Time to Grow More and Work Less

Getting a Handle on Garden Chores

PruningThis is such a simple tip, I don’t know why I didn’t hear about it before. I came across it reading one of my favorite books, by one of my favorite authors, Sydney Eddison’s Gardening for a Lifetime. Or should I say I “gleaned” it?

We all have to do lists, although some are just in our heads. Wherever they’re kept, they keep getting longer and more overwhelming. To get a handle on all you have to do, write down as much as you can remember. Then next to each item, write down how long you think it will take you to get it done. Now before you feel daunted, take a look at the nagging little tasks that would only take 15 – 20 minutes to complete.

 Chore Time Done
Side vegetables with compost 30 -40 minutes  X
Check cabbage plants for egg sacks 15 minutes  X
Mulch flower beds 60 minutes  
Collect seeds from poppy pods 10 minutes  X
Divide crowded daylilies 1-2 hours  
Build compost bin 4-6 hours  

Now whenever you have only a few minutes to garden, do one of those tasks instead of just pulling a weed here or a deadhead there. Get an entire task done and you can scratch it off your to do list. Doesn’t that feel good? As your list gets smaller, those big task might still look out of reach.

Chop Them Up

Most big jobs, like building a compost container, can be broken down into smaller tasks:

 Chore Time Done
List materials needed 15 minutes  X
Shop for materials 45 minutes  
Measure and mark boards 30 minutes  
Cut boards 30 – 40 minutes  
Drill holes 20 – 30 minutes  
Assemble 60 minutes  

Yes, it takes a few minutes of pre-thought, but it sure helps get organize your thoughts into a plan of attack.

Fall Divisions

DividingThey always say fall is for planting, but if you live in a cold climate, don’t wait too long. You want your plants to settle in and become established for at least 4 – 6 weeks, before the ground freezes.

I like to get as much cleanup done in the fall as I can, because spring can go by in a wink. Even so, I’m hesitant to do a lot of late dividing of perennials. You can never be sure when a frost is coming and loosening the soil in fall seems to be an invitation to every vole in the neighborhood.

What the Heck

But I’ve always been one to push my luck. If you’re like me, here are a few perennials that seem to handle the disruption late in the season. Focus on these first. Continue Reading

Winterizing Container Plants

Container-WInterIt’s getting close to the time when vacationing houseplants need to be moved back indoors. That includes tender perennial plants, like rosemary and dwarf fruit trees. It’s best to get them back indoors while the windows are still open, so they can acclimate gradually, long before the drying heat comes on.

But what do you do about those perennials you planted in containers. It seemed like a good idea when you say it in a magazine, but will they survive out there in a pot?

5 Things to Consider, Before You Leave Your Containers Out in the Cold.

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Composting Citrus – Yes, Maybe, Never?

Photo: canoncan / Stock.xchng http://www.freeimages.com/photo/451066

Photo: canoncan / Stock.xchng

I had always tossed my orange and lemon peels into the compost bucket with the rest of my peelings. I never thought twice about it until someone said “Of course, you can’t compost citrus.” Of course? Why not?

Why You Shouldn’t Compost Citrus

I never really got a satisfactory answer to that question. Some said the oils would kill off the worms and beneficial organisms needed for decomposition. After all, citrus oils are often included in pesticides and bug sprays.

Others said it was because the peels themselves decompose so slowly, though I don’t know why that should be a deterrent. And some worried that they would acidify the compost.

Never Mind
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A Little Compost is Good. Is a Lot Better?

CompostHow often have you been advised to add more organic matter to your garden beds? We all know compost is a magic elixir, but can you over do it? Most of us can barely make enough to keep up with our needs, so maybe this question is moot, but I was curious, none the less.

I’ve read that you shouldn’t start seeds in pure compost. I’ve never gotten a definitive answer as to why, but most experts are in agreement with a general “No”. However I know a couple of gardeners who swear by it and the tomato plants that have volunteered in my compost heap look healthier than the ones that have been putting on a valiant show in my garden.

But back to my original question, can there be too much compost? Continue Reading