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Dallas Morning News - July 21, 2016


JULY ORGANIC MAINTENANCE

Q.  How do I get rid of bamboo permanently? Someone living in a home that backs up to a house that we own planted bamboo many years ago and it has invaded the entire easement in back of several houses. We would all like to rid ourselves of this invasive plant but don't know how. Thanks in advance for your expert advice.  M. S. Plano, TX
A.  To control the spread of bamboo, the first step is to knock the shoots down in the spring. As you know, they grow very fast, so this work has to be done daily. Kick them over or slash them off with a machete, which is highly satisfying. Then use a sharpshooter shovel or a hoe to probe the soil and find the underground stems (rhizomes) that the shoots grew from. Trace the rhizomes back toward the plants that will be left and use the sharpshooter or other tool to sever the runners every couple of feet. They do not have to be dug out of the ground. I have killed large areas of bamboo with this technique. Without top growth, cut runners will die.
​If you wish the bamboo to be completely gone, cut all the top growth to the ground now and use the same procedure explained above over the entire growth area. This works because bamboo doesn't grow back well from the rhizomes when the runners are severed and there is no top growth. In case you are wondering, herbicides do not work at all.


Q.  I know that you recommend bigtooth maple. I have a maple tree that needs to be replaced. It has sunscald on the west side and has struggled since day one. Is the bigtooth maple a good replacement here in North Arlington.  R. L. Arlington, TX
A.  The hybrid maples commonly have sunscald and other issues. I learned the hard way years ago after putting several of them on commercial projects. Bigtooth maple is far superior and will do very well in Arlington. It will be a little hard to find but worth the effort. Others worth considering include trident maple and Shantung maple.


 

Q.  Do you know of a sprayer I can use with the 10% vinegar? I need battery powered. The one I bought from Chapin, does not. The sprayer failed in a Month. J. C. Somonauk, IL
A.  Try one of the backpack sprayers. The one I use is the Stihl. The hand pump mechanism is very easy to use. Make sure to rinse it or any sprayer well after each use.


 

Q.  We have okra that is growing finally with the hotter temps, but it has only produced 2 flowers and then of course 2 pods. It is green, no sign of issues with bugs, growing bushy this year whereas the last time we used these same seeds it grew just straight up to about 9 feet. What do you suggest the problem might be for not producing any flowers? The brand of seed is Organic Ferry-Morse, Clemson Spineless #80. We had really good results with this seed the first year we planted it. Thanks for your help! D. D. Throckmorton, TX
A.  One of the problems is the intense heat that followed the cool, rainy season. That variety you chose is good. You'll probably still have some good production but make sure to foliar feed the plant every couple of weeks. I assume you have already used a granular organic fertilizer at 2 lbs. per 100 sq.ft.

Q.  I have clay soil in SW Fort Worth. My wife wants to plant two Crape Myrtles and wants a large variety. The space in question isn’t limited. What variety do you recommend and how far apart should they be planted? My wife would like them to grow together when mature. Are there any specific planting / care instructions other than your basic organic program and to ensure a crazy exposed flare? I’d also like to plant a live oak on the other side of my yard and I’ve got the same questions. I’ve planted a bur oak and magnolia following your instructions and they’re both great. Last question. Where can I purchase a rusty blackhaw viburnum? I’ve heard you talk about them for a long time and I’ve checked out all your pics online and we’d like one but I’ve looked for a good long while and I can’t find them. J. C. Fort Worth, TX
A.  Some of the best crape myrtles to consider include these: 'Hopi' has light pink flowers bloom for more than three months and it has gray exfoliating bark. Fall color is reddish-orange. 'Zuni' has large purple flowers and blooms over three months. Fall color is orange and red. Peeling gray bark is very attractive in winter.  'Cheyenne' has  true red blooms for up to three months, followed by yellow-orange fall foliage. Light brown bark peels away to expose reddish-tan trunks. 'Acoma' has white blooms for three months. Fall color is reddish-purple and its cream-colored bark peels away to expose tan trunks. It is a smaller and more cold tolerant than the popular 'Natchez' variety. Spacing should be 15-20'. Planting using the basic organic program with the flares dramatically exposed is all that's needed for any tree planting. You'll just have to call around for the rusty blackhaw viburnum. Any garden center should be able to get it for you. Also, the non-profits operations like Heard Museum in McKinney, Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park and others have annual plants sales and usually have this great tree. I'm glad the organic program is working well for you.
 
 
 
 
 

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