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Report From PIA  – November 8

As I cleared out the frosted Zinnia and Ageratum in the cutting garden, I noticed that that the sorrel (Rumex acetosa) was creeping into these beds. Sorrel grows best in acidic conditions, so the presence of this weed is a sign that your soil might need lime.

Many of my GardenLine listeners, and consultation clients, think that the presence of moss means that you need to lime, but this isn’t true. Moss will grow on alkaline soil, so it’s less an indication of acid soil as it is of compact soil, moisture, or shade. A lawn will flourish best when the soil is near neutral, so a test for pH is always prudent to determine if lime is needed. But the growth of moss alone doesn’t mean your soil is acidic.

Sorrel, on the other hand, is more discerning. This weed thrives when the pH is below 6.0. So when I see sorrel growing in my cutting garden, I know what to do: raise the pH with lime.

What are the indicator weeds in my life, I think, as I pull my frost-killed annuals out of the ground? If I’m waking up at 2 AM, with my mind buzzing about various responsibilities, perhaps this shows that I’m a bit overcommitted.

Or maybe those times when I’m quick to respond sharply have more to do with history, insecurity, or impatience than they do with what is happening in the moment. My reactions might be an indicator that I have unfinished business.

In the garden and elsewhere, it’s helpful to know if those things that aren’t desirable point out underlying conditions that might be improved.

Sorrel flourishes where the soil is acidic.

Sorrel flourishes where the soil is acidic.

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