Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tuesday, 01 July 2008 - Mulch

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for mulch.

My desperation grows daily. With summer turning up the heat to near-intolerable levels and teasing my garden with rainless thunderstorms, I need mulch - lots and lots of mulch.

Yes, I am obsessed with mulch. Many years ago, when I became a serious outdoor gardener, I read about a New Mexico woman who heavily mulched her gardens. Despite the hot, dry weather, she only watered her plants once a month. Yet, her gardens thrived. I decided right then and there to mulch my gardens regularly.

Finding the right "thickness" took a few seasons. I've since learned to spread enough mulch to preserve moisture and protect roots but not smother the plants.

In the fall, I prepare my gardens for winter by applying pine mulch and tree leaves (donated by teens who rake neighborhod yards) around the base of each plant. In the summer, I apply a thick layer of pine mulch around plants and on bare spots.

The mulch works well for my gardens and me. Even during the hottest and driest months, I deep water established plants and shrubs every 10-14 days and spot water new plantings as needed. A few of my xeric plants have very deep taproots and need virtually no supplemental water. Most, however, need a periodic drink, preferring rainfall to the hose. My edible garden, also heavily mulched, still requires daily watering.

Late this afternoon, S takes me to the Slash-Mulch Program site. The Program, a local wildfire mitigation and recycling program, is a major collection site for landscape slash. Donors include homeowners and landscapers.

A towering industrial chipper turns the slash into mulch. Several times a week, the public can stop by for a supply. Although the mulch is free (with a non-perishable donation to the local food bank), you must supply the tools and energy required to shovel the material into bags, truck beds or trailers.

During today's trip, S and I collect enough mulch for Round One. Y watches from the truck cab as I hold open the trash bags and S dumps in shovelfuls of fragrant pine and fir mulch.

When we return home, I spend the rest of our daylight hours applying the 8-39 gallon bags of mulch to the garden. To my dismay, I quickly run out. Thankfully, S promises to take me back on Thursday evening for one more load.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


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