Last year, I took hold of the vegetable garden as my terrain. I don’t know, Andrew might argue with that, but that’s the way I saw it. Yes, he built the wall and the fence around it, and told me what his plant preferences were, but then I took over and just got busy.
But this year, I have more help than I anticipated. While Milo attends preschool every morning, Oliver chips in with the heavy lifting.
Lately, that has involved leaf mulch. For those of you who don’t know, many cities offer free leaf mulch from the leaves they remove from your streets every autumn. They haul those piles away in big trucks and grind them into smithereens, then pile them up and let them cook in the hot sun, breaking them down into a kind of compost that steams as you scoop it into your containers in the cooler morning air. I am aware that many people use wood mulch in their gardens, but it is not recommended, as it adds no nutrients to your soil and often breeds mold. The idea is that is looks nice and holds some moisture in so your plants don’t dry out too quickly, and also protect the topsoil from erosion. But leaf mulch does all that PLUS adds important nutrients back to the soil.
The drawback to leaf mulch is that because it is such a natural choice, it needs to be applied more frequently (we do ours two to three times per year). This is because it breaks down more quickly than wood mulch (but if you think about this, it makes sense that it is better for your plants- think about leaves falling from trees in a forest and the rich black soil that develops underneath the layer of leaves- good stuff!).
So, we pick up free leaf mulch, haul it back to our house, and apply to garden beds (flowers and veggies alike) and also use a good amount to start new compost piles by mixing in sick dirt (what I call that hard, packed, clay-like stuff) and all the compostable kitchen stuff.
And so, on an afternoon when Elisa had the big boys and Emil was asleep in his carseat in the middle of the back lawn, I planted the first of our veggies: kale, spinach, broccoli, swiss chard, and some flowers for fun. Even if we still hit a cold spell, these hardy crops will be alright. Now we wait for the warm weather lovers; the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, and squash (which we will plant at the far side of the garden) in late April.
Raspberries goin’ strong!
Check back soon for some more tips on keeping that garden going strong!