I see from my friend Heather's blog that she's also mulching. It's definitely that time of year: the weather is getting hot, the garden is getting dry. Mulching is the way to go if you want to keep the garden moist without constant watering. I use straw: it decomposes into the garden and saves me having to find other things (weeds, grass clippings, etc). It's also relatively cheap, considering. A bale of straw is ten bucks. I don't have a lot of grass in the yard anymore. Besides, the snakes like the straw. I have to think of the snakes, right?
Today I went to work tucking it into all the dry spots of the garden. Here we have the tomatillo border. Tomatilloes = good salsa.
I also laid it near the border of my Neighbour Who Never Weeds' garden. They have lots of quack grass and dandelions and while I do like dandelions, I do not like quack grass. Tragically, quack grass likes me. Sigh.
(In the oak barrel: cantaloupe and ornamental gourds)
It wasn't until I was mulching the plants in the greenhouse that I noticed all the leftover plants, sitting forlornly on the shelves. I had 4 eggplants, 26 tomatoes, 3 hot chilies, 9 cucumber starts, some pots of carrots and lettuce, and a couple dozen sunflowers. If I didn't plant them then and there I knew I'd leave them to languish to death. I might be a stalwart Jane Austen Heroine but I am also constitutionally unable to leave a plant to strangle in its roots in a pot too small for normal life. So I did what I could: I planted the eggplants in pots of compost against the heat of the house wall, planted the cucumbers around my new arbour, planted the sunflowers where they are likely to be noticed when the twins have their birthday party (we always have sunflowers for their birthday), then stared uneasily at the tomatoes. Twenty-six tomatoes is a lot of tomatoes when you have a garden like mine. I live in a city: my yard is big for a city lot (it's a quarter of an acre) but truly, it's not big enough to handle hundreds and hundreds of plants. At the moment I'm pushing it...
Luckily that's when I remembered my crumbling old compost bin. The one the ants have sequestered. It's at the end of the garden, all by itself (which is probably why the ants have taken it over). It's one of those black plastic ones the city gives out for a nominal fee. I like them well enough but they aren't useful for a big yard. They fill up too quickly but don't rot quickly at all.
So I lifted the entire container off the pile. It was seething with a zillion equally seething ants. Discomfited ants. Irritable ants. Worried ants. Annoyed ants. Ants with no place to go all of a sudden. Ants who made their immediate way to my arms and ankles. I felt a moment's pang ("Poor Ants!") then grabbed the garden fork and smashed the pile into a relatively sedate oval, well, as sedate as one could given all those ants. Then I plonked all 26 tomato plants on top. I swathed it with straw. Then I got FDPG, who had been standing by (quite gripped by the spectacle of zillions of ants not to mention all those baby snakes when we dug up the garlic) to aim the water wand on the entire lot then and there and give it a good long soak. Just in case the ants were thinking we might be going away and leaving them to their ant-like activities (which involves who knows what). And here's how it looked after we did that:
Then I went and gazed at all my roses, which are looking quite spectacular right about now. They were the perfect balm after all those ants. This is my Crown Princess Margarita. At Mother's Day this rose was but a shrub of stumps. It didn't look very impressive at all, despite all my grand plans. Now it's covered in little budlings. It's very beautiful and I love it. I can see myself reclining grandly under it after all.