Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A "Weeding Mantra" Time of Year

It's the time of year when I find myself reciting my weeding mantra over and over, sometimes even in my sleep, "A year of seed equals 7 years of weed.  A year of seed equals 7 years of weed.  A year of seed equals 7 years of weed."  It's amazing how much motivation that simple sentence can provide for me!

Along with weeding, I am also mulching my beds, especially those beds that are having weed issues.  Primarily these are the new(er) beds that need this important blanket spread to keep weed seeds that were present in the soil from sprouting.  Of course, all the beds benefit from mulch to maintain soil moisture, keep roots cool, and feed the soil; I'm just starting with the ones that need it the most.

This photo shows my newest cleared area from last year, with fresh mulch applied, plus the bark mulch path I'm creating through the beds, and (to the left) the new bed that I'm starting this year where a pine tree stood that was felled last year by pine wilt disease. You can see why I need to keep the already present weed seeds from getting a foothold in the new bed!

Here on the relatively open prairie, I rely on a 2 part mulch layer for most of my flower beds.  For the first part of this mulch combo, I put down a fairly heavy layer of chopped leaves.  I love chopped leaves as a mulch for perennials - they decompose quickly to feed the soil, plus it's easy to dig into and mix with the soil if I suddenly need to add a new perennial or move one to another location.  The second layer is a thin layer of mixed hardwood chips to weigh the leaves down and keep them from blowing away in the ever present Kansas wind.

Both parts of my preferred mulch duo have the added benefits of being basically free and of giving me the good feeling of diverting yard waste from the county landfill.  Greg and I leaf rustle in the fall, driving through heavily treed neighborhoods to pick up bags of leaves that have been put out by the curb for the trash companies to pick up.  If the leaves have been gathered with a lawnmower, all we have to do is empty the bags into our big "leaf mulch storage bin."  If the leaves were hand-raked, Greg dumps them into the bin and then runs the lawnmower over them a bit to chop them up.  (By chopping them up, we decrease their wind resistance and increase the speed at which they decompose in the beds.  They are also simply easier to handle this way.)

For the wood mulch layer, I was lucky enough to find a tree-trimming company (one that I had trim our trees, actually) that was happy to dump a free load or two of chipped up wood from another, nearby job.   The only downside to this abundance is that we now have a huge mountain of wood chips sitting next to the smaller mountain of topsoil, both easily visible when you pull in our driveway.  It's not optimal siting visually, but it's the best place to let a commercially sized dump truck empty its load without driving over large areas of our yard. And I'm darned if I'm moving the mountains more than one time (to their final destinations) wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow!

We didn't do our normal leaf rustling in the fall of 2010, so I went into last year's dry, hot summer with little leaf mulch to use in protecting my plants' roots.  I suspect that I lost several plants because of the lack of this good, protective layer.  I'm not going to make that mistake again this year!

So, "Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It's off to work I go!"  If you can't reach me this spring, there's a good chance it's because I'm outside mulching.


Claudia said...

After losing a pine tree last year too, I certainly feel your urgency to keep weeds from taking over. I like your leaf, wood chip mulch recipe. Hi-Ho...... c

greggo said...

Plan your mulch, mulch your plan.

~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

"A year of seed equals 7 years of weed." I had not heard it put that way before. Now I'm going to dream it too. Ha!
I too am noticing the beds that are thin on mulch because of the weeds. Hoping to find some time to go get mulch from our city's site soon. You have it good getting some delivered. I like the leaf layer approach.

~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Hello. Thanks for stopping by. I can't believe the lilacs this year either. They are the only plants that were here when we purchased the house that we haven't moved.
As for the clematis, it is 'Jackmanii.' I do give it a drink of water more often than the other plants surrounding it. I was worried about it when it first went in. Seeing it grow so much this year already is a good sign. I got a few blooms last year. They are a deep purple. I'm hoping for a lot this year. Good luck choosing a new one.

Melanie said...

Based on all the dandelion seed heads I saw standing in my yard this week. .I am DOOMED!! Especially since my children are of an age when they cannot be readily convinced NOT to blow the suckers!! GRR!! Won't be in your area this weekend. .but hoping to hit the flea market next Sunday. .we're trying not to plan too far ahead. My friend and I go at least once a year. .in Feb as we planned to go, her MIL got very sick and we cancelled (she later died) and then in March, my dad had his accident and died a couple days before our planned outing. We're keeping April's attempt hush-hush, lest anything spoil it!! I'll be in touch, as we will definitely be stopping at the Paramount antique mall in the late morning/early afternoon. .and be there for hours!! I'm thinking that would be a good place to meet! Have a wonderful weekend!