Go to fullsize imageIt’s Memorial Day this weekend and for me, that is not only a day to remember our veterans and service people but also a HUGE gardening event.  It’s the kick off to my summer planting/gardening extravaganza!  I am SO excited (you can tell by all my caps).  There is nothing better than getting your hands dirty in beautiful black soil.  Of course, my yard offers more of a hard tan clay than black gold but I like to fantasize a little. 

I think what I most enjoy about gardening is the process of finding out what works and what doesn’t.  It’s like a puzzle that is constantly changing.  One day you plant a flowerbed that fits together in size, shape and color, and than a month later everything is going in it’s own nonsensical direction.  And you begin the puzzle again, studying, sorting, and moving each plant.  It’s strangely relaxing to me.  I love it.

So, it’s only natural that I throw a somewhat new aspect into my gardening.  I am going to try and make my green thumb bigger, badder and greener!  This summer my gardening is going greener than ever!  I have been working on greening the inside of my house all winter and now it is time for my masterpiece.  I am going to greenify all aspects of my gardening plan.

I started today. Yes, true to form I began early because I was so excited.  I have a hard time waiting patiently if some of you haven’t noticed already.  I went to my favorite little local greenhouse for annuals.  By the way, get to know your local nursery.  They have oodles of info and if you look really sweet, they will give you great “unadvertised” discounts like they did for me today 🙂 I specifically looked for flowers that would require very little “intervention” for the sites I was going to place them.  That way, I won’t need to water them more than the other plant life in that area and they will be healthier and require less pest prevention.  Prevention of future problems is one of the keys to organic gardening.  I grabbed some varieties of marigolds for my sunny areas and some begonias for my shady zones.  Nothing exotic, just the standards.

I then grabbed some bags of cocoa hull mulch.  It’s the first time that I have used this personally.  I couldn’t resist placing the mulch in the flower beds by my front walkway.  Yum! Yum!  Everything out there smells like chocolate right now.  I can still smell it because in my rush to spread it, I inhaled all that dust and it’s trapped in my boogers.  Tomas is really annoyed with it.  He’s a vanilla man.  But that’s okay, he also is hiding his bottles of Round Up and bags of fertilizer from me this year.  He’s running scared from my big green thumb.  I kind of like it.  Anyway, back to the mulch. 

Cocoa mulch has some great qualities that help organic gardening.  For one, it’s the shell of the cocoa bean that removed during roasting.  Therefore, it’s utilizing all parts of our beloved cocoa beans.  There is also no chance that other seeds or weeds could be mixed into them.  It also retains moisture better than other mulches, gets darker with age, lasts longer and adds nutrients to the soil.  Plus, you can use it around any type of plant or tree without worry.  The one downside is that I can’t use it everywhere because I have pets that would want to eat it and since it’s the original source of chocolate, cocoa mulch can be bad for dogs if ingested. So, place it in areas where dogs won’t be tempted by it.  Or find a way to train your dog better than mine have ever been trained.  Seriously, I think my dogs were never even domesticated.  I think they are wild untrainable dingos.

Now that I have my first basic gardening purchases taken care of, I can focus on other aspects of my big green thumb.  Next up, figuring out how to make a cheap compost bin that suits my greenie soil needs and looks sassy cute.  Then, I am going to set up a series of rain barrels to assist me in my watering needs.  I am hoping I can tell a little difference in watering needs with these sweet smelling cocoa hulls but the proof will be in the puddin’.  I also need to look into a natural pest repellent in case of nasty little visitors that get past my integrated pest management tactics.  Finally, I want to begin a few veggie plants in pots (I have a really shady yard that doesn’t allow for a good veggie garden) and expand my herb/aromatherapy garden (Ah yes! The fruits of this garden also need to be used more efficiently this year.  As in, I need to use my herbs for something.)

But before I begin anything…this weekend holds the key to my organic gardening practice.  A huge sale at a local wholesale nursery.  Locally grown shrubs, trees and perrenials at beyond believable prices.  It’s an annual event for my mother, sister and myself.  Rain or shine, we are there searching for special specimens that we just have to purchase, if only for the fact that it is dirt cheap.

Read about Cocoa Mulch here and here and here (the last link is by the ASPCA about dogs and dangers)