A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ahhhh...the smell of mulch, wet with morning dew

This weekend was full of lots of hard work and a great deal of satisfaction.  As always, things did not get done in the order they were planned, but it was lovely nevertheless.  I have been holding off getting mulch in order to save the money.  However, I got tired of waiting to get all these beds and new areas mulched, so I went ahead and ordered it to be delivered Saturday morning.  I ordered conservatively (cutting my order to 2/3 what I intended to order) for the sake of expense.  Not long after I returned from the farmer's market, the big truck arrived and dropped my mulch next to, and in, the driveway.  Ten cubic yards.  That is WHOLE LOT of mulch.  I usually go get it myself, but I knew I wanted a large amount, so I decided to have it delivered instead of making ten trips myself.  I am certain I would have paid more for gas to make the trips than the 30 dollar delivery fee they charged.  The time they saved me was also priceless.

We have already begun chipping away at the pile (pardon the unintentional pun).  The bed between the house and the sidewalk has been a real problem since I removed the bushes a few years back.  When I took out the old juniper bushes, I also removed a fair amount of soil at the same time.  It looked silly mounded toward the house,so I took care to level it out as I worked.  This, however, was a mistake.  I have had trouble with water in the basement ever since.  What I did was, in effect, create a lovely place for water to pool and then run into my basement.  SO, this weekend, we placed soil (top soil purchased in bags - deliberately - from the local ACE hardware) along the foundation wall and sloped it toward the sidewalk.  I laid the bags in place, then sliced three sides of the upfacing surface to create a flap of plastic.  I laid that forward and graded the soil toward the cement, covering the plastic.   This served two purposes.  First, I have very little planted in this bed and plan to keep it that way, so this formed a nice barrier between my new top soil and the oxalis and other assorted weeds that have been plaguing me for sometime.  Second, it also will hopefully serve as a rain water barrier, directing the water away from the house.  As soon as I got a section sloped to my liking, S came along with our new mulch and finished the job.  We have just four blueberry bushes planted out there, acting as shrubs, that also give us sweet, delicious berries.  We carefully mulched around them and then added some Lobularia 'Snow Princess' in between for a sprinkling of white.  There are a perfect compliment to the dark hardwood mulch and the spritely green leaves of the blueberry bushes.  We finished this bed together, then S completed mulching and edging a number of other areas as well while I worked to get some of the garden planted.

He cleared, mulched and edged all the way from the front steps around to the end of the house, redefining the contour of the bed as he went.  Then he moved out behind the house, mulching a new area along side the shed (that also houses the hens), and along the west side of their run.  He laid out the outline and began filling in the new area that includes the propane tank, the big maple tree and the cozy swing from which we overlook the yard and garden.  That area has never been mulched and is a significantly larger project.  He will return to that project when he next works outdoors.  We worked with the mulch from sometime yesterday afternoon, until late in the evening when the rain chased us indoors.  A failed attempt at a bonfire completed our Saturday (rain again).

This morning, we woke, dressed, ate a quick bite and headed outside.  Right away we set about moving as much mulch and planting as much as possible, working until dinner time.  The hardwood chippings we bought are finely ground and a fantastic consistency for decorative flowerbeds and pathways.  The downside to it being so finely ground is that it is already "working," or decomposing a bit.  This means it smells, well, unpleasant.  This wears off fairly quickly and the color will lighten as it dries while the sun bleaches it a bit.  However, first thing in the morning, with the dew wet, temperatures warm, and the air still, the smell is strong.  Somehow, though, I did not find the smell so unpleasant.  Although there is no manner of pleasantness about the actual scent, what it represented to me was invigorating.  We have spent time getting the beds and areas ready for the mulch; having the mulch here, finally, means we are well on our way to finishing the yard projects and perhaps enjoying some lazy Sundays before the main harvest begins.  The greatest joy of a neatly landscaped yard is being able to sit and enjoy it.  I am heartily looking forward to that!

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