Mother Nature’s Favorite Mulch: Tips from Carro & the NOTG Conservation Committee

Everyone knows that mulching suppresses weeds, buffers soil temperature, retains soil moisture, and reduces soil erosion. Decomposing mulch also adds organic matter to the soil. Pine straw seems to be the most popular choice for mulch, but I would like to offer you an easier, greener and cheaper option… your yard’s leaf litter.

Don’t bag your leaves and send them to the landfill! Leaf litter makes wonderful mulch both under the tree from which they fall and in your garden beds. Macro and micro invertebrates decompose the leaves which release nutrients into the soil to nourish your plants. Additionally, leaf litter aids in creating a biodiverse ecosystem in your yard by providing habitat for frogs, earthworms, beetles, crickets, centipedes, millipedes and butterfly pupae. Birds will come to forage for these insects to feed their young.

Let’s all adopt this easy and beneficial home conservation practice.

Armchair Travel Guide for Gardeners

Cherished are winter days curled up with a good book, and cherished too are winter nights curled up with the remote and a “binge worthy” program or movie. Your faithful Compost Heap editor recommends the following for chilly nights ahead.

Monty Don’s French Gardens

Netflix

British television host Monty Don leads a tour of France’s gardens and gardening history. From Le Notre’s formal parterres at Vaux le Vicomte and Versailles to the artistic gardens at Giverny, this is a feast for the senses and a celebration of France’s love affair with gardens through history.

P. Allen Smith’s Garden to Home, Garden Style, and Garden to Table

www.pallensmith.com

If you’ve been enchanted by Allen Smith’s gardening and lifestyle programs on PBS, you may be delighted to find that you can access any of them via YouTube, Roku, Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV. Visit his website to learn more.

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

PBS, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

This six-episode series by acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns chronicles the story of our national parks. It is a treasure. You can purchase specific episodes or the entire series on Amazon Video. PBS supporters can stream from www.pbs.org, and you may find the series on streaming services where it appears from time to time.

Get Those Bulbs in the Ground!

The next few weeks are an important time for planting tulips, hyacinths and other bulbs that have been taking up room in your refrigerator. Best results are usually obtained when prechilled tulip and hyacinth bulbs are planted into the garden in late December or early January as the soil may stay relatively warm until late December. Planting these pre-chilled bulbs in a soil that is still too warm can cancel the chilling process and lead to the bulbs blooming poorly.

Also, bulbs planted earlier bloom earlier – as early as February – and the weather is so unsettled at that time that the flowers may be more likely to be ruined by freezes and storms. Tulips and hyacinths planted over the next few weeks generally bloom in March and early April when the weather is more likely to be favorable.

Plant tulip and hyacinth bulbs in sunny to partly shaded areas that have good drainage. The bulbs should be planted into well-prepared beds that have been generously amended with organic matter and a light application of general-purpose fertilizer. Here in Louisiana we generally do not plant spring-flowering bulbs as deeply as is recommended for areas farther north. Tulips and hyacinths are planted about 5 inches deep, spaced about 3 or 4 inches apart.

Happy Planting!