Ladies and gentlemen, I have done the improbable.
I have conquered Mt. Mulch!
I mulched things I had not intended to mulch, I mulched things that man was probably not MEANT to mulch, my forearms are almost as toned as when I was doing serious ceramics, and there’s a future bed in the back currently under about eighteen inches worth that will hopefully turn into compost by the time I get around to actually making a bed out of it…but the pile is gone.
Next year, five cubic yards! I’ll probably need that much to mulch all the new beds I had to put in because I ordered too much in the first place, ashes to ashes, mulch to mulch, world without end.
I celebrated by planting seeds. Some of them were carefully and deliberately chosen, like the Dragon Tongue bush beans and the Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumbers, but the majority were a few random seed packets to fill in holes in the landscape until the perennials fill in. So there’s a couple of packs of zinnias broadcast randomly through the beds out front—zinnias are awesome as hole fillers in this climate, and while they reseed vigorously all year, I don’t know if the seeds survive our winters very well, since I haven’t seen a single volunteer this spring. I also planted some nasturtiums along a couple of the beds, and figured “What the hell, worth a try,” with a pack of false indigo. (False indigo does fantastic down here, but I’ve never tried it from seed–it doesn’t set seed very well in the wild, owing to parasites.) And in the Death Bed run by weeds and (hopefully) slowly being conquered by judicious application of mountain mint and sporadic shrubs, which I mulched in a fit of desperation, I threw down a pack of showy evening primrose, which is a crazy spreader but hey, if you’re gonna have weeds, at least they can be attractive native weeds.
(I also transplanted in some sundrops, on the principle that the Oenothera genus can fight it out there with my blessing.)
The garden is doing pretty well. This is the third year, and supposedly perennials take three years to be established—“First they sleep, then they creep, then they leap.” In a couple of cases, this seems to be true—the wild quinine threw out twice the leaves of last year, the Carolina jessamine finally flowered, the cabbage leaf coneflower put out a shock of leaves as big as my torso, and the chocolate snakeroot practically lunged out of the ground.
In a few others, it’s only the second year and they seem to have gone for a kzin-style scream-and-leap. I hope to god that this is not them “creeping” or else next year’s garden will be nothing but New York aster, hardy ageratum, and swamp sunflower. The swamp sunflower is seriously scaring me. The plant consisted of a few leggy stalks last year, so this year I put one of those plant support grids over top of it, thinking they’d grow through. Instead they’re dense, leafy, and about to yank the grid out of the ground and possibly smash me over the head with it.
Next up, finishing the pond!