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Dallas Morning News - October 6, 2016

Q. My aunt has a pecan tree that's root is pushing up the concrete in her driveway. A guy tells her he will cut the concrete and the root to be level and then pour the concrete on top of the cut root. I'm afraid this will kill the tree. Is she okay doing that or will it more than likely kill the big 75 year old tree.  S. H. Cedar Hill, TX

A. Hard to say for sure without seeing the tree but cutting one root off of a 75 year old tree will not usually kill the tree. Removing a root, even a large one, will not do any more damage than removing a limb that size. For safety apply the Sick Tree Treatment when the work is done.

Q.  I am considering taking the organic gardening and certification course but had a question. Are the videos and other course materials only available to view online or can you download and view offline, for instance if you don't always have an Internet connection? Do you maintain access to the videos and other course materials forever once you purchase the course or is it somehow time limited?  S. M.
A.  The videos and tests are accessible only though and electronic connection - Internet, phone or tablet. There is a 26 page study booklet that you can download and print that provides detailed information for the course. You can view the course material as many times as you want to. Your account does not have an expiration date. 

We are receiving excellent reviews and extremely positive feedback regarding the course. You can sign up by clicking here.

Q.  I may be getting outside your expertise, but never ceased to be amazed with the feedback beyond just plants and shrubs. The condo smells like mothballs (think the adjoining neighbors doused their closed with it). Do you have any solutions for eliminating odors? With pets, always prefer your solutions because they tend to be friendly solutions. Anyways, I realize I am taking a shot in the dark and may not be up your alley, but felt it was work the effort to ask. P. B. Dallas
A.  The product that I would strongly recommend is called XO Odor Neutralizer . It actually removes odors instead of just covering them with a perfume smell. Mothball fumes are tough to handle but this would be worth a try. The website is that lists stores selling the product.  If you haven’t already, tell the neighbor to switch to herbal products. Once the mothball chemical is in fabrics, especially natural fabrics like wool and cotton, it’s almost impossible to clean up.

Q.  I wanted to try a cover crop mix in my square foot garden beds. I found this on Johnny seed site, what do you think? I was going to use it in my empty summer beds and within my ongoing fall plants - one plant in each 12 inch x 12" square - lettuces, broccoli, kohlrabi, turnips, mustards, kale, beets, onions, garlic, Swiss chard. that contains rye, field peas, clover and vetch. I also was looking at Austrian winter peas, cereal rye and oats. I want to see if I can take my soil to another level in nutrients and cut the cost of amendment. Any ideas on this.  A. S. Denton, TX
A.  All these cover crops and also wheat are great for helping to improve the soil but they would be competitive with the cool season crops you're getting ready to plant. You need to do one or the other.

Q. My allergies have really been bothering me lately. I noticed that goldenrod is in bloom and wondered if that was the culprit. It's a pretty plant but do we need to try to keep it from blooming? G.J. Dallas
A. Allergies are bad this year but goldenrod is not the problem. Goldenrod has heavy pollen that doesn't blow around and cause allergies. It simply is a beautiful wildflower and excellent for attracting beneficial insects including the pollinators. The bad plant and the culprit in this case is ragweed, both common ragweed and giant ragweed. Its white flowers do have some positive attributes but probably more negatives. 

Q.  My wife has been having symptoms of lupus. The doctor recommended to change the light bulbs in the house to LED bulbs due to extreme sensitivity to certain kinds of light. It seems that almost immediately we've been having what my wife calls stink bugs come in the house or attach to the screens on the windows. Are they attracted to any kind of lights or plants we may have outside, as we have roses? And is there any way to organically repel them, to not have them come back ever?  E. B. Millington, TN
A.  That's interesting. I've never run into a situation where LED lighting attracts insects of any kind including stink bugs. All my landscape lighting is LED. Stink bugs do attack various plant types from time to time. What I would recommend for the bug control is to first spray with the garlic-pepper mixture. It's an excellent repellent and doesn't hurt beneficials. Another first step possibility is to vacuum them up. I use a small hand vac for that purpose when needed and it works well. The next step. if necessary, is to spray with on of the essential oil products such as EcoSafe.

Q. If we buy the trees we need after the fall color starts to show on the plants in the nursery, can we be confident of getting that fall color from now on? We have purchased trees in the past that were supposed to have a certain color but it turned out to be different. Also, what are your favorite evergreen trees
A. No - not completely. You'll have the best chance of getting the fall color you want by purchasing trees in the fall that are showing color. However, because of soil conditions, fertilizing practices and just tree quirks, the color of the leaves can be different after being planted on your property. Not always, but sometimes. The trees that tend to bring the "advertised" color home consistently include Texas ash, ginkgo, elms and Japanese maples. Texas ash has a variety of colors but they are all on every tree. The best evergreens are Mexican white oak, cherry laurel, East Palatka holly , magnolia and of course live oak, even though it is badly over used.

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