Who knew mulching could be so therapeutic?! As the days get longer, mornings earlier, I am having to change my days around. Pre-dawn is about Etsy shop work. Then dawn and the ducks want out of their winter barn bedroom (now!).
The garden beckons to myself and the ducks, with its shade and sunlight, wonderful transitions of cool yet warming air. They earnestly hunt for worms and bugs whilst I weed, mulch or wattle around them.
We are in the process of giving our long border hedge a very short haircut. It is well overgrown, by about double it’s size, so very in need. The last two years we have worked to tame it, this year we wish to make it healthier. There is an enormous amount to be cut off. A good severe pruning is necessary to a hedge every 3 or so years to stimulate re-growth.
I now have an enormous pile of branches to deal with. The larger will be used for wattling. The smaller and left over bits I will mulch. Why? One reason is because here in France we are not allowed to burn our garden waste. It must be taken to the village dumping container, where it will be dealt with ‘safely’.
Our restoration garden with its overgrown walls, grounds and well, everything, has and continues to produce an enormous amount of detritus. I could be spending all my time going to the dump to get rid of it. Instead, I decided to find a better alternative. Depending on the size, what doesn’t go in the compost, I build into trellis tunnels, wattle or mulch.
Many of our garden bed borders have a wattling fence. Wattling is when you take long slender branches and weave them between stakes. You get a sort of basket affect. In fact it looks really nice, and natural.
We have added low wattling fencing to spaces between us and our neighbours. This allows us to see them and say hello, whilst still keeping our animals enclosed in our own garden and not wandering into theirs.
Last year began the process of wattling underneath the hedge itself. With it getting so big and top heavy, the bottom became quite bare. An easy area for the ducks to slip through into next doors garden. So with the branches from the pruning we weave them through the hedge trunks, creating a natural looking and rather hidden wall.
Alongside weaving branches comes mulching. The smaller pieces, too short to wattle with, get mulched. We practise permaculture now in our garden. As part of this we add cuttings direct to areas to create mulch in situ. A bonus about mulching is it helps to depress weeds.
Mulching, for me, entails sitting quietly in a chosen section of the garden, secateurs to hand, and cutting little branches (no more than a pinky finger in width), into tiny pieces. I slowly, ever so slowly, cover an area with tiny pieces.
I try to do an hour each day, if not more, as it is actually such a peacefully enjoyable task. The mulch is put on paths, around strawberries or raspberries, or wherever there is a need to depress weeds and/or enrich soil. I think it looks pretty too.