Mulch ado about nothing

Mulch.  I just cracked myself up!

I think “Mulch ado about nothing” is one of my best blog titles ever, because I have never ever {to my knowledge} heard it said before.  Hahahahahahhahaha!  Yes, I think it is funny.  I am probably not the first, but I am not going to google-it yet…I will enjoy my utter hilariousness for a minute or two more.

Really, I was just planning to share some very unrelated and yet interrelated ideas and thoughts I have as I meander through the suburban backyard garden.

Garden wisdom I would like to share:

1.  Mulch is a protective cover you place onto the soil around your plantings to help retain moisture, stop the weeds from horning in, avoid erosion and to make pretty.  You can buy bags of red, shredded bark for beds and borders and it looks nice, but mulch can be shredded bark or newspapers, nut shells and any number of other materials.  Even in containers, I like to mulch to discourage all that darn evaporation that happens in hot Colorado on sunny days!

2.  I am late getting started.  So what is new?  It is never too late to garden, though.

And none of us are really late.  Yes, the lilacs bloomed 5 or 6 weeks early and we have had unseasonably mild days and nights.  Yes, the stretch of 80-degrees-plus temps have made us want to hit the pools, but people, I implore you!  Remember it is Colorado.  We could have a major blizzard in May.  I hope not, but we could.  Tender veggies and flowers are safer planted after Mother’s Day.  We can sneak a few into pots, but just be ready to haul them inside at a moment’s notice!

 3.  None of has superfluous time to spend.  And that’s OK.

Just tackle a 5-minute area: clear away dead winter debris and unleash the new green.  Water a little, think about something colorful to add, and voila: off to the garden races.  If we went outside for 5-15 minutes daily and planned to just deal with a 10-to-12-square-foot area, we’d be all over the yard in no time and healthier for the fresh air.

4.  Advice: don’t create a garden too big to handle.

Let’s talk veggies.  Most of us are not gardening to support our full vegetable and fruit intake for the entire year (although I really really really think we should start thinking about living a more self-sustainable life).  But every little bit we do to feed good, clean, organic food we grow in the soil ourselves, straight from the garden to the dinner table to our families – is just a thousand times better!  But people decide to garden and then bite off more than they can chew…or weed…or keep up with.  Start small.  Even a 4 x 4′ raised bed can do wonders.  Be successful with that and then add on.

Me?  I have 3  4’x4′ garden squares and some large pots for food gardening.  I also tuck veggies into other places around the borders because they can look decorative and get needed shade.  I learned everything I ever needed to know about gardening {this is true!!}  from Mel Bartholomew’s Square-Foot Gardening.  HIGHLY recommend!

5.  Advice:  If you are going to grow tomatoes, invest the time to grow the most amazing tomatoes on your block &/or in the universe.

This is a value I wholly subscribe to.  Try all the tips and tricks you ever hear of – from tying the tomatoes to metal stakes with strips of your old pantyhose (for the electrical charge), to burying seedlings with Epsom salts for the magnesium – or whatever else you hear.  Just grow good tomatoes.  It will speak so much about your character as a human being when you can spot the perfect tiny seedling and grow it into a fruit-producing machine that will taste so good.

Oh and, an extra piece of advice for free – never let a tomato go to waste.  Never ever.  Sauce them.  Roast them,  Sun-dry them.  Freeze them.  Sandwich them, deep fry them or salsa them.  Just EAT them for the love of God and all that is holy!

6.  Extreme truth:  there is no reason to garden at all if you are not growing tomatoes.  Don’t try to debate me on this {Bryan}.  Seriously.

Pictured:  The Kelley kids making garden stepping stones for me on a Sunday morning.

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