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Dallas Morning News - May 26, 2016

Q. We made the mistake of putting a double application of Azomite on our front lawn (first application one month ago, second application yesterday). It rained last night. Have we killed all of the grass that we have tried so hard to nurture (Augustine, Bermuda mix)? J. J. Irving, TX

A.  Shouldn’t be a problem at all. You could probably grow plants in containers with nothing but Azomite as the growing medium.

Q.  How do I get rid of chiggers in my garden and St. Augustine grass and keep them gone. I have a 2-year-old grandchild that comes over and goes outside to play and he gets covered in them. They get on me also when I sit down in my garden. B. O. Red Oak, TX
A.  Sulfur dust is a good repellent. So is lemonmint, also called horsemint (Monarda citriodora). Both can be used on the body and on the site. Spraying the essential oil products can help and dusting dry garlic, cinnamon and/or cedar can also help. Take a hot, soapy bath to remove larvae. Stop the itching with baking soda, vinegar, aloe vera or comfrey juice.

Q.  Could you please tell me how to kill clump bamboo?  J. C. Highlands, TX
A.  Clumping bamboo is even easier than the spreading kind. Just dig it out and be done.

Q. Howard I hired a guy to clear out a flower bed, pull ivy and rake limbs. I was going to then expose root flares and mulch. As he left my wife said he said he spread poison to kill the ivy - not part of the job I hired him to! I don't know what he put down I am betting it was a Roundup type poison. What do I do to minimize the damage and try to detox.  D. M. Colleyville, TX
A.  Well first, tell him that you are not going to pay him unless he applies the detox procedure. If he refuses, fire him and hire someone who will do the following.
Step #1: Accept the fact that toxic chemicals are not acceptable to use on your property at any level. Step # 2: Apply activated charcoal or fine textured humate in liquid form at 10 lbs. of the carbon material per 1000 sq. ft. Zeolite should also be applied in a granular form at 80 lbs per 1000 sq. ft. Step # 3: Spray the problem area with the Garrett Juice formula plus orange oil at 2 ounces per gallon of mix. The carbon treatment will tie up the contaminants; Garrett Juice and orange oil will stimulate the microbes to feed on and breakdown the toxins. Liquid molasses is in the Garrett Juice mix but adding an additional 2 oz. of molasses to the Garrett Juice mixture per gallon will greatly help the speed of the decontamination process.

Q.  Just finished taking your Organic Certification course. Very Good!
In planting trees, why do you not recommend adding compost or adding a small berm around the perimeter of the hole other than it does not 'look good'. The #1 reason new trees die is lack of deep watering. R.W. Austin, TX
A.  Good questions. Adding a thin layer of compost to the surface of the disturbed area before the mulch is applied is fine. I usually recommend it and thought I did in the course. I also think it's a good idea to add a small amount of lava sand and green sand along with the compost. I'm against the goofy watering rings for more reasons than just being ugly. First of all, they are unnecessary if the rest of the planting techniques I recommend are used. The "dykes" are a maintenance problem and as they deteriorate over time, the soil spills in toward the trunk to add to the all too common problem of trees being too deep in the ground. If they are taken out properly at a later time, they create an unnecessary cost and waste of time.

Q.  My pecan root flare has been exposed. Did I over-commit? Should I take some of that dirt in the bags (lining my sidewalk) and fill back in? Some of those small roots are 6 to 8 inches above the ground level.  Many Thanks.  C. G. Dallas, TX
A.  No, I like what you have done. Most folks don't do enough exposing. I would even go a step further by removing the smallest of the crossing roots.


Q.  I heard you once say there's a organic product that covers up or masks urine smell of dogs. Can you tell me what that product name is again and possibly where to find it like Tractor Supply, Lowes Home Depot etc.  E. B. Millington, TN
A.  For inside use, the best product is X-O Odor Neutralizer. It does more than just mask the smell. For turf and beds, the best choice is natural zeolite. All those places should have both products.

Q.  Is there an organic way to eliminate stink bugs?  W. O. Citra, FL
A.  Try Garrett Juice with 2 oz. of orange oil added or one of the products that contains spinosad.

Q.  We have a huge shumardi red oak (approx. 30 yrs. old) in the front of our house that needs to be pruned in July (after danger of oak wilt disease passes) because the lower limbs are beginning to block the sidewalk and out into the street and some of the limbs are too close to the house roof and the grass beneath the tree is thinning out more than we would like. You have said in the past that trees only put out what they want and need and that a tree should only be raised when absolutely necessary. You have also mentioned that these oaks have a habit of breaking when limbs are removed. I don’t want to compromise the tree’s integrity.  J.J. Dallas, TX
A.  Prune the lowest limbs off slowly, one at a time until you have solved any problems the foliage is causing with vision or head banging.  Removing some of the lower limbs will not cause a long-term problem. The ice storm damage comes about when "gutting" and over-pruning is done.

Q.  My husband and I are interested in learning about the Natural Organic Certification. Do we have to each sign up to get the certification? We do plan to listen and study together. Is there a deadline for this course?  I. P. Dallas, TX
A.  You can take the course together; in fact I think that would be cool. There would only be one certification awarded but it could recognize the family.

Q.  Is there anything organic to repel and keep gnats and buffalo gnats away?  E. B. Millington, TN
A.  Yes, Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis ‘Israelensis’) works beautifully.

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