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Dallas Morning News - June 9, 2016

Q. Could you please tell me what this weedy plant is?  J. C. Dallas, TX

A.  Your plant is the native trumpet vineCampsis radicans (KAMP-sis RAD-ee-kans) is high climbing, deciduous vine that grows in sun to part shade. It’s a large, sprawling vine with showy orange and red trumpet-like flowers that bloom all summer. This vine is horribly invasive and difficult to get rid of once it gets a foothold. The only solution short of dynamite or a concrete wall in the ground as a barrier is to remove the mother plant and then spot spray the small shoots that return with the vinegar herbicides or chop them out with a narrow grubbing hoe. 

Q.  Seeing a lot of trees that are hurting this Spring. Do I need to put out iron to treat for chlorosis?  I have also seen several trees that have been hurt by toxic chemical applications. Will Garrett Juice Tree Tonic help with these issues? D.S. Frisco, TX

A.  Super wet and resulting anaerobic soils from the heavy rains have definitely created a problem. The Tree Tonic product and other products that stimulate the biological activity in the soil will help. Increasing the life in the soil helps the tied up nutrients release and become available to the trees and other plants. The Tree Tonic product also contains trace minerals for faster results. The entire Sick Tree Treatment procedure will also help and yes, part of that procedure is green sand.

Q.  Can anything be done to discourage the large wasps called cicada killers? Every year there are at least 5 or 6 of these wasps hovering around the garden looking for the next place to bury their cicadas. I know they don't harm people or eat plants but they are doing damage to the garden. G.P. Irving, TX

A.  I'm glad you understand that these big black and yellow wasps are not dangerous but actually beneficial in controlling the cicada population. They help the biological activity in the soil as well. We should never kill them but to encourage them to move to a site other than your garden, organic repellents might help. I would try these one at a time and see which works best: dry granulated garlic, garlic-pepper tea, crushed red pepper, black pepper, cedar flakes and cedar oil.

Q.  I've made some concentrated Garrett Juice for spraying and drenching ant mounds. How do you recommend I store it between uses? Room temp, refrigerator or just outside in the shade. I made a double batch! Does it "go bad"?  C. T. Byron, GA

A.  It will last the longest in the refrigerator but I usually just kept mine in an un-airconditioned room out of direct sun. It won't go bad, even over months of storage but will develop some clumpiness due to the biological activity in the mix. Just strain the solids out before using or use the clumpy stuff for pouring on the soil around plants.

Q.  I have this plant (weed) growing in my front yard starting last year and it appears to be getting worse. (See attached)  It becomes green and slimy when it gets wet. I would like to know how I could get rid of this so that grass starts growing.  A. G.  Dallas, TX

A.  These blobs of green gel are colonies of nostoc that is bacteria get their energy through photosynthesis. When on the ground, nostoc is ordinarily not seen, but after a rain it swells up into the green jelly-like mass. Once thought to have fallen from the sky it has the common names - star jelly and troll’s butter. It dries to a black crust but comes back to its green life when there is sufficient moisture. To discourage its growth, improve drainage and eliminate synthetic fertilizer use. Vinegar and fatty acid herbicides can be used to kill it in lawns if it bothers you but there is really nothing harmful about it.  N. muscorum is known to have major impacts on soil structure, chemistry and biology. In some countries such as Peru nostoc is used as a seasonal dietary item, being eaten alone or in picante -- a local stew -- and is said to be highly nutritious. More on that later!

Q.  I have a 4-foot by 4-foot by 4-foot wood frame compost bin lined with 1/2 inch hardware cloth.  How do you suggest I get rid of fire ants in the compost bin?  They bite me when I work with the compost.  K. M. Dallas, TX

A.  Try adding a 50/50 mix of cornmeal and dry molasses into the pile. I’d try about a gallon of each and mix into the compost. A little extra applied to the surface of the compost after the mixing will also help. 

Q.  Have so many tomatoes - great spring! Some are small & large.  They are turning red. Why are some mushy even off the same bush? Thanks for your help.  S. W. Dallas, TX

A.  May be the heavy rain and could be blossom end rot. For the rot, apply organic fertilizers that contain alfalfa and drench the root zone with Epsom salts at 1 tablespoon per gallon of water. Adding this mix to the Garrett Juice spraying will speed up the process as will applying cornmeal and garlic to the root zone.

Q.  Is there a problem planting heirloom tomatoes of different varieties next to each other?  S. W. Garden City, MO

A. No problem at all. I think it is important to plant a mixture of varieties to provide the best odds for success as the weather conditions change – as is always the case here in Texas and most the rest of the country.

Q.  A neighbor has this bug in abundance and it's destroying her landscape. Have you seen it before? Know of any effective control?  R. C. San Antonio, TX

A.  Looks like keeled treehopper nymphs - rare pest. I’ve never run into them before. Try these, in this order: garlic pepper tea, orange oil and spinosad. Let us know which one works best.

Q.  How much microbe product should be used when mixing with Garrett Juice Plus per gallon of water?  N. B. Dallas, TX

A.  Just follow the label directions of whatever microbe product you use. It will vary depending on the product you choose. If you don't want to deal with mixing, just use the Garrett Juice Pro product. It has the beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizal fungus in the product.

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