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Rain Questions on Gardening

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Rain Questions


Good grief! Enough already! Obviously questions about the massive rain and saturated soil are dominating the questions coming in. The most important point is that those of you who have been using organic techniques and products will not have as many problems because the biologically healthy soil will have much more tolerance of the anaerobic conditions than the dead soil maintained by those people still using high-nitrogen fertilizers and toxic pesticides. Here are some of the questions with my answers:

Q: Is it mold I'm seeing on a grassless area on our property? All this rain and the ground can't dry out! On a bare area there is green and black stuff on the mud. Is it mold or dirt? How should I treat to rid my ground of this stuff? A.S., Keller
A: It could be mold but is probably algae. It can easily be killed with the hydrogen peroxide spray. Dilute the 3% grocery store product with water in a 50-50 mix and spray the problem areas.

Q. Hi! Love the Dirt Dr. Program! My house is four years old and along the whole east side of my house water gathers against my foundation when it rains. I'm single and on a tight budget. I have asked two different landscaping companies to come, but they said it wasn't a big enough job. I have tried to build up the dirt in that area myself, but I think I made it worse. Any help would be appreciated! R.G., Dallas
A: The only thing that will solve this for sure is to dig a trench from the water holding areas to a lower point on the site where the water can run out. You don't have to put a pipe in the trench. Just fill the trench all the way to the surface with some kind of crushed rock. That way it serves as an inlet all along the trench.

Q: Yesterday my young peach tree, four years old, had a lot of peaches, looking good. Today the leaves are drooping, and all of the peaches are shriveling up. We have had about 10 inches of rain so far. What causing this? G.G., Joshua
A: If you aren’t already, begin the organic fruit and pecan tree program. Stimulating the life in the soil is the only workable solution to the problems being created by the rain and super-saturated soils.

Q: Something that we cannot see has eaten the leaves off all of our roses this wet spring. Any ideas how to solve this problem? M.H., Quitman
A: Look for slugs, snails and pillbugs. They have been prolific with all the recent rain. Sluggo and Sluggo Plus might help solve the problem.

Q: Below is a picture of the new growth on my purple coneflower plant. Something is killing the new growth on my coneflowers, coreopsis and other plants. They turn limp and fall over and turn brown. There are some brownish red marks on the stem. I don't want it to wipe out my garden! What should I apply? Also something is eating my Pentas. I want to attract butterflies and am afraid to apply anything that will harm them, but do want to save my plants if possible. C.T., Dallas


A: I'm sure it's a pathogen related to all the rain and cool temperatures. To prevent further damage and spread, apply whole ground cornmeal at 2 lbs. per 100 sq ft and spray the subject plants with Serenade, potassium bicarbonate at a rounded tablespoon per gallon of water or a 1% mixture of hydrogen peroxide.

As a final comment – please turn the sprinklers off. You’re wasting water and money as well as pouring gasoline on the fire! The enormous rain is doing enough damage without your help. I realize that most of you organic gardeners leave your systems on manual and don’t make this serious mistake, but help me spread the word to those unenlightened ones.

Read more Q & A in my weekly Dallas Morning News Column or send your questions to

To discuss this newsletter or any other topic, tune in Sunday 8am -11am central time to the Dirt Doctor Radio Show. The call-in phone number is 1-866-444-3478. Listen on the internet or click here to find a station in your area.

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Naturally yours,
Howard Garrett

P.S. Please donate to The Organic Research Center. TORC’s mission is to stop the broad scale use of toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers and to develop natural organic programs that work better in every way.

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