Monday, November 14, 2011
All tucked in... gardening like God does, part II
Last week our meteorologist reported that we were in for an evening of "wintery mix" weather, so I roused myself and one of my daughters from early hibernation, and we went out to put the front yard to bed. The back yard and vegetable plots have been settled in for their long winter's nap for a while, but the front yard, like the child who never wants to go to sleep, needed a little more attention. It was just a matter of raking the last of the leaves and tucking them in around the perennials so that no earth showed. A little tricky with my vertigo-spinny head... I had to be careful not to rake myself into the leaf piles!
I've learned a lot about gardening in the eight years we've lived here, mostly through what other people would call laziness, or maybe even mistaken thinking. But the practice of letting the leaves fall as they may -- like God does -- and leaving them in the border beds in my back yard -- because I had too much yard work to do everywhere else -- showed me that the beds with ordinary leaf mulch did much better than the beds without. I used to be one of those people who liked to see the dirt around my plants... but now I see that there certainly aren't as many weeds in the leaf-mulched beds as in the ones I kept raked, and the plants grow better because they don't dry out so quickly and have a bit of natural compost -- also known as fertilizer -- with them at all times.
So when you walk past my front yard, you may think that I'm a lazy gardener... but the fact of the matter is that it took more effort to put the garden to bed with leaf mulch than it does to rake it all out. I raked those leaves together more often this year than I ever have... put that front yard to bed three times, and then the wind -- petulant child! -- came and undid everything! But this weekend, we got a bit of that wintery mix to stick those leaves to the soil, and hopefully, they'll stay put as part of the lasagna gardening technique I hope to employ out there on a more permanent basis. Next spring, those leaves will keep moisture in the earth and enrich it as they break down over a shorter time period than wood chips or commercial mulch. And guess what? Next fall, God and the trees will give me another layer of free, natural mulch!