Because it adds so many important benefits, mulching is a must in any garden. It holds in moisture, moderates soil temperature (good for when temperatures fluctuate), inhibits weeds from germinating and growing, and add nutrients to the soil.
Mulching madness started a few weeks ago and has showed no signs of slowing down. I am becoming more and more of a believer in the saying, “ask and you shall receive.” When we shared our over flowing joy of our first woodchip delivery, we never dreamed it would turn into a mountain range of woodchips. After the initial surprise delivery, we got another one just days later. Then, not long after that we got two more in one day. Ergo, I am also becoming painfully aware that I need to start telling people, “no, thank you”( instead of trying to help everyone I can).
We may have bitten off more than we can chew with the quantity of woodchips, so we have been pushing to make a dent (or at least turn a mulch mountain into a hill). This is not only because we have so many projects to put them towards, but I also want to keep our neighbors from, well, wishing we weren’t their neighbors. I’m guessing when we told them that Ryan is a landscape architect, this wasn’t quite what they expected out of us.
The first place that we mulched was the front curb bed, where we had transplanted northern sea oats (taken from Ryan’s parents) and privet hedge that Ryan transplanted from around the house (hey, better than mowing them down). Installing the hedge was one of the first projects we took on when we moved in. Planting it was the easy part. From there, it was us against the heat. For a while, I was carrying a 6 gallon jug full of water down to the road. Adding it to my morning watering routine a couple time a week. (It was work, but you know how I love to build them guns.)
Thanks to the mulch, I was finally able to put my mind at rest over these guys living or dying between getting watered. The grasses and privet are fine on their own once they are established, but they were all drying out quickly between rains.
A new bed was created along the side of the mini hugelkultur bed for squash, pumpkins, watermelon. This was the easiest garden bed we have built. There was no ground broken, no raised bed built, just good old sheet mulching. A week after Ryan and his dad cleared overgrown brush along the side yard and utility easement, we went straight in for our seventh bed.
We added a layer of cardboard and paper and covered the mini hugelkultur bed with shredded newspaper. (At times I am afraid we won’t use all of the cardboard that we have saved or been given, but I have been proven wrong time and time again, like here and here.)
Woodchip mulch was added on top of all the paper. This really only made a dent in the first woodchip pile, or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.
I have never used fresh woodchips like these before (Ryan has). There have been some things that surprised, such as the pile getting incredibly hot and bees flocking to it for the first few days. Ryan had told me that piles of woodchips get hot, but this-was-HOT. It was so hot that I didn’t want Ryan to touch it (he doesn’t like to work in gloves). With gloves on (I don’t roll any other way), I dumped the woodchips, and he would spread the cooled off chips around the plants.
This was virtually a dead space (sloped ground and over grown) before. Now it is on its way to becoming a little food forest.
Then, we did a little experimenting. I packed mulch around the edges of all the garden beds in attempt to keep in moisture. (If nothing else it adds a nice edge.)
After that I made my way to creating pathways.
This was about the point I took a big gulp and filled my head with positive thoughts, that we would in fact find a way to get through these piles.
Mulch was added thick around all the trees covering exposed roots and spreading out a good distance. This comes full circle for us. A healthy tree produces healthy leaves. In the fall, we will rake the leaves and create compost for next year. Compost is full of nutrients and all kinds of biological goodness that will be a big natural boost to our gardens.
With some of our more important locations mulched, I moved to areas less in need of the mulching benefits, and just more pleasing to the eye. Hostas and liriope were already growing around the front entry to the house when we moved in, but they were just growing randomly. Ryan moved them to create a pattern and expose them to more sunlight.
This was my next target. I got through a few wheelbarrow loads before calling it a day.
We have a lot more mulching ahead of us, (as well as some obvious sweeping) and we have a few more ways up our sleeves to utilize the free woodchips. With more beds to be built and compost to be made, I am going to hold strong that we will in fact get through these glorious chips.
Until then, mulching madness continues. (This is after doing all that mulching and more… thinking positive thoughts.)