Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Mulching Saga

Friday morning, we headed into town to acquire some black gold.  For the Beverly Hillbillies, that’s oil.  For a weed-laden maiden such as myself, it’s mulch.

Someone could write a mulch encyclopedia with all the options out there.  I prefer shredded hardwood bark.  It isn’t the only acceptable option, but it’s my favorite.  It’s widely available, environmentally friendly, reasonably priced, beautiful and it smells good (to me). 

I would not recommend wood chips or shredded pallets or any form of chopped up ‘wood’.  There is a big difference between wood and bark.  In nature, bark acts as armor for the tree’s wooden center.  It is God’s design for the protection of the tree.  Bark, with its rough texture and unappealing substances, deters the horde of bugs that want to get at the woody deliciousness inside.   How do you think those critters feel when you chop up the woody deliciousness and spread it all over your yard?  Mmmmmmm.  The same way I feel at Dairy Queen.  To add insult to injury, the chips biodegrade too rapidly, pulling nitrogen from your soil and money from your wallet.  The only thing worse than wood chips in your yard is painted wood chips.  The chips will biodegrade.  The paint will not. 

This year’s previous weeding efforts unraveled themselves when I failed to cover the freshly-liberated soil with mulch.  Without this organic forcefield, I was no more than a hamster on a wheel; running myself to exhaustion and getting nowhere in particular.  I plucked and pulled, and one week later, the garden looked as if I'd abandoned it years ago.  The weeds thanked me kindly for exposing more delicious dirt and returned to their dominion-making efforts. 

But now I was armed and ready for battle.  As the man of the house lowered the tailgate to begin the Mulch Homecoming Festivities, he asked me where the wheelbarrow was.  Immediately, I knew.  Immediately, unfortunately, was a half hour too late.  15 miles north of our home, sitting upside down on a pile of peat moss, lay the loaned-out necessity.  Distributing a yard-and-a-half of mulch without a wheelbarrow is not practical.  It’s like trying to slurp a giant milkshake through a coffee stirrer.  The effort is going to result in a nasty headache.  Blast my swiss-cheese memory.  And thank goodness for well-stocked neighbors. 

Now, armed with my truckload of mulch and a neighborly wheelbarrow, I set to weeding once more.  Thirty-six hours later, the redemption of my garden was complete.  (For legal accuracy, ‘complete’ does not include the vegetable garden.) 

Presently, I’m sitting out on my porch, penning this entry and sniffing the sweet smells of success.  In this case, success smells like mulch and freshly brewed coffee.   I believe I enjoy basking in the glow of my weedless garden as much as I would enjoy basking on a beach in Brazil.  There’s something divine about creating your own paradise.  

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