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Dallas Morning News -November 10, 2016

December Organic Maintenance

Q.  We live on an acre with open fields on all sides. We have been organic since we moved here 16 years ago. We have been invaded by a tiny bug I cannot get rid of. There are millions of them. They are about one eighth to one fourth long. They are white, almost clear. They fly very quick so it's hard to get a good look at it. A lot of the foliage turns colors like a bacterial disease? I have sprayed mound drench, insecticidal oil, cedar oil, garlic with orange oil - all with no improvement. Any suggestions. Thank you.  P. M. Benbrook, TX
A.  If you can catch any, send them to the A&M extension office for positive identification. I'm not sure what they are. The various organic tools you have used are what I would have recommended you try. Once we have a positive ID maybe I can come up with another idea. In the short term you might try one of the products that contains spinosad.

Q.  Most books recommend keeping milk products out of compost piles or worm bins. But what about clearish-appearing whey from homemade yogurt? Can I compost that? T.K. Dallas, TX
A.  Those books are giving out bad advice. Any milk, whey, yogurt or cheese products make effective and appropriate ingredients for the compost pile. I'd let them break down some first in metal containers along with other scraps from the kitchen and dinner table before placing in the open piles. That keeps the wild animals away.

Q.  I spoke with Howard on the radio roughly August of 2015.  My 100+ year-old Seven Sisters rose bush had rose rosette disease, and I was crushed.  I’m the fourth generation to have this rose bush.  It’s lived in Muenster, Gainesville, Dallas, and now Plano.  And I lost its only propagation the year before to rose rosette disease, but didn’t know what it was at the time.  I thought the small leaves and blooms were a result of the drought, and didn’t pursue treatment.  When the original bush started showing the same signs, I researched, and felt awful for inadvertently letting the other bush perish. I followed Howard's treatment plan, and it works! During a busy time I missed a treatment or two, and the disease flared back up.  But regular treatment is keeping it at bay.  V. J. Plano, TX
A.  Thanks for good the report. We’ll pass the good news on. The critics of course continue to say that there is no cure.

Q. My St. Augustine grass has what appears to be the fungus brown patch. Is it too late in the year to treat? D.O. Dallas.
A. It would probably be good to go ahead and apply the whole ground or horticultural cornmeal at 20 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. Even though the growth is over for the year, the stimulation of the beneficial trichoderma fungus now will lead to healthy turf next spring. Stop watering and fertilizing if you haven’t already.

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