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Report From PIA – February 24

Driving home after having dinner with a friend, I thought about the subject for today’s blog. “What’s here, in this day?” I asked myself. I truly believe that every hour, incident, and day contains information and inspiration that extends beyond our moment-to-moment experience.

“What’s here,” I asked again, and then it came to me.

I finished my monthly column for Prime Time Magazine today, and my subject for April is gardening in pure sand. There are two ways to deal with gardening in sandy soils: amend with compost or composted manure like crazy, or stick to plants that will thrive in a sandbox.

There are native plants that are nitrogen-fixers, for example, that have the ability to grow in nutrient poor soils. Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) and sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina) for example, grow with bacteria that can convert nitrogenous gas to ammonium. In essence, this allows them to take nitrogen from the air and use it like fertilizer. Nitrogen-fixing plants can thrive in lean, sandy soils.

Many of the popular landscaping plants need better soil, however, so those who want to grow these plants in sand need to amend constantly. Compost and composted manure should be dug deeply into the native ground before planting, and applied regularly to the surface of the soil around established plants. Vigilance is key.

In life we have the same choice. Are we willing to work with conditions as they are, or do we prefer to put effort into completely changing the situation? Both courses of action take work and a measure of compromise. Too often we try to take the easy way out, planting willy-nilly, expecting what we place in our lives to multiply even if we haven’t properly prepared for what we’re planting, or matched what we want to grow with our ability to do so.

So here’s what I’m thinking about tonight: does what I want to cultivate in my life match the conditions that presently exist? And if not, am I willing to do what it takes to create the proper environment?

American beach grass and bayberry thrive in pure sand despite low nutrients and dryness. They are two of the right plants for areas where no amendments will be used.

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