Howard Garrett, known as “the Dirt Doctor” (born 1947) is a radio talk show host and a leader of the Organic movement. He is a health activist, arborist, newspaper columnist and organic activist living in Dallas, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Park Administration and Landscape Architecture from Texas Tech University in 1969. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Garrett worked at Club Corporation of America, where he was a laborer and assistant golf course superintendent.
Garrett promotes natural organic programs and products. He opposes the use of toxic chemicals in lawn products and pest control, as well as criticizing some organic products that he believes do not work. He thinks that homeowners, nurseries and landscape companies underestimate the dangers of non-organic solutions, and consults with commercial properties wanting to convert to organic techniques.
He has written about the plant-derived insecticide Pyrethrum, which is made from the painted daisy (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium or Chrysanthemum coccineum that contain pyrethrin organic compounds which are potent natural insecticides.) One of the common extra ingredients is PBO, which is a synthetic synergist that gives the basic insecticide more killing power. Garrett agrees with the viewpoint of the Journal of Pesticide Reform, which says that in laboratory tests, insecticides made from pyrethrum have: caused tumors in animals; increased the risk of leukemia; disrupted the normal function of sex steroids; and triggered allergic reactions including heart attack and asthma.
Texas A&M plant expert Dr. Steven W. George, an associate professor and horticulturist in A&M’s Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Dallas, and Dallas radio garden show host Neil Sperry have been tough critics of Garrett’s organic approach.
Garrett has been the topic in numerous magazines and articles.
Garrett runs a website giving information about his approach, and sends out a weekly newsletter to an audience of over 85,000.
Books in order of publication:
- Texas Organic Gardening Book 1995
- The Dirt Doctor’s Guide to Organic Gardening 1995
- Plants of the Metroplex (Revised) April 1998
- Howard Garrett’s Texas Organic Gardening June 1998
- Organic Vegetable & Edible Landscaping October 1998
- Texas Bug Book March 1999
- Texas Herb Book January 2001
- Texas Tree Book October 2002
- Organic Manual” January, 2002
- Organic Manual (new and revised) March 2008
- Plants for Houston and the Gulf Coast March 2008
- “Organic Management for the Professional” 2012
- “Organic Lawn Care” June 2014
- “Texas Gardening the Natural Way: The Complete Handbook” Revised February 2016