It’s that time of year; gardeners get itchy to play in dirt, and spouses of gardeners pull out lounge chairs. Planting flowers (or shrubs or exotic grasses) can be a solitary pursuit, one for which the lounging spouse need not suffer any guilt, but there are some gardening-related activities where the absence of a spouse is more notable, and therefore less acceptable. I am, of course, referring to spreading mulch.
When spreading mulch meant buying bags of the stuff from Mahoney’s, it too could be watched from a guilt-free zone on the porch, or in the living room, or even from behind closed eyelids in one’s bed. But when you graduate to having a pile of it dumped at the end of the driveway, it can no longer be ignored by even the most obtuse spouse.
A yard is a unit of measure used for mulch, and likely its companion element dirt and other things that can be dumped from the back of large trucks. Initially I thought a yard of mulch would cover all our grass as well as our flowerbeds, not unlike Steven Wright’s shell collection, which he keeps on all the beaches of the world. I was relieved to find out that was not the case.
For several years now we’ve had three yards of mulch delivered as soon as it’s available. This year, my husband was chomping at the bit to get it even though I insisted that it was still too early. Fortunately, the mulch purveyor agreed and we had to wait another two weeks. I should have had the pleasure of saying I told you so to my husband after we got several inches of snow, but he was in sunny California working at the time.
I like to ponder nature from my kitchen window. I wonder, for instance, where squirrels go in the winter, and where slugs go during the day. But more than anything I wonder, where did last year’s mulch go?
Our backyard has a raised garden bed with quite a slope. If the mulch was sliding off, wouldn’t it end up in the grass? Does it disintegrate and become one with the earth? If so, why is that slope eroding, instead of getting higher? Is there an after-market for mulch, the way there appears to be for anything metal you put out with the garbage? Do mulch scavengers drive around after we’ve gone to bed and take it away a little bit at a time? Or does the crew who delivered it in the first place sneak it away to ensure that we’ll have to buy it again next spring?
For now, I will enjoy the newly-strewn terra cotta-colored mulch. It signals the end of winter and the beginning of life outdoors. And it makes the house look lovely and well cared for. Maybe this fall I will face a webcam out the window to see if I can discover where the mulch goes. Maybe then I’ll also find out where slugs go during the day.