Who mulched California?

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Tue, 06 Jul 2004 11:30:22 PDT
Dear Jim,

I am glad you liked the pictures, but was really puzzled about which ones 
looked liked they were mulched. The pictures I added of the wild plants 
were of plants growing in rocks or in grass or road verges with native 
plants and non native weeds.

The new Brodiaea pictures, on the other hand, which I didn't add to the 
Mendocino-Sonoma Coast page were growing in my garden in an area that I am 
growing a number of bulbs and one that the hose doesn't reach and I'm 
keeping dry in summer. I started out letting native lotus grow there which 
worked really well as it dies down late summer-fall and does not reappear 
until spring when many of the bulbs I am growing there are done so covers 
up the dying foliage a bit. I like the leaves and the flowers some which 
are pink and some yellow.

But last year I let my enthusiasm for Clarkia rubicunda get the best of me 
and left too many of the ones that seeded themselves there and soon the bed 
was a mass of pink and the lotus had some real competition. I want to 
encourage it again so there are fewer Clarkias this year, but perhaps still 
too many. Last year in the fall I added the large woody parts of my compost 
pile that didn't make it through the screen as a mulch to that bed when 
everything was dormant. I think perhaps you can see it in the Brodiaea 
picture. Is that what you are referring to?

If so, the answer to your question of who mulched California, "I did." 
Probably many of us do who garden here since we rarely have any rain at all 
between May and sometimes October. And water is not always in good supply. 
My soil is very deficient in nutrients and many of the California bulbs 
grow in clay in their native habitat. It can be like a brick in summer, but 
while they are growing probably provides more nutrients than my decomposed 
and not decomposed sandstone does.  So I add mulch that hopefully will 
break down over time and help out. Some of the soil around here is so 
depleted that it is almost white in color. You mix in compost one year and 
the next year if you look, it seems white again. I learned from experience 
when the area where I used to shred suddenly was growing weeds, bulbs, and 
flowers that I hadn't planted there that just the little bits that fell on 
the ground from the shredder in a year or two made a difference. In fact a 
friend who specializes in soils advised me when I was planting a new bed to 
add half bark and half compost so there would be an immediate boost and a 
slower boost later when the bark eventually broke down.

Mary Sue

More information about the pbs mailing list