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A Few Gardening Words De-Coded

by High Country Gardens


We experienced gardeners bandy terms about like nobody's business. An email from a reader named Cynthia who had a questions about her garden and wanted to know if we could help. She planted her very first garden and wrote:

"I'm so new to gardening that what seasoned gardeners may know how to do in their sleep represents the big unknown to me."

So, If you're also new to all this, let me break some of the code words surrounding gardening. Let me be a little more specific.


Cynthia wanted to know if it's necessary to separate leaves that have fallen onto the mulch. She uses decorative cedar mulch.

Here's my experience on this: Decorative mulches, such as cedar, pecan shell, and pine bark all require a little more effort than say Soil Mender. At least the ‘blemishes' of leaves show more on these. But like the others, Soil Mender also looks nice, like a rich fertile soil. But if leaves fall on it, I just dig (bury) them back into the mulch and soil.

If you have decorative mulches and like the manicured look, yes, you'll need to pick off the leaves.

Landscape designer, Bob Ross also says, "Just like any other mulch, you'll need to refresh the decorative kind periodically." So instead of picking off the leaves, you might want to lay down another layer of mulch on top of those leaves.

Any organic mulch, which all those mentioned above are, decomposes and needs to be replenished in the spring and again in the fall.

Cynthia's letter continued: "What is to be done with the wood mulch covering the garden beds from last fall? Is it to be cleared away until the compost has been added, then spread back on top?"

This will work, and a lot of work it is. Again, what I like about Soil Mender® Mulch is it can be mixed into the existing soil along with the new compost, and it blends in easily.


Cynthia also wanted to know what "digging in" meant in regard to compost and such. So here goes:

You take a glob (handful, spoonful, shovelful, bucketful or front end loader full, depending on size of area and how much you want to use) and dump it onto the planting area. Then you dig it (turn it, mix it) into the existing soil, using either a shovel or in the case of small flowerbeds, a trowel.

Cynthia's questions were good, but her letter was also a reminder that a lot of gardening-certainly, mulching and composting-is so individual. How you do them is really up to you. You try different ways and different kinds of products until you find a solution that works. Then, of course, knowing the words that everyone uses while they're doing these things does help.

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