Sunday, July 1, 2012

Make Your Own Mulch

   Probably any gardening climate calls for some type of mulch, but here in Oklahoma at the height of summertime, using some sort of ground cover between your plants is pretty much a must. We all need something to slow down weed growth and prevent the soil from losing too much moisture. I am personally not a fan of the commercially bagged mulches for which all big box stores are happy to take your loads of extra cash. I like to use either dried grass clippings, rotted dried leaves, or my new favorite... shredded paper.



   The first thing to celebrate is that shredded paper is basically free. Most offices produce it, and lots of homes do now too. You are recycling something that would otherwise go to a landfill somewhere. Around the Lazy W, just one big trash bag filled with shred is all I need to refresh the vegetable garden and fill our chicken coop nesting boxes, plus a little extra for the flower beds. You need a lot less in each little area than you might expect, and it clings to itself and retains water magically.


   This past week on Wednesday morning I scattered shredded paper all through the garden then watered it all down, deeply. I ended up getting pretty sick on Thursday, spent Friday split between the doctor and my bed, and never got back outside until sometime Saturday morning. During all of these days and nights, we had 100-plus temperatures and zero rain, so I expected some withering and suffering. You know what? Nope. The plants were still fluffy and vibrant and producing food, and the soil beneath the white shred was still damp! Seriously. I would not lie about gardening advice. I might lie about how much I weigh or the status of my library account, but not about how effective shred is as mulch. It is very effective. And I know that when it has done its job, the paper will just decompose into the earth. The worms are crazy for the stuff.


   This photo really shows how nicely some shred fills in the spaces between the growing plants. I also like how the white cools everything and brightens up the garden. I suppose if you were to shred some colored paper or used wrapping paper, all the better! The possibilities are limitless. If you try this with colored paper, will you pretty please share a photo? I would love to see that!


   Here is my soy bean experiment bed, growing like gangbusters! In the gentle morning shade, these vines display fuzzy little purple blooms which should soon grow into edible pods. My eldest human chicken is very excited about that. I'll keep you posted.


   We are up to 714 farm fresh eggs and two and a half zillion baby cucumbers.


   This is not our biggest watermelon on the vine, but it is the most hilarious. I can see it almost from the house when I walk downhill, just hanging right there in the middle of the garden gate, looking out. It has kind of a high pitched voice and only sings, never speaks. It sings to me questions about freedom and democracy,  love and destiny. This round little fruit is heavy for its size both in ounces and wisdom.


All You Need is Love!



   Besides my garden, do you know what else I love at the farm? Everything. Specifically? I love this fuzzy behemoth so dang much. Chunk-hi let me scratch and cuddle and kiss him for about a million hours on Saturday night. He let me cover his eyes and play gone-gone-peekaboo, squeeze his long floppy ears, steer his horns, pull his beard, rub his wet leathery nose, everything... He is a big, warm, dangerously gentle hunka hunka burnin love around this crazy place.

   Okay, friends, if your garden needs some ground-level TLC, I hope you will consider shredded paper as an option. Get out there this week and enjoy all the changing beauty, no matter what else is going on. Know that your garden connects you to God.

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xoxoxoxo



14 comments:

  1. Maria - I love this post so much. You are speaking my language and I'm hearing it with my heart. I should love to be the godmother of your funny watermelon. When it reaches the age of accountability, I'd love to know if its singing voice changes! Have a wonderful evening...Love, Kelly

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    1. P.S. I must have typed Maria (perhaps, thinking the melon was singing the "Maria" song from the musical?) so I just wanted you to know that I haven't once again misidentified you...it's just my silly pinkie typing what it wishes while the middle finger on my left hand must have been daydreaming.

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    2. hehehe Kelly. You would be the *perfect* godmother for this funny little watermelon. Should I be concerned that he keeps asking for the car keys? Shouldn't his voice change BEFORE that happens? Maybe he just wants to make sure I stay home so we can philosophize endlessly. Oh and I definitely answer to Maria, Alison, Sally, you name it. LOL But thanks for getting that sweet song in my head. ; ) Have a wonderful week! XOXO

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  2. Your garden looks great!! Sorry you were sick. Hope you are feeling better.

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    1. Thanks Ms. Louisiana!! Yep, I am all better now. How grows your garden this year?

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    2. Thank you Sabrina!! xo Felling good, hope you have time to garden in Louisiana this year!

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  3. Wow, Marie - you're garden looks awesome! I'm going to try the paper shred idea - I have some waiting in the shredder. Went down to the garden tonight to pick my first cherry tomatoe and it was gone! I guess either the rabbits or the raccoon family got it. Oh well, there are HUNDREDS more coming!

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    1. Aww thanks Heather. Those dang rabbits! Oh well, there will be more tomatoes I bet. I don't even know how to deter rabbits & raccoons, we have them but our dog keeps them at bay. Hmmm... Good luck lady. And YAY for shredded paper!! XO

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    1. Ha! I tend to hear "dorky" more often. Thanks!

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  5. I have a funny little story bout the time I used shredded paper on my 1/4 acre of raspberries. I worked all day on laying it, I was new to Oklahoma and I watched in awe and fascination as a mild wind came up and took the rows completely off and landed them in my neighbors pasture. (I don't believe we have wind in Seattle) I laugh about it so heartily now... but I was poopin' my pants back then. So now I water it down real good, but if you could have seen it. It was like bank of America had just TP'd my neighbors house! HA so so funny now.....

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    1. Lisa that is a great story!! I think that native Okies take the wind for granted a little, we maybe forget how unusual it might seem to new comers? Yep, watering down the shred is KEY. LOL I would have LOVED to see that paper explosion! What a way to get acquainted with the neighbors. hehe

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  6. You are delightful. I want to garden but I know nothing about it, this post is very helpful. I had no idea about shreddings and mulch. I want to come scratch your Chunk-Hi. We pass a pasture of buffalo going to and from our temporary home and almost every time, we pull over just to watch. They are the highlight of our day.

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    1. Hi there! I have a feeling that your new home out east in Appalachia will be an amazing place to experiment with green stuff. I envy that a little. Just dive in and have fun! As for the buff, how cool that you see a group regularly! En masse they behave much differently, mesmerizing, right? And I do hope you find time to come scratch this bachelor some day! XO He is a sweetie through and through.

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Hey thanks for commenting! I love hearing from people. It's the best. I have recently added word verification, a necessary annoyance. Have a wonderful day!

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