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Mulch! Mulch! Mulch!

The Times of Brownsville, Oregon

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This hot weather is really getting to me. I don't care for temperatures over 80 all that much to start with, and now we have to contend with the thermometer nearing the 100 degree mark. Will it ever end?

Hot weather is tough on all of us. It slows us down, and zaps our energy and makes us generally miserable.

The soaring temperatures do the same thing to our trees, plants and lawns, and the only way to amend that problem is to keep them hydrated. The problem here is the drought conditions we have experienced this year. In other words, we have a water shortage.

It's a serious problem, and concerns me when I see people watering their lawns to keep them green during a summer like this. Normally, this is just fine. I like a green lawn too, but with a water shortage like we have, a good option is to forego watering until the rains come. Withdrawing water from lawns simply forces the grass into dormancy. The first good rain will see the little green blades coming back.

Plants and the ground they grow in get parched, too. Only one day of over 90-degree temperatures will evaporate most of the water you gave them the day before. Covering your flower beds and vegetable gardens with organic materials will help prevent evaporation.

Try using your grass clipping, shredded leaves, buckwheat hulls, bark chips or hay. Even shredded newspapers work as long as the ink isn't toxic, which most aren't anymore. You can also try running the smaller branches from pruning through your chipper and putting it around your acid loving plants like rhododendrons, azaleas or berries. I use walnut shells that I get from my brother's farm around my blueberries, and sawdust from my husband's wood working projects. Both materials hold in moisture and break down slowly, serving a dual purpose.

Another way to help mulching along in your vegetable garden is to leave your weeding materials right where they are pulled. Ruth Stout, a pioneer of the no-till method of gardening never even had a compost pile. Nothing but the edible produce left the garden. Everything else stayed right where it grew to not only nourish the soil, but to mulch it She never mechanically watered either. Years of accumulation of organic material protected her plants from needing it. It was pretty radical thinking for the 1950s.

Not only will mulching save water and money, it'll save time. Don't forget to mulch, mulch, mulch!

For more information about the Calapooia Food Alliance and what it does, visit

Also, visit our Brownsville Fanner's Market Facebookpage for information about our new Thursday Market day from 3-7pm. In addition to locally grown produce and other local products, look for lots of fun activities and live music throughout the summer at the market on Main St. See you there!

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Original Publication Date: July 1, 2015

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