been doing great. Last year we had a problem over the entire property with sooty mold that covered everything. I washed the trees down with a mild soapy water and they seemed to be doing fine. Then this past winter we never really had much winter so they did not get their quota of cold. Now spring has sprung and the trees are not putting out leaves. The limbs are alive, but no leaves. Any suggestions? I would really hate to lose them. Also, any suggestions on cutter ants? They particularly love to munch on my pomegranate. I battle them daily with orange oil or baking soda with oil and soap or just flood the hole with water. I'm about ready to dig up the property to find their nest. I would be happy if I could find a way to just get them to move. Any help would be appreciated.  T.B. Seguin, TX
A.  Make sure the flares are dramatically exposed on the apple trees and spray the trees with Garrett Juice with liquid garlic added to the spray. Many fruit trees are performing strangely this year and I think the unusual winter is definitely part of the problem. My entire Organic Fruit and Pecan Tree program is on our website. For best results I recommend following it or something similar. For the Texas cut ants try drenching the big nests with a wetable sulfur solution. Spinosad is probably the best "killing" spray to use when needed but don't spray the trees. That could harm the bees and other pollinators.

Q.  What's the best method of killing about an acre of blossoming goat heads and other little round stickers that stick to your fingers when you try to remove them?  E. E. Dallas, TX
A.  Corn gluten meal is the pre-emergent choice but has to be applied before the weeds germinate. Organic contact killer sprays include BioSafe, BurnOut, Scythe and vinegar mixtures.

Q.  I have a fig tree that bears white figs but only half of the figs mature. The half that doesn't mature is the part with the stem attached to the tree. What can I do so the entire fig matures evenly?  S. C. Carrollton, TX
A.  That's a little unusual. All I can suggest is to apply the Sick Tree Treatment and keep the plant as healthy as possible. That may just be some strange genetics and you might have to try another variety or two.

Q.  Will Indian hawthorn do well in partial shade? A neighbor has some in shade, under some big oak trees, and they seem to do ok. Thanks.  D. R. Fort Worth, TX
A.  Indian hawthorns are beautiful plants and will do OK in shady situations for a while. Long term however, they really do prefer full sun locations. For shade you'll have better luck with hollies, viburnums and aucubas.

Q.  We have a backyard, lush with English ivy. We also have two dogs under the age of 1. They love pulling the ivy out of the ground! Any natural deterrents we can use to stop this? Thank you for your help.  M. G. Fort Worth, TX
A.  Sounds a little gross but this technique usually works. Soak some of the dogs' poop in 5 gallons of water and use a sprinkler can to apply the "tea" to the ivy. The odor doesn't last long and the effect remains after the odor vanishes, but the procedure does need to be repeated in some cases. Other odiferous liquid sprays that sometimes work include hot pepper, garlic and cedar.

Q. Are there any vegetables or other food crops that can be grown in the shade? Q.P. Dallas, TX
A. Most of the greens, mint, chives, scallions, bunch onions, arugula and garlic will do fairly well in partial shade but the crop that can take the most shade is peppers. Both hot and bell peppers will do very well in partial shade and pretty well in full shade. The only difference from sunny locations is that fruit production will usually be a little later in the season. Beans and peas will also do fairly well. On the other hand, most of the other vegetables and herbs including tomatoes, squash, okra, asparagus, cukes and carrots need full sun for best results. All of the fruits need full sun. I will say that my large, heavy producing fig only gets full sun for a few hours midday. Might give that a try. There is some growing anecdotal evidence from gardening friends that even the sun loving crops will benefit from shade cloth or tree shade in the heat of the afternoon.

Q. Are there any schools that teach the organic methods that you recommend? F.G. Dallas
A. No. There are no two-year or four-year schools or universities that teach the natural organic approach, other than a few courses here and there. No overall programs. Old tired paradigms and money from chemical companies still rein supreme. There is an on-line natural organic certification course that has just been produced through the Texas Organic Research Center, a (501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. How to access this course is explained on and


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