Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wood mulch vs. bark mulch

This week Menards has wood mulch on sale (half off after mail-in rebate, limit 80 bags per household - I purchased 30). I have used this before. Even though it looks weird compared to bark mulch, it does a good job of smothering grass and weeds, plus does not break down as fast as bark. The bag says "100% recycled", so I am guessing it is made from pallets. Not exactly wonderful stuff, but better than shredded tires.

Several of my flower beds are so densely planted that there is no room for mulch, which is the ideal as far as I am concerned. Elsewhere, I need help, at least until I get the right plants and the beds fill in. That is where the wood mulch comes in. By buying it now, it will be on hand when I need it, plus bags are easier to handle than bulk. (I'm getting old.)

In a separate category of mulch, I hope to get a local tree service company to part with some of their wood chips for use in the incipient orchard. According to The Holistic Orchard (by Michael Phillips), ramial wood chips are best for feeding the fungi duff and keeping trees healthy. Even though I purchased a shredder/chipper, I don't have many twiggy branches to process. Again, I need help.

In the past, I have used grass clippings for mulch, but this has been problematic. For one thing, sometimes I treat my lawn with weed killer (I know, bad, bad, bad), and don't want to use those clippings, especially in the vegetable garden. In dry years, when I need the mulch the most, there are few clippings to be had. Also, leaving the clippings on the lawn helps feed it (I have a mulching lawn mower), limiting the need for weed 'n' feed.

Do you mulch, and if so, what do you use and where do you get it?

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Good things about February

I've said it before and I'll say it again - February is the longest month of the year, at least around these parts. Seeds and plants are ordered but it is too early to start transplants inside. The only "gardening" fun I have is eating all the goodies I put by last year.

We have had snow, which some people think is a bad thing, but it is actually good for the garden. Snow shoveling is also handy for keeping the gardening muscles in shape. That said, I am still grateful for the help of neighbors when the snow is heavy and/or too thick.

Garden Rant has been hosting a series of posts extolling or berating the concept of "winter interest" in the garden. I don't plant for winter interest, but I think if you have snow, you can't help but find the yard interesting to view. Better than the usual brown and gray.

Finn suffers from cabin fever, punctuating my day with requests to go out, then two minutes later, come back in. Despite having a litter box in the laundry room, he still prefers the outdoors as his potty. And sometimes he even plays in the snow a bit.

Best of all is the recovery of the Meyer lemon tree, as demonstrated by its current vigor and recent blossoming. If you recall, the poor plant was looking pretty peaked a year or so ago when I took some drastic action. It produced no fruit at all last year, but things look more promising for 2015.

The whole room is filled with the sweet scent of the blossoms. Not every flower will produce a lemon, as the plant is smart enough to "self prune" by dropping the fruit it can't support to ripening. Harvest won't occur until December.

That's a long time to wait, but well worth it.