Mulch Madness

I’m doing my Menards mulch runs this week.  I like to go early in the morning (think 6:30 a.m.), before it’s too busy; that way I don’t have to fight anybody over a big flatbed cart.  I can only fit 6-8 bags in my little car (depending on how badly I want to see out the back window) but 6-8 bags definitely needs a flatbed cart!

As I was loading up the car on Tuesday, it occurred to me that I don’t come by my love of gardening naturally.  Nonny likes her garden neat and orderly but there were never any carloads of mulch or flats of annuals.  For a few years, we had a small vegetable garden but it was pretty much only tomatoes – although I do remember one year with corn but not sure if we actually got any corn off the stalks. 

Nonny didn’t enlist either my sister or me to help in the garden or even harvest anything.  Cutting the grass on the riding mower was the extent of my yard work growing up; this was only in high school as we never had a big enough yard for a riding mower until then. 

In my first house here in Minneapolis I didn’t do much yardwork – the house has evergreen bushes in front and they didn’t require much.  Wasband cut the postage-stamp sized yard.  I did do a vegetable garden a couple of times but we had slug issues and Irish Setter-stomping-all-over-the-plants issues.  I’m not sure what clicked in my brain when I moved to my current home.  The more flowers/less grass plan was hatched fairly early on and the hanging pots and mulch madness followed pretty quickly after that. 

My straw bale gardening got going about a dozen years back after reading Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook.  I won’t bore you with this again since I know I’ve already talked about it (probably repeatedly), but straw bales have brought my gardening full circle (or so it feels to me).

Not sure how the gardening got into my blood, but this week as I start to prepare my bales and do my mulch runs, I’m feeling happier than I have for a few weeks as winter has dragged on.  Maybe spring really is coming.

Do any or your hobbies or passions surprise you?

34 thoughts on “Mulch Madness”

  1. Why would my choice of pastimes surprise me? I will say that I didn’t inherit any of them from my parents. In fact, it’s difficult to identify exactly what my parents hobbies/passions were because they were generally nonspecific. When I was very young, my father got together with neighborhood friends for poker once a week. My mother did the same for bridge. My father hunted seasonally and took occasional fishing trips. On weekends he sometimes golfed. My mother sewed, tended a few flowers, and read the occasional gothic novel. She liked to sunbathe.
    When I was about ten, they bought a piece of lake property because in the 1950s that was still possible for persons of moderate means. Eventually they built a cabin and I guess that became their hobby.

    When Robin and I first married, everyone we knew wanted to move to the country and perhaps become farmers or to join a commune of would-be farmers. We tried that, briefly, when we moved to Isanti, but we were still working in the city and the commute was too much. On our rented property there I established a sizable garden. Subsequently, every place we rented or owned we built a vegetable garden. The raised beds we have now are the smallest garden space we’ve had.

    Working alongside my father, I learned some of the basics of home maintenance but that is a practical necessity and not a hobby. I haven’t golfed in this century. I don’t play poker and only rarely do I play any other games. I haven’t hunted for 45 years or fished for probably 25.

    Everything I’ve taken on as an interest—drawing, painting, extensive reading and research, book repair, sewing, photography, writing, my collections, and of course gardening have been interests that originated with me. But I’m not surprised.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Bill – I may have brought this up before, but can’t remember. When did you live in Isanti? That’s my hometown – left for college in 1970, spent three summers there until moving to the Cities permanently in 1974.

      Since I live in a condo, my only garden is potted plants on the deck. My sister is working on converting most of her lawn into
      garden/landscaping. She does the planning and planting while I help out with maintenance (mainly weeding the gardens and pulling Creeping Charlie). I get a lot of satisfaction from making her yard look nicer.

      None of my hobbies/passions (music reading, travel, golf, etc.) surprise me except perhaps kayaking. I came to that after retiring and just love it.


      1. It was probably about 1972. We were in a little house behind the creamery, with the Hillgart’s house on one side and O. J. Miller’s house on the other. Miller’s house faced on a different street, so we were behind his house as well.


        1. I know exactly where you lived. Our house was two blocks directly south of the Lutheran church. O.J. and Jean were very good friends of my folks. Margaret Hilgart and I were classmates. Small world!

          Liked by 2 people

  2. I am most surprised by my gig helping out with this blog. I would never imagined myself doing anything like this. I think 4 H and my parents encouraged me to deepen my interests in music, gardening and cooking.

    I want to get back into doing embroidery, but now I will need some equipment to help with magnifying the fabric and help threading needles with arthritic hands.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. I agree, though I’ve been robbed of my ability to “like” anything. Good work you two, and Ben as well, for the weekly farm report. Much appreciated, all of it.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Home remodeling and woodworking came through my father of course. Carving and art came on my own. I discovered both as a child. I don’t have any relatives who do either, but then I didn’t do either well. My writitng came through my English major and teaching, but I didn’t do that well. I tried gardening but never had a good place and then not the time, a nod to my mother, who had ten green thumbs, but truth be told, I did not really like it vey much. Now i attend to the ladies who lunch, 8 of them, all who have dementia.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Now 9 of them. There are 4 men too but 3 are very difficult. The other is a new arrival. Sometimes the ladies have a good time, led by Sandy and Lola. Two can be mean girls.
        My favorite aide, the most caring, will be gone for the summer after next week to do her summer job of landscaping. Quite the young woman. Be back in the fall for her junior year of nursing on top of the hill above here.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think my family was most surprised by my fascination with crocheting, weaving, and embroidery. My mom wasn’t interested in those things at all. Was it typical for 1960s moms to have few hobbies other than bridge club, Glamour and Good Housekeeping magazines, and getting their hair done? My mom was highly motivated by the social scene in Owatonna and she expected me to be the same.

