Q & A: Miscellaneous

Got a gardening question? Ask Susan! What follows are reader questions. Each time a new one comes in, I’ll add it to the top. To ask a question, drop me a note at Susan@susansinthegarden.com.

Q: I don’t understand what half strength dilution means referring to the
fish fertilizer.  Could you tell me how much to use per gallon of
water? OLR, Spokane

A: When I fertilize young seedlings with fish fertilizer, I like to use it half-strength to avoid burning or overfeeding them. This means using half as much fish fertilizer from what is recommended on the label. So, for example, they recommend 2 tbsp. of fish fertilizer to a gallon of water for vegetables, bedding plants, bulbs and annuals. That means I will use 1 tbsp. of fertilizer to a gallon of water.

Q: Can you tell me where we can purchase a copy of your book? 

A: Thank you for asking! There are several places where you should be able to locate Northwest Gardener’s Handbook: 1) at the Spokane County Master Gardener’s plant clinic, located at 222 N. Havana St. (just south of the Indians Ballpark). They are open 9-3 Mon-Thurs, 9-1 Fri and 9-12 Sat. Their phone number is (509) 477-2181; 2) at Auntie’s Bookstore downtown; 3) at Barnes & Noble (either Northtown or east of the Spokane Valley Mall) and 4) On Amazon.com.

Q: One problem we have with the garden is weeds. Frustrating the amount of weeds we have. Can you suggest a product that will decrease the amount of weeds. Is Preen a good one or is there something more effective. JK, Spokane

A: I completely understand your frustration with all of the weeds! If only our gardens grew as readily as they do. As much as I despise weeds, I don’t like using any chemicals in my garden because I don’t want to handle them and I worry about the impact they will have on the rest of the ecosystem within my garden. You might consider a few other options:

1. If the weeds appear in your pathways, you might try using a landscape mulch (also known as weed-block) covered by a few inches of bark. We did that in our vegetable garden and rarely get any weeds growing there.

2. Try mulching around your plants with things like grass clippings, compost, shredded leaves, or weed-free straw. The mulch will inhibit weed growth while helping the soil to retain moisture.

3. When weeding, try not to rake through the top few inches of soil as that will bring other weed seeds to the surface.

I did just notice that there’s now an organic version of Preen, but I don’t know how effective it is. Here’s a link to some information on it: http://www.preen.com/products/preen-vegetable-garden-weed-preventer. I was unable to find out what the active ingredient is.