To Pee or Not to Pee

I am remembering now why the coming of warmer, longer, greener days is so disruptive to what has passed for winter-normal especially-morning cycles of attention and energy.

With the first days in the 70s, one realizes that they are swimming once more against the very currents of planetary shifts and the inexorable urge of things to grow. A mere mortal has little choice but to push the mower, swing the scythe, whirr the string trimmer and hoe the weeds one step ahead of the Green Tsunami. It will overwhelm one who stands slack-jawed against its unrelenting tide.

Yesterday, against all odds, the string trimmer started on the first try, and the grass out the back door that benefits from the dog’s nitrogenous offerings, a foot tall already, is now strewn across the pavers.

Today’s attention turns back to the Garden of Summer Yet to Come, and I think about what it will take to end up with anything to show for all the hard work that lies ahead. What will my tender plants want to eat this year that they didn’t get last year–a not so great tomato year, or beans, or anything but chard.

Yesterday at a local greenhouse, I was encouraged to give a look at MaxiCrop–a seaweed extract that was said to make remarkable impact on the growth of young tomatoes as a foliar feed (sprinkle in a watering can onto the leaves vs root feeding.) The stuff adds another $20 to the ledger of our “free” vegetables.

On the other hand, I had a conversation Sunday with an expert on the matter of feeding plants. She extolled the benefits of urine (at 20:1) as well as a “tea” of manure (I have a nice pile of donkey droppings under black plastic) and grass clippings.

So as Barbara says, it’s N-PEE-oK fertilizer for my future garden. I think I’ll give it a try, along with the pee-bale straw target to hold and keep all that nice nitrogen.

I’ll keep more of it up above the septic field this year. I know Ann is going to be thrilled when I tell her; and I’m pretty sure she’s not going to be any help.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Unfortunately, in the past year or so, we have year-round neighbors whose house we can see from the walkway in front of the house. That spot is no longer guy-space. And the wife in said neighbor house has resumed jogging at odd, unpredictable times. So discretion is advised when watering the garden.

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