    I surprised myself with enjoying a big garden in the 1980- 90s. It’s funny how a garden can be so successful one year, then be full of weeds and soil problems the next. I love gardens and gardening, but I don’t have one anymore. I garden in containers on my deck and front steps and that’s enough for me now. I can’t bend for very long anymore without causing myself a lot of back pain.

    One habit I’ve developed in more recent years is fun for me but possibly not the best thing I could be doing. I enjoy going places, like yesterday I drove from Rochester to Winona to Red Wing and back home. It’s not the best thing for the environment, I know, but I don’t get to travel very often (when I do it’s a Very Big Deal) and that remains my excuse. It’s good to get out and see something other than my own little condo. Sometimes I will choose a destination, like the Root River Trail or a local lake, put the bike on the rack and go there for a bike ride or paddling in my kayak. I’ve always enjoyed hiking and bicycling, but kayaking is relatively new to me and I love it. The hardest thing about it is getting the kayak up onto the J-hooks on the roof of my Rav by myself. I guess that one surprises me the most. Once I tried kayaking, I just wanted to do it again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It would be very difficult for me to lift a hard shell kayak up to a rooftop carrier (am way too short) so I purchased an inflatable hybrid kayak from Advanced Elements. It has aluminum rigid ribs in the bow and stern to give it shape and stability. It takes me less than 10 minutes to inflate and assemble it. And it only weighs about 30 pounds. I leave it and my gear in the trunk all summer. It’s not as fast as a hard shell but works well for my calm lake or river paddling. Bonus: easy storage in the garage – it packs into a carry bag.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I may have to go that route in the future. I did have an inflatable one at first but I had to sit on top of it rather than down inside of it, and it was mighty unstable and difficult to maneuver. I couldn’t really get it to go anywhere. My hard shell kayak weighs about 40 pounds but it’s hard to get it up there. I bought a roller thing that attaches to the back window. I can put the kayak upright into it and roll it up. That helps a lot but it’s really hard all the same. Then I have a long process of tying and strapping it in place up there so that it’s safe. All of that has to be done twice: once prior to leaving home and once after leaving the lake. So it’s quite a deal. I’ve learned to plan ahead and load the kayak the evening before I plan to go out.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Husband and I both sold our kayaks four or five years ago. We used a trailer for hauling them, so didn’t have to lift them that far, but eventually we just couldn’t handle them, especially mine, which was the heavier of the two.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Barbara! I will try to do that if I plan ahead. Sometimes I am pretty spontaneous and I just take off. This time it was semi-planned due to going to Rochester to pick up the eggs. I was kind of being an obnoxious “flood tourist,” without being very obnoxious.


    1. Thanks, Krista. I’m sitting here in my recliner surrounded by four large helium balloons and a “gold” garland suspended in the front window that says “Congrats.” They weren’t there when we went to bed last night, but were there when I got up at 6:30 AM. Hans must have snuck down and “decorated” while I was sound asleep.

      This morning I also received a celebratory email from my sister. She reminded me that I’ve now completed 80 trips around the sun, and that if I take after my paternal grandmother who lived to be 98, I could have another 18 years in store. Am I ready for that? she asked. That’s a sobering question! Luckily, I’m not assured of any such thing. Randi’s email goes on to enumerate all the things that begin to fail at my age – if they haven’t already: hearing, eyesight, teeth, and a detailed list of the various body parts that may no longer function as they once did. Kindly she didn’t mention dementia. With a younger sister like that, you had better have a well developed sense of humor, not to mention a tough hide.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Happy 80. This life has made my life boring, not much time to do hobbies if I could, but I think handling all the details keeps my mind focused in the ways they say is good for our minds. But the other parts of me are falling apart. Add back bone and colon.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you, Linda. Today was such a wonderful reminder of how many far flung friends I have. From early morning and throughout the day, emails, phone calls, flowers, greetings on FB from all over the globe have trickled in. I had messages from Japan, Greece, Portugal, Spain, England, Italy, Denmark, Canada, Mexico, Sweden, and twenty-two US states. I received one of vs’s beautiful hand-made cards in the mail (thanks, vs), and a big box of hand-made truffles and a lovely dinner from Hans. For the next several weeks I have multiple lunch and dinners with friends to mark the occasion as well. I’ll be celebrating through the month of May.

          And now I’m off to bed. Tomorrow, it’s back to the gym!


  5. My Budgie love is a bit surprising. Up until a few years ago, I’d never had birds as pets. Things have worked out quite well. Because of my age, I won’t be getting birds of longer-lived species. Providing for The Flock’s adoption upon my death is done. All Teflon pots and pans have been disposed of. I use no fragrances and room deodorants. The Birds have very sensitive lungs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m a bit surprised by an interest in other cultures and religions – if I’d realized this early on I would have majored in cultural anthropology. It helps determine what I read, and int’l folk dance, I’ve decided, is learning culture “from the inside out”.

    Liked by 2 people

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