3/05/2010

Let the Mulching Begin

My March bead journal project is the Red-breasted Nuthatch. We also have Pygmy Nuthatches.It's a spritely tiny bird and one of my favorites to watch at the feeder. Also this is the third installment of the saga of my garden for the birds..

Let the Mulching Begin

As mentioned earlier Spokane is semi-arid with 12-14” of moisture for the entire year and most of that is in the winter… It is not uncommon for us to go 80-90 days without rain during the summer. So if I wanted to have a bird garden without supplemental watering I simply had to mulch. My first impulse was to rush about planting here and there… a waste of time, energy and money. I decided to focus on 200-300 square feet each year and just put blinders on to the rest of the area…

Then what to use? Without a doubt my favorite ground cover material is old carpet….fairly easy to come by if you put the word out. Because of high landfill fees, one carpet installer was glad to give me the old carpet as he installed new carpet. … I did require it in larger pieces than he usually cut as he removed it. I was especially happy to get brown/gray carpet but settled for any color… (photo also shows organic fertilizer – deer droppings) If I didn't have enough carpet I used rolls of heavy black plastic, which I perforated with a pitchfork so the ground could breathe. With either the carpet or plastic it had to be covered with another layer.

At the time I was doing this there was an embargo on imported lumber so cedar mills nearby were operating full tilt. Shredded cedar bark was perfect for me as it knitted together and never rotted… Landscapers didn’t want it and the mills were anxious to dispose of it so it was incredibly cheap and I bought it by the dump truck loads. I credit my Garden Witch with this fortuitous chain of events because once the embargo was lifted a few years later, the mills quit running and shredded cedar bark was unavailable at any price. I ordered piles of bark like this every year for six years before I had the garden covered...



So an area was covered with carpet or plastic and then about 4-6” of shredded cedar bark. My husband would put the bark out in piles and then I would rake it out, cut holes and plant small seedlings and run a drip to it that I could turn on at night. Each year I added another area while the earlier ones became established and then I moved the drip to the new area.


Pictures are of the very first area I planted by the drive as it progressed over the years... It is now bird heaven. It is this critical step of mulching that has kept the garden thriving for 30 years. The original carpet or plastic are intact and the bark is still in place plus years of leaves falling has added to the mulch beautifully

This was after it was beginning to take hold...






This picture I took last fall from the back side of that same area.. I will have to take a new picture this spring. Some of the things planted for birds in just this area include wild roses, hawthorn tree, crab apple trees, junipers. apple tree, pine trees. pyracantha, elderberry, mulberry, bird cherry trees...just to name a few


Next month will be "Hips! Hips!, Hooray for Roses!!!"









4 comments:

Terri said...

I am so glad I met you. You are doing what i hope to do one day, and you are such a wonderful source of information and inspiration! This is soooo cool!

Sweetpea said...

I ADORE your nuthatch! And I especially love your connection to all things *birdie*!! What an extensive effort you are putting towards your garden - I'm going to really enjoy watching your progression on this...and the bead journal pages as well!

Lois2037 said...

Somehow I missed this post earlier. I love this piece. The nuthatch is one of my very favorite little birds. Sometimes I'm lucky to look out and see one or more on the tree outside my studio window. I love their energy, and ability to move up, down or upside down, along the trunk and branches.

Plays with Needles said...

Wow! It's no wonder you are dedicating the entire year to your bird sanctuary...what an incredible amount of work. You are the perfect example of how a little bit of work every year over the years can lead to your goal...my jaw is on the floor. What persistence! you rock! If I were ever to get stuck on a desert island, I wouldn't vote YOU off! No way, you're a keeper!

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