Friday, October 29, 2010

It's all a load of MooDoo!

It wasn't me..............honest!

It’s a question of perspective. If it’s from dogs or cats; NASTY. Bag it up and get rid of it.

Bears? Smother it with leaves or branches before your dog rolls in it. Trust me; a bear well fed on blackberries leaves a seed studded jam-like “deposit” behind (correctly called scat of course). Ever tried to get that stuff out of your dog’s ears?

Chickens? Well if you compost the droppings and add it to wood shavings you get ‘chicken and chips’; a great weed suppressing mulch. Seriously; I buy it from DeJong’s in Redmond, WA.

We’re all familiar with horse manure of course (for the smell alone) but have you ever used MooDoo?

Layering cardboard to suppress weeds and grass
As the name suggests it is a by product so to speak from cows. When grass fed cows are taken in for milking all the muck and straw is put into vats to produce a slurry which is then used as a liquid fertilizer on the farms. The residue (solids) left behind is called MooDoo and according to Pat Roome, a well known local speaker, landscape designer and Master Gardener, it’s the best soil amendment and mulch she has ever used. It’s organic, free of weeds, hormones and antibiotics, can be delivered to your door (the garden might be better…) or picked up from the farm and is very reasonably priced. It’s available from several farms in the Seattle area including Hy-Grass Farm, Auburn (no website).  However I called Mark Vukich at 206 271 6490 who delivers from another local farm; a really nice guy who managed to reverse his big truck up our muddy "driveway" with a smile.

MooDoo is lighter in color than the compost
So I’m going to try it out and have just finished wheelbarrowing 12 yards of the stuff. Comments so far? Well Pat said it wasn't smelly, but I have to disagree with her there! Let's just say that the outer (drier) parts of the pile smelled like wet grass. The inner steaming portions did not; look at the dogs face....  I wouldn't suggest putting it right next to the patio for example! It's also much lighter in color than compost. However for my purposes it is ideal. I have an area approx. 100' x 30' which I am attempting to transform from an otherwise unusable piece of  land into a sort of woodland glade. To kill the weeds and grass I have laid cardboard sheets then added 6-8" MooDoo on top. I'll let the whole thing sit for 9 months or so to decompose before turning it over and planting in it. (This process is called sheet mulching).

I’ll let you know how the plants fare and if my dog prefers it over ‘parfum de bruin’.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spooky Stuff

One of the things I love most about America is the way folks celebrate (anything) in style! Halloween may not be my favorite holiday but I have to smile at the full blown house decorating that seems to start in early October.

Thanks to Diane of Issaquah for letting me share her porch with you.

I was recently asked by a client to replant her container gardens for the fall/winter season. Normally a straightforward task, I found myself navigating pumpkins, gravestones, spiders and spooky cats – and that was just to reach the porch! The obstacle course was worth it however just to see how well the summer plants had grown in and how perfectly they added to the Halloween drama.

'Bonfire' begonia, 'Henna' coleus and heuchera 'Caramel'
The annual ‘Bonfire’ begonia draped over the edge of one container like flickering tongues of fire while the ‘Henna’ Coleus proved to be the perfect partner for heuchera ‘Caramel’; both sharing shades of raspberry and copper. The serrated Coleus leaves look suitably teeth like when fronted by a wickedly grinning black cat.

There are actually two containers hidden underneath this volcanic like eruption (I’m not known for my minimalistic design). Other plants include the box honeysuckle ‘Lemon Beauty’ (Lonicera nitida), fuchsia ‘Autumnale’ (gorgeous tinted foliage) and orange hair sedge (Carex testacea) all in association with a stately Yew tree.

It almost looks planned…..

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Extravaganza!

Gardens should be a fun expression of who you are. I really can’t bear the sort of plant snobbery that dictates that a privet hedge is ‘boring’ or that chrysanthemums are for old ladies! They may not be everyone’s favorite, but if you like them and they serve your purpose then go for it.

Fall decorating is a bit that way. Some people go to town with a veritable farmer’s field of straw bales, scarecrows and dried corn together with a cornucopia of assorted gourds and pumpkins. I rarely get beyond a pumpkin by the front door!

I recently had the opportunity to go to the Dallas Arboretum as they were setting up their pumpkin patch (pumpkin
estate might have been a better term). With a ‘pumpkin budget’ of $10,000 it’s quite the production and while we may not have that sort of spare cash I did see some fun ideas we can scale down and try at home.

Did you know pumpkins can float? They had several large pumpkins tossing about in a formal pool looking like a game of ‘Bob Apple’ for giants. To prove the point, Liz Cooper of Issaquah kindly allowed me to float pumpkins in her koi pond; notice how the fish are suitably color coordinated! No pond? What about a birdbath or simple water bowl? Add the water loving corkscrew rush (Juncus spiralis) to the feature and you have a quick and easy fall vignette.

Who needs boxwoods when you can edge a border with pumpkins? Look at the way they have framed an exuberant late summer display with a neat row of fat orange pumpkins? What about lining the path to your front door? Would white pumpkins be better for your situation? Maybe try a circle of orange pumpkins at the base of a cobalt blue container. The pot could hold orange toned grasses such as orange hair sedge (Carex testacea), orange pansies, bronze chrysanthemums or just one giant pumpkin, all of which would tie the color scheme together beautifully.

A pumpkin house!! I just love this. Talk about a focal point. But here I need your ideas; how can we adapt this for the average garden? These pumpkins were sat on wire horizontal hoops projecting from the house frame. In summer they each support a 6” pot of summer annuals such as impatiens. Maybe we could decorate a dog kennel? Send me your creative ideas and let’s have some fun! 

Bottom’s Up!

“If you find me bottom up in the garden; you’ll know I died happy”. This was a statement made recently in a totally casual, matter of fact way by my garden-loving Mum, now 82 (and yes she is an English Mum not an American Mom). She has no intention of going anywhere anytime soon especially as she still has compost to shovel, containers to replant for winter and the greenhouse to clean in readiness for next spring and her annual propagating frenzy. The point is she loves to be in the garden and can’t imagine a life without it and I have to admit I agree with her.

There are always more plants to try, more things to learn and more rabbits to swear at…

My comment to my husband when we moved to this 5 acre property in Duvall last year was “That’s it; I’m not moving ever again! Just use me as rose fertilizer”. Same principle really. I’m happy, let me play.

If you feel the same way, you’ve found the right blog. Welcome to my gardening adventures.