These seedlings have outgrown their pots and need transplanting right away. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Sometimes life gets in the way of gardening

The cover crop of winter rye still waves at me from the garden

By Mary Lowther

Sometimes life gets in the way of gardening and I don’t have the energy or inclination to keep on top of things. Fortunately I have built-in safety protocols that keep my soil in pretty good shape until I get back into the swing of things.

My compost heap didn’t turn out well this spring because I obviously didn’t add enough nitrogenous materials to the mix. The compost is full of straw-like unbroken plant debris that is a pain to sift out and toss into a new pile. Therefore I’m not getting as much compost for the garden this year. As I make the new pile, I’m adding extra alfalfa seed meal and fresh grass clippings and weeds to boost the nitrogen content. Manure and seaweed would help too.

The cover crop of winter rye still waves at me from the garden, reminding me that I should have dug it under a few weeks ago so that it would have rotted before my seedlings go in, which should have been a few days ago. It’s not all bad though because this rye cover crop still holds nutrients in the soil, despite the rain.

I should have started making compost tea already, but at least I have liquid fish fertilizer to add to water that stimulates leaf growth. This potting soil I make is so robust that, along with the fish fertilizer, my seedlings are growing like gangbusters, desperate to be re-potted (again!), or transplanted into the garden.

What to do? I’m going to follow my own advice that I tell my kids: make a To Do list and prioritize the chores by writing a ‘1’ beside the most time-sensitive chore, ‘2’ beside the next pressing one, and so on. As you do each chore, scratch it off and go to the next one. What you don’t get done today, make a fresh list tonight and tackle it again tomorrow.

Scratching off each chore feels hugely satisfying because the work gets done in increments and isn’t nearly as overwhelming.

Please contact with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.


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