• Sofias Country Gardens

Spring mulch with sawdust


Last week my kind neighbour gave me a lovely surprise when he gifted me a whole wagon load of sawdust. For someone who values handbags and jewellery it might seem like an odd present, but as any gardener would understand it made me very very happy. He had been making loggs and instead of dumping the byproduct somewhere in the forrest, he thought I may have use of it. Which I do of course! It makes for excellent mulch, although as it is acidic it is better for use with acid-loving plants. It does also use a lot of nitrogen from the soil while decomposing, so if you have very nitrogen hungry perennials it may be worth adding some to the ground before applying the mulch layer.

Before mulching it is good to take time to weed the area properly, and as that is a very time consuming activity it has taken me all of this week to get my woodland garden done. Bare soil has a tendency to erupt in new little weeds as soon as you turn your back so I work one area at a time, weeding and mulching, to cover the soil as soon as it is bare. Sawdust tends to crust when left undisturbed, which reduces the amount of water reaching the ground and thereby inhibits weeds from growing. If you water the flowerbed really well before hand, it conversely prevents water evaporation from the soil and keeps it locked in for longer. Thats why spring is such a good time to use it, especially after the rainy weeks we've had when the soil is wet to the core. In summer I will have to water a bit if I see the plants drying up, but that I would probably need to do anyway. It may be that once or twice this summer and then in the autumn again I will rake it all over, just to break up sawdust cakes and let more water through.

I'm not very fond of the bright yellow colour it has as it reflects badly onto my flowers and skews the colour perception, but it is a small price to pay for the convenience of weeding less. The load I got was so big that I even had enough to mulch my new Spiera hedge by the sauna. As always when confronted with large areas that I know will not need to be disturbed for a while, I made a lasagna layer of wet newspaper underneath to act as a further layer of weed suppressants. I started in the morning, and it was late afternoon when I finished. Time flies when having fun...

Below the sauna the white Narcissus Trumpet daffodils have come up, much to my delight! I have placed an old aluminium bathtub in the middle of this wild border, but as yet it is not planted with flowers. It becomes quite hot and dry in summer, and I'm still thinking about what to plant it with. Perhaps catmint (Nepeta) or some such perennial...? Lavender doesn't survive winter in this cold climate, but otherwise it would have been a lovely option.

By the little hill that covers the sewage tanks and grey water cleaning systems wild wood anemones (Anemone nemorosa) are flowering together with Grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum), making for a sweet spring combination. Sadly the ugly green plastic tubes from the tanks steal the thunder, but one day I will get around to painting them in som less visible colour...

Last but not least, I've filled up the scrubland area underneath our fantastic multi stemmed pine tree with a layer of soil and sown a mix of wildflower seeds. It is not my intention to make any kind of border there - yet - but to introduce more bee friendly nectar plants to the area. My pink garden furniture has been moved outside by my sweet youngsters, but I haven't had coffee there once this spring. I blame it on the cold wind from the sea, but to be honest it's more likely because it's been a busy week.


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