Are you a fan of “This Old House” or “Ask This Old House”? These great programs always offer entertaining viewing, even if you aren’t actually doing any of the projects! Quite often, they will have a gardening segment. So it was with great enjoyment that on a recent frigid, blustery Saturday afternoon, we watched our favorite landscaper, Roger Cook, instruct a homeowner about how to properly mulch his front flowerbed.
When Roger moved on to offer some instructions for mulching a tree in the front yard, we heard an expression that was new to us: “mulch volcano”. Have you ever heard of that? The homeowner on the program had a neat circle of exposed soil around a tree in the middle of his front lawn. In this circle, he had put a thick layer of mulch, sweeping it up into a cone shape around the tree truck.
Roger swooped in on this area and explained that this was not a good idea. Why? He called it a “mulch volcano” and explained that while using mulch around the tree was a good idea, using too much and mounding it up like that (into a volcano shape) was a bad idea for a number of reasons. The continuous moisture around the tree trunk could cause disease; the tree could start sending out roots into the mulch, which would not really supply the tree with a firm anchor or any nutrients; and too thick a layer of mulch can prevent air from getting to the tree roots. With his usual vigor and enthusiasm, Roger dragged all the mulch away from the tree, cleaned up the area, and replaced the mulch with a fresh layer, about two inches thick. He did not put any mulch right against the tree trunk, kept the mulch flat, and did not mound it up.
Roger said that two to four inches of mulch is ideal. We know that more than that, and problems can arise. While mulch is excellent to help the soil retain moisture, keep soil temperature more even, and help to keep weeds down, too much mulch can keep the soil soggy, and air will not circulate. So like with all so many things in life, such as potato chips or butter and sour cream on a baked potato, too much of a good thing can actually be a bad thing!
As always, Roger had great gardening advice, but did not make the project seem intimidating. And he didn’t just tell us how it should be done, but got right in there and showed us the right way. If you haven’t see the program before, tune in: there are many helpful gardening hints.
Are we all ready for spring yet? The cold, cold temperatures that we have had in this new year are becoming a little tiresome, aren’t they. But now we can really see the days getting longer, both in the morning and the evening. Just for fun, I looked at the “Farmer’s Almanac” to see what they predicted for us. They were right on about colder temperatures and above normal snowfall. For the rest of the year, they predicted a drier spring, cooler summer temperatures, above-normal fall temperatures, and lower than normal summer and fall precipitation. We’ll see what happens!
The Yorkton and District Horticultural Society has a great year planned: we hope that you will be part of it! There are interesting speakers, and all kinds of events that will educate and entertain all gardeners! And you know by now that you don’t have to be a professional gardener to take part; as long as you’re interested in plants and flowers (even if you don’t have a garden!) we would love to have you join us! Gardeners never stop learning: there is always something new and exciting for us to discover!
Have a great week!