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
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”
Time to move on.
So I just started digging.
Here’s the problem
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.
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.”
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,
And forget worms.
In three days of digging I only found 5 worms.
Though I did meet a fox
And Peg met a deer.
So I set about removing years of bad gardening decisions.
Mulch is gone
Mushroom compost added
Probably not enough
But it’s a start.
I bought a few perennials that I can’t grow at home
Delphinium, Iceland Poppies and Lupine.
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
Or those I bring from my first love
My home garden
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.
It will be safe for all to return next week.
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.