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Dallas Morning News - November 17, 2016

Q.  Any easy way to get rid of a new thing I found in my yard that I didn't even know existed until I looked it up) - STINKHORN MUSHROOMS! They smell sooooooo bad!!!!!  J. B. Arlington, TX

A.  Well, other than the smell they don't hurt anything and aren't dangerous. Like most mushrooms, they are growing on dead and decaying organic matter in the soil. The fruiting bodies can be killed with any of the organic disease control sprays - baking soda, potassium bicarbonate, cornmeal tea, hydrogen peroxide, etc. Or, they can just be knocked down.

Q.  I planted a hosta this summer. It came up and was doing well, but something ate every leaf to the mid-veins. It happened in a week’s time. After noticing some nibbling, I sprayed with garlic pepper tea. Something ate it anyway. Do you know of a certain pest that thrives on hosta? Nothing else in my gardens seems to have been eaten.  J. F. Santo, TX
A.  Slugs and snails love hostas. Using the commercial product Sluggo is effective as well as any product that contains spinosad. Garlic-pepper would be helpful if sprayed weekly as a preventative before the damage starts. Obviously, that would be too much trouble. My best advice is too select other plants that won't be so problematic.
Q.  The area is on the North east side of my house under two massive oak trees. Full shade. I love hostas, so I'll try Sluggo. What else do you suggest to plant in full shade that may be unpalatable to the ole slugs??
A.  Some of the plants I would consider include liriope and giant liriope, cast iron plant, inland seaoats, dwarf aucuba and Lenten rose.

Q.  What is the most economical way to heat my dairy-quality alfalfa fields?  A. B. Colorado
A.  The organic program will give you about 1 hardiness zone of protection. Other than that I don't know what you can do.

Q.  I noticed that my bluebonnets are sprouting and some are about 1 1/2" tall. Is this a good thing or a bad thing for next years crop?  R. M. Decatur, TX
A.  No problem. They germinate in the fall and stay in the rosette form through the winter before starting to grow again in the early spring. They are bigger than normal because of the warm weather lasting so long. Some plants may be damaged if abrupt harsh weather hits hard, but most of the plants will be fine.

Q.  Do you use winter cover crops on front lawns containing St. Augustine? A. S. Denton, TX
A.  I don't like to over-seed. I just let my turf go dormant. It's a personal call and either way is ok. If you do over-seed, use perennial rye. The ideal planting time would normally have been September, but with this mild weather cool season grasses can still be planted. It’s also still OK to plant more cool-season veggies.

Q.  I had planned to do my landscape in the front yard with rocks of all sizes but then I learned how expensive that is so I'm looking for ideas for my front lawn. I had St Augustine but grubs took care of that. I’ve got a little shade but the evening sun overwhelms the yard. Do you know where I can get some ideas for landscaping? I'd love to hire a pro landscaper, but my budget doesn't allow. I’ve looked online at some sites but they seem to only suggest ideas for houses and neighborhoods that are far more expensive than mine. I live in the Casa View area in Dallas (75228). Thank you!  K. A. Dallas, TX
A.  My book Landscape Design –Texas Style might be a good aid for you. It’s out of print but is usually available in Half Priced Books. Rohde's Nursery and Nature Store in Garland can also help you with design, install, plants, healthy growing and more.

Q.  When I opened a dried molasses bag, I found hundreds of worms! What are they? If I should get rid of the whole bag, how should I dispose of it? Thank you. I just joined and this is my first question... K. A. Dallas, TX
A.  The worms won't hurt anything. They just add a little protein.

Q.  What is this plant (not the nutsedge/nutgrass)? It is growing on the ground that I tilled about a month ago in preparation for my Spring 2017 garden. Is this a good ground cover?  D. G. Garland, TX
A.  Your plant looks like creeping Charlie or something similar. Some people like it and some don't. It can be controlled with the Agralawn Crabgrass Killer if unwanted. Here's the information about it from our web site.


Q.  Heard you talking about coyotes and bird feeders on yours and Bob's show. As a fan of Mike McGrath as well I've been following his advice since he shares a hatred of bushy tailed tree rats (squirrels). He recommends only feeding the birds in the winter and only with suet. Helps them survive and attracts the insect eaters and they'll make their homes near your garden. So far I've only done it this last year but found a lot of good birds in the winter and much less the rest of the year. Seems like it would help not attract rats as well since no mess under the feeders.  R. A. Dallas, TX
A.  Thanks for the good idea about reducing the seed on the ground under the feeder. However, I ran this idea by some pest control people and they say that unfortunately the suet might attract even more mice and rats. They really love the fat that holds the seed together and will find a way to climb down to it. 

Q. Is it too late to plant garlic in my vegetable garden? Q.G. Dallas
A. Not at all. I have experimented with planting times for garlic and although October is ideal, planting the cloves as late as January has worked very well for me.

Q. When should we cut the asparagus tops down for the winter? The ferny tops are still nice and green. P.N. Plano
A. Best timing now is to wait for the first frost and the complete browning of the tops. Use the foliage as mulch or toss into the compost pile. Add a half inch or so of compost before mulching and the spears will return in the spring.

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