Monthly Archives: October 2015

Even Gardens Get Blankies – Time for Mulch

2015-10-20 CD rake and leavesOk, so I was pretty suspicious of the “let’s put down a blankie” idea for the garden before winter. If you have met me, you know that I am not the type of person who makes my own crackers. I buy them. In the garden, I will do fussy things but only if there is a good reason to do it. I resist babying plants and I resist doing things in the garden that make humans feel better rather than make an actual difference in the garden.

As I read studies about using winter mulch, I realized that the reason for mulch is not the COLD per se – the problem is temperature fluctuation, often from the sun’s rays. Cold is cold. The goal of bed covering in winter is not to stop freezing – it is to minimize the top layer of soil from warming up and cooling down. This freeze-thaw action forces smaller plants up and dislodges them from the soil surface. Now vulnerable and stranded, the plant’s roots dry out. (Ok, so I feel a little sympathy now …) Warming soil during midwinter thaws can also encourage plants to come out of dormancy in addition to being popped out of the soil surface by plummeting temperatures.

To assist your perennials (or more recently planted small shrubs) this winter, shade the soil around them to protect against the sun heating up the soil. Snow cover is the best winter insulator but is undependable – once we get snow, lightly push snow back onto beds when you can. Before the snow comes, we recommend adding 2-4 inches of chopped leaves, pine needles, salt marsh hay or sterile straw over the crown of the perennials and around the root zone after you have cut the perennials back and after temperatures are staying consistently in the 50-40F range.

More than just a comfort object, your garden’s ‘blankie’ of winter mulch will help keep it snug and minimize winter damage. Let us help you put your garden beds to sleep before the snow flies!

Tales from a New Gardener

2015-10-1 Curtis gardener question pixContributed by Curtis Hawley

Have you ever had the opportunity to learn something new and you begin to realize more and more that you’re just at the beginning of a long, rewarding path? Isn’t it exciting? As the newest member of Christie Dustman & Co., I’ve had quite a year. Even with prior experience in landscaping and client relations, I’ve never been a part of a relationship where clients come out to meet our crews when we arrive, greet us with a warm smile and then bubble over with gardening ideas to discuss with us that they’ve been contemplating since our last visit. It’s very reminiscent of a child excited to receive their big gift around the holidays – that sort of unabashed enthusiasm is contagious.

If you haven’t already taken advantage of this aspect of our services I highly recommend it. Our crew is extremely knowledgeable and all are great teachers. They’ve shared careers’ worth of wisdom and tips through helpful direction that has helped me go from a novice to professional level gardener in a short amount of time. They’ll help you too! It never fails that if you come out to ask our crew a question or two when we’re on your property, you’re going to get a nice walk through of your garden, highlighting important growing tips and seasonal expectations of your garden’s aesthetic. Take it from me: awareness of your garden is the first step to truly appreciating your garden.

As the season has now changed to Autumn and the leaves will soon drop, I can’t help but be contemplative of the past year. I thank you for indulging me and I hope you look back at this past season with as much fondness as I have. I think I can speak for everyone here at Christie Dustman & Co. that we’ve enjoyed each and every opportunity to work with you and look forward to those exciting moments that are still to come.

2015-10-1 curtis + tim with leaf barrels