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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