Free Garden Help

This post, “Free Garden Help” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana  

It’s amazing that creatures we never want in our homes are more than welcome in our gardens.  When I first started installing garden beds around our property, I was only concerned with plants.  I did not realize then, that nature is not just plants.  It was not too very long before I noticed my first baby anole.  It was then that I realized that my garden was lacking creatures.  No spiders, no anoles, no bees – just plants.  I figured that they just had not discovered the new garden yet.  To get to it they would have had to cross open lawn. 

Gradually, the little critters found the garden.  Bees, spiders, and anoles found refuge there.  Praying mantises and ladybugs also showed up along with slug-eating beetles.  These beneficial insects and reptiles keep the baddies at bay. 

One of the benefits of a wild life friendly garden is that it discourages pests.  I do not spray pesticides because I don’t like the chemical idea, but also because I don’t need too.  There must be a large hidden army of predatory insects and reptiles around. Because I really have been able to attract the predators of so many common garden pests, I have had very little problems in that department which saves me time and money.  Bugs and reptiles work for free.  Mother Nature really has helped me keep my plants healthy and bug free.



Cypress Mulch

This post, “Cypress Mulch” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


Today I received a comment about cypress mulch, specifically about not using it.  Being from South Louisiana, I have known for some time about the problems with using cypress mulch.


With the slogan “Why kill a tree to grow a flower”, there are several groups trying to educate people to let them know that the cypress mulch that is sold today is not termite-resistant, and degrades the cypress wetlands which in turn worsens coastal erosion.  Thousands of acres of cypress are harvested just to produce mulch.  Very little is replanted and even if it is replanted most of the seedlings do not survive the first year.


These grand trees can live to be 1500 years old and be 150 feet tall and 25 feet in girth.  They are home to many birds and mammals.  Check out this site from Florida’s Suncoast Native Plant Society.  This site also tells about how cypress mulch  appears to have a high water-retention ability which may reduce the amount of moisture available to plants.


This site from the National Wildlife Federation explains how the cutting of cypress trees is destroying the Gulf Coast’s coastline and doing more damage which makes us even more vulnerable to hurricanes like Katrina, not to mention the devastation to wildlife (60% of all US bird species pass through the swampy forests of the Gulf Coast). 


Both of these sites give alternatives for mulch for gardeners to use instead of Cypress.


This is a very serious issue.  Florida has been trying to educate people for years and now other states and organizations have joined the effort.  Wal-mart and Lowes have even agreed not to sell cypress mulch.  For more information, check out these two sites:

 I believe that the statement by Bana Malik in his comment is true that “Our gardeners hold the key. We believe that gardeners must know the truth about cypress mulch, and will stop using cypress mulch when presented with the facts.”  So please think twice before using cypress mulch.

A Little Garden Work

This post, “A Little Garden Work” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

I was feeling a little under the weather today, so consequently, I did not do too much in the garden.  I mostly did some maintenance work.  That meant cutting back some more of the lirope and cleaning up the edges on about forty feet of the entry garden.  While working on those beds, I noticed the amaryllis buds are poking up.  It won’t be too long before they are blooming, esp. if we keep getting these warm days.  Today the high temperature was 70.  I also saw the first vinca minor flower of the year.


After working on the entry garden, I started spreading the compost that I started in the fall.  I am lucky that the oak trees on our property dropped most of their leaves in the fall.  Now, it has turned into leaf mold and should really help enrich the soil.  I have two compost piles going at all times because of all the yard and kitchen wastes.  I mainly use compost as side dressing in the fall and spring.  I put some on the roses, amaryllis, hydrangea, toad lilies, and agapanthus.  I still have more to spread out, but I just wasn’t feeling up to it.  So, after work this week I hope to be able to do that.  The days are getting longer, and that should allow me time to do some more clean up chores.  There isn’t a whole lot of things left to do.  Soon I’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the spring garden.

Recycling Christmas Tree

This post, “Recycling Christmas Tree” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

This year when we took down our Christmas tree we recycled it.  Here they use the trees to build up our coastline.  They take the trees and place them in fenced areas along the coastal marshes.  This protects our coastline from salt water intrusion (which will kill the grasses that anchor the soil) and increases sedimentation (which builds land for the grasses).  Recycled trees provide a wave break for the marshes and also improve water clarity, while also providing a reef environment for wildlife.

Louisiana started this program because we were losing 25-35 square miles of marsh every year with extra damage done by hurricanes, esp. Katrina.  Louisiana alone accounts for about 80% of the nation’s wetland loss each year.  The Christmas tree recycling program has worked to stabilize soil and shorelines.  This has been a successful soil erosion control, but there is still a lot to be done.

 If you are interested in this, here is a site that explains this important process with pictures: 

I compost all garden clippings and leaves.  I also rake up and use the pine straw for mulch.  So recycling our Christmas tree is just another way to help the environment.