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Dallas Morning News - May 19, 2016

Q.  Can you tell me what this large grub is? I found them in one of my pot plants and one around a big tree - five all together.  J. C. Dallas, TX

A.  It's the grubworm (larva) of some kind of beetle. May be June bug but the head is usually not that red. Beneficial nematodes are the control of destructive grubworms and will control other pests such as fire ants, grubs, fleas and ticks as well. It's important to note that only about 10% of the grubs eat and hurt plant roots. The other 90% feed on dead and decaying organic matter and are helping by aerating the soil. The largest grubworms are the larvae of the rhinoceros beetle. They usually are not destructive but sometimes can be, especially in pots. Treat if you think there is damage occurring but with only with nematodes.

Q. Please tell me the best way to plant red yucca seeds. Thank you.  J. B. Cedar Hill, TX
A.  Let the flowers bloom through the summer. When the seedpods mature in the late summer and fall, they will turn brown and start to break open. Harvest the flat black seeds and plant them immediately in coarse organic potting soil. Keep the flats protected through the winter in a greenhouse type environment in the range of 50 - 70 degrees. Keep the soil moist but not sopping wet. Timing varies but at least some of the seed should germinate and start to grow by spring. Seedlings can be transferred to pots after they are a few inches tall.

Q.  I'm trying to grow roses from seeds without much success. I need some advice as to why this is happening, and what to do about it.  D. H. Lindale, TX
A.  Harvest the rose hips when they are red and ripe in the late summer or fall. Some rose hips will turn yellow, orange or even stay green when they are ripe. You can open the hips as soon as harvested or store in the refrigerator for a while before opening. Slice the hips in half, dig the seeds out and throw away the pulp and shell. Soak the seeds in a mix of Garrett Juice (ready to use) and 3% peroxide mixed 50-50 for 24 hours. Place the seeds about 1/4 inch deep in flats or pots in lightweight organic potting soil. Water well and place outside in direct sunlight as spring starts to break but protect the flats or pots during freezing weather and don't let them dry out.

Q.  We would like to plant buffalo grass in an area that is sunny and shady. The sunny area is sometimes shady, and the shady area is sometimes sunny. I have read about the ‘Sapphire’ variety being suitable for both sun and shade. What would you recommend, and where could we buy this in the form of sod? Thank you for your help.  J. G. Flower Mound, TX
A.  Sapphire is an interesting sounding buffalograss for sure, but isn't available yet here in the states. It might be better for now to consider Zeon zoysia or Palmetto St. Augustine.

Q.  Have many small trees to be cut down but will need to apply something
to kill stumps. Any suggestions? Also just planted a rose bush that only is getting mid-day sun. The leaves are turning yellow. Planting stress? Too much water? Not enough water? Thanks for all your help!  M. K. Dallas, TX
A.  Probably all the rain and not enough full sun. Apply granulated garlic to the soil and spray the roses with BioSafe Disease Control. For the trees, drill holes in the stumps, fill the holes with molasses and cover it all with shredded native tree trimmings.

Q.  How often should I spray the garlic pepper tea for prevention of disease?
Also, if I don't use all of the solution at once, can it be stored and if so, for how long?  S. M. Tyler, TX
A.  Garlic-pepper tea and other organic sprays can be saved for months, especially if kept refrigerated. Remember to always use plastic containers and loose fitting lids.

Q.  I believe I have tomato blight on one of my plants or verticillium wilt. 
I've been organic forever, listened to you forever. This is a big box store plant, a gift from dear old Dad. I love him to death, but he thought the world ended when carcinogenic garden chemicals began to be banned. I've never experienced this in my own garden. How do I combat it?  J. F. Palo Pinto, TX
A.  The common disease on tomatoes has yellow leaves on the base of the plant and they move up the plant as times goes by. The usual diagnosis of these symptoms is early blight although there are other diseases that look similar. The good news is that the prevention and/or cures are the same for all these pathogens. Start by using the usual bed preparation amendments - compost, rock minerals and sugars. Whole ground cornmeal is essential to be included. Then the plants can be sprayed with cornmeal tea, garlic-pepper tea or the commercial hydrogen peroxide product called BioSafe.

Q.  I saw on the web that largest pecan tree in Texas was 8ft in diameter. I have one in my yard that is 9ft. 7in. Please let me know if I am right. Thanks. It is approximately 80 feet wide. I’ll send photos. G. S. 
A.  I was afraid you were thinking circumference. The diameter of your tree is about 3' - beautiful tree. The champion has a diameter of 8'. The circumstance of the tree is over 20'. The Champion Pecan Tree in Weatherford, Texas is owned by the Finch family and they are delighted to have you visit. Their farm and the tree are three miles north of the downtown square, on the right side of Highway 51. The property is a white house on the right as you start up the hill from a new bridge over a creek.  Check in at the house and then walk past the barn and across a dry creek to the tree. The Finches welcome you, but please be respectful to their property and the tree. Leave your card or a note on where you're from. This tree was proclaimed the national champion some years ago, but later was supposedly surpassed by a tree in Georgia. I need to see that tree to believe it. There is a picture of the award in my Texas Trees book. This tree has the following specs - trunk diameter 8', crown spread 159' and height 118".  

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