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Dallas Morning News - November 24, 2016

Q.  Can you tell me what type of mushroom this is and why it must might be growing on our oak tree?  S. G. Dallas, TX

A.  That 's the fruiting body of the fungus that is active inside your tree. In other words there is rot present. Even though there is some flare showing, I recommend exposing it more dramatically and then applying the rest of the Sick Tree Treatment. Here it is.
The shorthand version of the procedure is to aerate the root zone, broadcast compost, rock minerals and sugars while the holes are open; and spray the tree and root zone with the Garrett Juice mixture.

Q.  I am writing a persuasive speech (for speech class) on creating more awareness or new policy for leaf debris, grass clippings, etc. clogging our storm sewer system and negatively affecting our environment. I was hoping you could help me with information that I can use to be effective. I see this problem every day, from commercial to residential landscaping companies. I see my neighbor do this as well. One of the requirements for the speech is a call to action. If you have time, would you help me to succeed in this cause? This problem drives me crazy and I want to do something, anything about this.  J. M. Arlington, TX
A.  Educational programs about the damage being caused by the debris going into the storm sewers and hurting the environment is important, but there is more to the story. Grass clippings as well as shrub and tree trimmings are valuable resources and should be used rather than thrown away. The thing to do is encourage city officials and council people to adopt city regulations that prevent grass clippings and tree trimmings from going to the city landfills. If homeowners and commercial property owners have to keep and use these organic resources, their landscapes and gardens will be more successful and they will save much on water bills. People without the financial wherewithal to afford the new procedures should be helped. On the other hand, homeowners and contractors that blow the material into streets and storm sewers should be fined heavily.

Q.  We have been gone from our home for a couple months and just returned finding a large anthill in the shrub bed by our front door. It is about 10 inches high and 18 inches in diameter.  Any thing you can suggest to kill them and keep them from coming back? Thanks in advance for any help you can give us in this matter.  G. S. Dallas, TX
A.  Broadcasting dry molasses over the entire site will usually run all the ants off the property. Problem mounds can be killed with what we call Mound Drench. The original formula was equal amounts of compost tea, liquid molasses and orange oil, then using 4 oz. of this concentrate per gallon of water to drench mounds. Another way to go is to add 2 oz. of orange oil per gallon of ready-to-use Garrett Juice.

Q.  Does the corn meal have to be organic to work on foot fungus?  C. S. Dallas, TX
A.  No, but organic would work even better. Masa will also work. The recommendation is to simply mix either of the products in warm water and soak the feet.

Q.  I have a 30-40 ft. cedar elm. Approximately half way up the trunk is a bulge with mistletoe sprouting on the bark. Approx. 6 ft. above that is a hole approx. 4 inch diameter that squirrels maybe using. Should I be concerned and if so, what would be my options. I am organic (thanks to you) for approx. 5 more fire ants and my mistletoe is 95% gone. I don't want to lose this beautiful tree. B.B. Wylie, TX
A.  Please send a photo but here's what I would suggest without seeing the tree. A cavity is usually no great cause for alarm because trees have the ability to form barriers in damaged areas so that the rot is contained and doesn't move farther into the tree. It’s best not to fill the hole with any foreign material. It would be better if not there and was probably caused by an incorrect "flush cut." The mistletoe mass is a sign that the tree is still in some stress. It sounds like the tree is moving the right direction but the Sick Tree Treatment applied, including a dramatic exposure of the root flare will give you the assurance of bringing the tree into its best possible condition.

Q.  I planted two maples 3 - 4 years ago and another 2 - 3 years ago all in back yard. One is a silver maple, two are autumn blaze maple and the last are red maples. I've got to dig them up to reset them because they are too low. If I dig a wide ugly hole and I cut off the taproot by accident, it won't kill the tress will it? Doing it to expose the flare.  E. B. Millington, TN
A.  Don’t worry about the tap root. They all die after a while anyway. The roots that are important to be careful with are the ones growing in the top foot of soil. This is the best time of the year to do the work and the trees should respond fine.

Q.  Now that it is fall, should I prepare to spray dormant oil to control over-wintering insects? P.L. Plano
A.  Even though dormant oil and the more refined and preferred horticultural oil are considered “organic”, I don’t recommend them for general use because they kill beneficial insects as well as the pests. They can be sprayed after we have had hard frost but only if specific insects problems have been present in the past. Restrict the spray to problem plants rather than applying to the entire site.

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