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One of my favorite things to do in February is to snuggle up in a warm blanket with my back to the sun on a cloudless cold day and read a book or write in my spirals. I’ll move my chair around to make sure I absorb as much warmth as possible as the sun arches across my back porch. All is cozy until the infamous Northers blow and I am startled out of my revery and clamor to seek some kind of barrier from the sudden bitting wind.

The same is true of a garden. A warm blanket of mulch is needed to protect root systems from the occasional Texas hard freeze. With the frigid northers, comes torrents of rain and hail, so mulch also protects from soil erosion. A covering of mulch incubates the seeds that have dropped from matured plant seed heads that drop their seeds waiting for the next season to sprout again. In addition, as it decomposes, natural organic mulch adds extra nutrients to depleted tired dirt.  

At this time of year, I never spend money on mulch. Instead, I gather the leaves that have fallen in my own yard and pile them in the flower beds, in the raised vegetable beds, and in the compost bins. However, my favorite mulch is absconded from the gutters and edges of my neighborhood streets where the leaves have collected and been run over several times by passing cars. I grab my trusty wheelbarrow and flat edge shovel and go at it

Recently, I swept the vibrantly colored Japanese Maple leaves off of my back porch and added them to their existing brothers and sisters that had already fallen from their branches amongst the decorative variegated grasses! As evidenced in this picture, natural homegrown mulch is not only cheap but quite strikingly beautiful as well.

Have you cozied up to your garden yet?

February Garden Checklist

Move or divide root balls of perennials

Thin out and divide spring bulbs like daylily and canna

Eliminate any weeds in existing beds

Cover soil with 2-3 inches of mulch

Remove old, dead perennial growth

Prune roses back 2/3 of their desired size