Yes, this is serious!! Now is the time to get down a fresh layer of mulch. Lots of it! The better your mulch the less weeds you will have to conquer down the road. But that's not the only reason to put down mulch. It really helps to even out soil temperatures so fluctuations are less dramatic which is easier on roots. Mulch also helps retain soil moisture which is especially beneficial in a dry season when there may be watering limitations. And it's pretty.
I prefer a natural mulch. Cedar mulch or wood chips. Sometimes I come across arborists with wood chips to give away which is a reason to get very excited. I know they sometimes pay to take them to the dump. So that is a win win situation. I know wood chips are not as refined as finished mulch you can purchase. It looks a little raw when you first put it down. Personally, I don't mind that but if you want to age it you can mix some grass clippings into the pile. Grass clippings have a higher level of nitrogen than chips and will decompose quickly darkening the chips in the process. Or if you have room you can let it sit around for a year and it will darken on its own. A pile to use for this year and a pile to age for next year. Get a pile every year and you will have a steady supply of aged wood chips. In addition, as natural mulch decomposes it adds organic matter to the soil which is always in short supply.
One thing to avoid is marble chips. I'm not a fan of the aesthetics but more than that, marble is compressed limestone. Limestone is what you use to raise the pH of your soil. Marble chips are a constant source of limestone which can raise the pH to deadly levels. I once went to Yankee Stadium and was appalled by the dead azaleas in the area filled with brass monuments of great players. Plastic geraniums were stuck in the ground to compensate. I wrote to George Steinbrenner to explain how the marble chips were killing the acid loving plants and that Babe Ruth deserved better. I never heard back.
When you need a lot of mulch getting a load dropped off is the cheaper way to go. But that means you have to shovel it into a wheel barrow and then shovel or dump and spread it where you want it to go. If you don't have a good place to drop it that is another problem. Bags have the advantage of getting what you can install in a single session so you don't have to store it. You can also drive up pretty close to where you want to go and put the bags right where you want them. Take a sharp blade, slice the bags and dump them. So you are only moving them once.
I prefer to spread mulch first and then plant my annuals right through the mulch. Trying to work mulch in around those tiny plants is nerve-racking.
WHO'S SHOWING OFF NOW??
Lots of things blooming now. Of course daffodils are just coming into their glory. No pink ones yet. They tend to show up later. But there are many flowers out now and this is just the beginning. The previous owner of Tiny Farm owned it for 75 years and was an avid gardener. I have added to her collection but every spring I thank her silently for her enthusiastic daffodil planting. The woods are full of them but they haven't started quite yet.
Along with the daffs, the deciduous azaleas have started a bit early and one camellia.
IN THE GREENHOUSE
We have a few show-offs indoors as well. The hanging basket begonias that graced the front porch last summer were recently cut way back and fertilized. They are thanking us for the attention. Also in the world of begonias, the Dannie Girl Begonia
we think might be called Beefsteak Begonia and is considered a hard-to-find heirloom variety. It is a truly delightful plant and I am so thankful Dannie shared it with me. It was not happy in the sunnier parts of the greenhouse and is now thriving in indirect sunlight by my potting bench. Which means it will make a great flowering houseplant in an east or west facing window. The foliage is gorgeous but the many spikes of flowers that arrive with no fuss are kind of amazing.
This unusual Tradescantia is also runway worthy. The colors on the foliage are even more intense in the abundant flowers.
This weird houseplant is called Pregnant Onion, Ornithogalum caudatum. The flower spikes last for weeks as they continuously elongate with new flowers at the tip.
I have mentioned that I am moving all my miniature roses indoors into pots. They just get overwhelmed in garden beds. So far this is working out great. This one is blooming and another already has a couple of buds.
Another plant that is blooming with gusto is my lemon tree. It was a gift from a person moving to Montana. They didn't think the plant would be happy with that kind of trauma. Not only does the plant produce lemons but the scent of the flowers is intoxicating.
But don't forget about starting seeds. This assortment is doing well. Bottom heat really helps with germination.
Juniper is driving me crazy. Yesterday she chewed up Tommy's favorite Mickey Mouse hoodie. But no accidents in the house and she is making friends with Wolfbane the cat. She is a love and will soon (I hope) be a perfect dog. Little Kousa Dogwood is not so sure.
But they both love Jordan.
The "All New" Garden Show aired for the first time March 19, 10 to noon, on WOLD. If you missed it but would like to hear it, it is now available on the website archives.
http://www.woldradio.com/garden_show.html The show can be heard on 95.1 FM every Sunday. You can also stream on WOLDRadio.com. But even more amazing is that you can tune in via your telephone. This connection is not internet streaming (of course you can do that) but just a phone call from any telephone, landline or mobile. Dial 518-737-0158 and join us.
If you have questions, you can send them here to the website or save them to call into the show. That number is 908-448-zero-95-1 (908-448-0951). It is a tricky way of getting the place on the dial imbedded into the phone number. Talk soon.