Since we have had no rain for forty days and forty nights, all the growing stuff is stressed out.
Dry it is. Sunny. With at times solid south westerlies. Painful days for cellulose, when you are sentenced to living outside.
My problem is that this occurrence returns every year over July and August or even as early as June. I run out of tank water soon after I run out of mulch.
To keep the plants alive I have to hand water as I don't like using my buried hose irrigation system.
While I wait for the rains to come -- all in their own good time -- it struck me that I could engineer the bare bones of a solution.
Since I know I am gonna run out of grass clippings which are delivered by a local mowing contractor -- as when it gets colder and drier the grass stops growing the the mower man stops mowing -- then every year at this time I need to mulch over the garden beds some other way.
Methinks: "umm...how to do dat?"
So I've begun to 're-paper' all the beds with thick layer of wet newspaper. The scattering of a few handfuls of clippings on top of this is mere aesthetics and anchorage. Here where I live I can get enough newspapers and catalogues to blanket the beds by touring the neighborhood with a shopping trolley and picking up the littered drop offs at those places I know don't read, let alone pick up, their junk mail. I just have to go out and about a few times -- well, many times -- to collect an adequate supply.
Mulching now, also protects the beds in time for spring sowing.
This raises the question of my standard handling of my main mulch resource: grass clippings. If you don't know, grass mulches down to almost nothing and it goes about that composting business rather quickly.
But free is free, right?
My original grand plan was to carpet my chook pen with all my delivered clippings and later to take all that up to throw atop the garden beds.
I'm thinking that if I become more reliant on newsprint as my mulch carpet and paper the beds once or twice per year -- maybe a preferred protocol should be to sentence all my grass clippings to soak up chicken shit before they get to the garden. That's double handling of course...but then I get to harvest and utilize all that poo. The chooks may also pick out any seeds in the grasses and do away with their weedful futures.
Collecting foul manure in other ways ain't easy, especially on sandy soil such as mine.
Waste not/Want not.
I'd be really enclosing 'my system'.
If I spread chook run rakings on the garden beds without the underlying newspaper layer I'd risk plant burning and nitrogen overload. The manures soaked up by the clippings would also be availed a window of time to compost before they were absorbed into the underlying soil.
So I get a mulch and fertilizer combo -- so long as the carpet of newsprint has already been laid.
Its' all about time, right?
Being a lazy gardener, slopping down wet newspaper isn't my favorite activity. But I try to ease the pain . I open out the newspapers and catalogue rolls and lay them flat on the floor of my wheel barrow, then drown the lot by running in the hose. After an half hour's marinading they're ready.
(I wonder if it is opportune to add some fertilizer or seaweed mix to the wheel barrow water?)
In other news, it seems my terracotta wine coolers are doing their job. Slowly does the water seep through the clay into the neighboring soil. Unfortunately my dogs knock over/off my lids -- bathroom tiles -- when they chase the fruit bats at night. But other than that inconvenience -- I'm dead set keen on getting more of these jars.