Turbulent Times and a Bucket of Mulch

There’s a recurrent pattern that we see each year as spring draws near. The weather is fit one day for penguins and the next for water-skiing. Degrees bounce around as unpredictably and irresponsibly as political commentary, and the clothes drawers and closets of all those who don’t wear flip-flops and shorts all year long become a disordered assembly of every stitch of clothing we own. Big fun. Turbulent times. Damp entryways. #IThinkIdLikeToDoWithoutThisYear.

Perhaps even more disheartening than this is the early emergence of your favorite perennials due to a few warm days at the end of February, followed by their untimely demise as Snowmaggedon and the Polar Vortex team up to freeze the life out of them at the start of March. #WouldThatILivedInTheTropics.

While there’s nothing we can do to adjust the weather, your closet, or the politicians, we can offer a simple tip that can help your perennials and early flowering shrubs from suffering too badly when the weather flips again. Mulch your beds. That’s right, mulch! #AndThisIsNotFakeNews.

One of the problems that smaller plants experience when the weather goes from one extreme to the next is the stress that their root systems deal with. Frozen like a rock. Floating in the muck. Sweating like it’s summer. Frozen again. Wind-whipped and tired. Buried in the snow. Rinse and repeat. It’s a very difficult time for plants. They’re just trying to wake up after a good nap when, out of the blue, they’re sucker-punched by the turmoil of the changing seasons.

An added layer of mulch prior to the chaos accomplishes two oftentimes life-saving tasks:

  1. Mulch moderates root temperatures. I suppose I’ve said a million or so times that “to grow a strong root-system is to grow a strong plant.” A root-system that is protected from the wild fluctuations of the weather is root system whose energy is used to produce strong plants when the weather finally settles down, rather than having the life sapped out of it by producing and continually re-producing new growth. Freeze and thaw. Freeze and thaw.

  2. Mulch moderates soil moisture. It’s not only that plants can literally drown when their roots are submerged in water for too long, it’s also that without moisture moderation, the freeze and thaw cycle can heave small plants right out of the ground. The nearer their roots are to the open frigid air, the more likely they are to freeze into little rootcicles. And just as their close cousin, the popsicle, gets licked into oblivion by the tongue of a child, so the exposed rootcicles get licked into oblivion as the drying winds pull all of the moisture from within.

So what is one to do? However can we be saved from such a fate?

Mulch. And if you don’t have a truck, it’s as simple as making a phone call, sending an email, messaging on Facebook or Instagram or employing smoke signals or a Carrier pigeon to bring us a note. #ButSkipTheSmokeSignals #TheyAreNotReliableInTheWind.

Probably best if you just click here.

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