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A few tips and tricks from the Q&A of our Gardening Webinars with Niki Jabbour

Published on: May 31st, 2021

The Spring Gardening Spectacular is our unofficial kickoff to gardening season here at Assante Hydrostone. 2021 marks the 9th year that Niki Jabbour has joined us to share her extensive knowledge and excitement for all things garden related. Here are a few fun things we learned at this year’s event.

What do you recommend for organic fertilizer for veggies in pots and how often should I feed them?

Work in a slow-release organic fertilizer for vegetables when you fill the containers with soil; or, as soon as you plant them, top dress with a slow-release organic fertilizer, and that’ll just provide a steady feed throughout the summer months. I would also supplement that every two to three weeks, with a liquid organic fertilizer, like Neptune’s Harvest.

Can container soil be reused from one year to the next if I add more fertilizer?

If it’s a really big container, take out the top half, and then refresh that with new soil – that way you don’t have to fill it from scratch every single year, which can be expensive. But if it’s in a relatively small pot, you know like a 12- or 14-inch pot, you’re going to have to replace it. I usually add my old potting mix to my raised beds or other parts of my garden, and I usually buy the bales of potting mix because it saves money. That’s the more inexpensive way to buy it if you need a lot of it, but you should replace it if you can.

Would a bunch of chives in front of my Hosta plants protect them from deer?

I have never had a deer eat chives because they have that strong onion flavor. That’s not to say they won’t if they’re hungry enough, but I think you’re safe to because I have chives throughout my garden, and they’ve never touched them.

How do you get rid of horsetails?

It’s a terrible, terrible weed. I mean, your options are pulling it out, which will take a couple years, constantly, never letting it propagate; or, smothering it with a tarp or cardboard and then covering that in mulch, again for a couple years. If it’s not that big of an area, you might take all of that soil and weed out and dispose of it and then bring in new soil. You could also try to solarize it. It depends where it is, really, but if you have clear plastic or black plastic, you could put it over top of the patch now, just as we’re starting to heat up for summer, leave it in place for a couple of months and cook it. That’s solarizing, and it can be an effective way to kill the roots of the plants.

What is ‘Potscaping’?

Mixing and matching combinations, putting different plants in different pots and then kind of clustering them together. It’s a great way to add interest to the little sunny corners of your deck or patio; instead of just one pot, nestle two or three together, different sizes and colors and shapes, and it just adds additional interest.

What are the best plants to repel mosquitos?

I’d love to say there’s a magic plant. I mean, yes, you can buy scented geraniums and they’re called “Mosquito Plant”, but unless you rip off leaves and rub them all over yourself and constantly rub the leaves on your deck to release those oils into the air, they’re not going to do anything, honestly. Plants like that citronella geranium, lemon balm, lemon verbena, any of those strongly lemon-scented plants with those citrus oils, they can help a little bit, but I wouldn’t say they repel mosquitoes. Thanks, Niki! There were so many great tips and tricks across the two sessions. I know I can’t wait to add some Shishito peppers and cucamelons to my raised beds. And my trellis is waiting for those beautiful, fragrant Sweet Peas!

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