One thing a gardener learns early on is to follow the old adage, “Make hay while the sun shines.” Timing can be crucial in many things, and especially in gardening. Decide to sleep in instead of deadheading those chives, and a million seedlings appear that will eventually have to be weeded out. Binge watch movies instead of picking the strawberries, and when you finally do look, many will be rotten or ruined by birds or bugs. I could go on for hours…..but I won’t. (I hear your sigh of relief!) I will just say that I have learned that when it is dry enough to get my truck where I want it, it’s time to shovel mulch. So, that’s what I’ve been doing for days and days…shoveling, shoveling, shoveling…4 truckloads to date, and I’m happy I did, because last night, we finally got a huge, much-needed rain, which means I won’t be able to get my truck to the potager for days to come! I’m so glad I shoveled mulch while the sun shone and the ground was firm, even though it was 90 degrees! Now you can no longer see the bare landscape cloth in the potager’s paths. It looks so much nicer with mulched paths, don’t you agree?
And, the Front Island, Addition Garden, Potager’s exterior borders, Blue Garden, and Front Garden have also been mulched. I’d pat myself on the back, but my arms and shoulders are too tired to try.
Shoveling mulch is not that bad, but I’ve spent the last two days shoveling stone. Yep! Stone. Dixie River Rock to be exact. Two loads! I finally decided to stone the lavender slope. You may recall that I plopped 60 baby lavender plants onto a bare slope (it had been bull-dozed to make a level spot for the potager) on the south side of the potager. No soil prep, no great expectations. I just wanted to get them in the ground before winter, and crossed my fingers that they would survive. “Next spring, I’ll properly amend the soil, etc., etc., etc.,” I promised them. Well, needless to say, that didn’t happen, but amazingly all but one came through the winter, and they grew well over the summer. But, I was still not convinced they would survive, so I wasn’t about to invest in stone yet. (It’s 4 times more costly than mulch but of course lavender can’t tolerate wood chip mulch.) However, this winter was ghastly. Wet, wet, and more wet (need I mention lavender likes it dry?) and in that heavy clay their roots probably rarely dried out. And, when it turned bitter, bitter cold there was no snow cover for protection, and the west wind sweeps across the slope with icy breath. If they had all died, I wouldn’t have been surprised, but only 6 succumbed, and upon inspection, it was mostly due to rainfall eroding the soil away from their surface roots. So, I am rewarding their courage and endurance with a lovely layer of stone. Here’s the before (it’s embarrassingly ugly and I had tidied the landscape cloth and weeded!) You can count the 6 dead lavenders. Well, actually, you can only count five, because I pulled one out already. I’d show you the after, but it’s not quite finished because I ran out of stone.
but you can see a bit of it in this photo: It’s a lovely shade of warm brown that looks good with the potager fence. It will absorb heat and improve air circulation around the lavender plants, and hold that silly landscape cloth in place. Once it’s all stoned you won’t know that there are three different bits of landscape cloth underneath. I bet you noticed that right away, but at the time I had a little of this and a little of that, so that’s what was used. And, of course it will have a lovely clean, crisp top edge, the dead bits will be trimmed out, and the path between the slope and the potager will have a new layer of mulch. That won’t be happening until it dries out enough to get the truck back there again, and with rain in the forecast for today and again on the weekend it’s not likely. So, my shovel and I can both have a rest….or not. One makes hay, or shovels mulch and stone while the sun shines, but after a rain and while it’s overcast, a wise gardener weeds and plants.