GYPSY GARDENER

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I’ve been reading a great gardening book

“Grass Roots Gardening”

By Donna Schaper

It’s a quick read

Packed with thought provoking words of wisdom

She is described as:

“Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church

Mother of three children

Author of 28 books

And happiest when she is in her garden.”

She has introduced me to the idea of being

A “Gypsy Gardener”

You see she has found herself gardening

All over the country.

From Arizona to New England

To Florida to Minnesota.

She has covered the country with her gardens.

This is a great read.

I found my copy on the close out table.

Find it and buy it.

I finished her book this week while vacationing

In Colorado

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And as it happens

I got to garden there.

I’ve learned a lot in these few short days

Of high desert gardening.

One – don’t get gardening advice from the Big Box Stores.

Me:  “What is the USDA zone for this area?”

Big Box Employee:  “Western”

Me:  “No it’s a number.”

BBE:  ” Oh 7.”

Me:  “I don’t thinks so Oklahoma is a 7.”

BBE:  “We have a lot of varying weather here”

Seriously!

Time to move on.

So I just started digging.

Here’s the problem

Mulch

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Inches and inches of cedar mulch.

Now, I usually try to not get too opinionated in our weekly visits

But, I’m about to go off the deep end on the subject of cedar mulch

So if you are a big fan of the stuff

I’d suggest you just stop reading now

And tune back in next week

When I’ve put my high horse

Back in the barn.

So let’s talk mulch.

I have long held the theory that cedar mulch is part of

A “great cosmic commercial gardening conspiracy.”

Think about it.

Convincing homeowners all over this country

That each year they should buy bags and bags and bags

Of commercially produced mulch

Now forget that they never tell you that

As the mulch decomposes it will zap every bit of nitrogen from your precious soil.

And all kinds of ants and other not so great insects love this stuff.

My theory has always been

That if I – a living thing – don’t want to live under it

Why would any living thing.

Like a prized perennial.

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The thing is this new garden that I was digging in this week

Is covered with no less than 4 – 5 inches of cedar mulch.

I’m told a heavy layer has been added each spring for years.

“Keeps the weeds out and the moisture in.”

They say.

Except that as I began to work I discovered that the mulch is so heavy

That the rain and irrigation water only go as deep as THE MULCH.

The soil is as dry as can be.

And there were weeds

Mostly grass and not overwhelming,

But weeds.

And forget worms.

In three days of digging I only found 5 worms.

Not good.

Though I did meet a fox

Up close

And Peg met a deer.

So I set about removing years of bad gardening decisions.

Mulch is gone

Mushroom compost added

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Probably not enough

But it’s a start.

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I bought a few perennials that I can’t grow at home

Delphinium, Iceland Poppies and Lupine.

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And planted Arugula and Mixed Salad Greens

Which will probably  be eaten by the deer

Before I have a chance to return and make a yummy salad.

And with much of the mulch now history

Perhaps seeds from the existing perennials

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Or those I bring from my first love

My home garden

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Will have a chance of filling in the blank spaces

And making this mountain garden

Look more like an actual garden

And less like a Mad Men ad for mulch.

So my advice for this week is

Buy the book

Forget the cedar mulch.

Pretty simple.

It will be safe for all to return next week.

Till then

Happy digging.

Gail

P.S.  Next week if I remember we’ll talk about what I do in place of mulch.

Wouldn’t want to leave you hanging.

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Filed under Delphinium, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, Lettuce, Peonies, Perennials, Poppy, Uncategorized

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