Friday, July 13, 2012
Tomorrow morning we will be hosting our first garden tour of the season. Everything is (almost) done and we have a few pre-dawn hours scheduled just to walk through and double-check the gardens.
This evening we were hosts at the pre-tour wine & cheese "Meet and Greet the Gardeners". We raised enough money to buy 750 flower bulbs for the townsfolk with our advance ticket sales. It was the best year ever for advance sales.
When we got home - dreading the amount of work that still needed to be done, we found that one of the guys who helps my DH with the heavy jobs around our bucolic manor had come over and top mulched over 1,500 square feet of the beds. It's a hands-on labor intensive job. Since the plants are mature, it's even more difficult.
To properly top mulch a bed, you have give it a good deep root soaking. This is the water that the mulch will hold in while it keeps the plants cool. Once you water the beds, you cannot step in them or else the soil gets too compressed and you kill plant roots. Also, the soil gets a little muddy - especially since we have a high clay soil here, so if you touch the soil, it sticks to you like glue.
Then you can start putting down the mulch. You have to do this by casting the mulch out 1 handful at a time - casting as if you're spreading chicken feed (like in the movies) - so the mulch goes underneath the leaves of the plants and not on the leaves of the plants. If you hit a leaf, you have to shake or rinse it off. Every single leaf has to be clean on tour day. Usually when you're hand casting mulch, you're also carrying your bucket of mulch - it weighs between 50-75 pounds.
Once the centers of the beds are done, you have to edge them with mulch. This doubles the layer of mulch surrounding the beds. It helps keep the water from running out of the beds and it also makes the eye think that there is a thicker layer of mulch than there really is. It looks fluffy.
Normally when you buy bags of mulch at the store, you will put down between 2-4 inches of mulch. We only put down a 1-inch layer.
And that's where the horse comes in.
We use an aged arabian stallion bedding mixture that has been aged for 5 years for our mulch. It contains the hay and such that they use for bedding in the stalls plus that "special gift" that the horses add to the bedding. We pick up 4 yards of it in the pickup and put it in strategically located pikes around the property.
So to sum it up - while we were at a cocktail party, this nice man came over and hauled about 2,000 pounds of composted horse droppings onto garden beds that would cover 1/2 a football field.
What a nice guy!