Monday, 15 December 2008

the mosaic

So we have this mosaic. To be honest, it's not my favourite thing in the world, but it does give the garden character. A woggy character, but character nonetheless. For my American friends, "wog" generally refers to a Greek, Italian, or Lebanese Australian. It's actually a bit of a bad word, depending on the context. But it's pretty safe to say my garden is woggy, between the fig tree, cumquats, and giant mosaic. All it needs is a statue and an olive tree to complete the picture.

On either side of the mosaic are little pencil pines, and at the front they'd planted some daffodils but they didn't do so well - not sunny enough early in the spring. So I decided to take advantage of the strip to plant some meditteranean herbs: sage and prostrate rosemary. Something low-growing enough that it wouldn't block the mosaic.

I had actually planted the sage in the middle and was digging a hole for the rosemary when I discovered it ... the Dreaded Black Plastic. It's all over the place in this garden.

Now there's a difference between black plastic and weed mat. Weed mat is generally made from water-permeable fabric and is meant to keep weeds from growing through your mulch. But that means it also keeps your mulch from decomposing into the soil. A lot of people still use it for the convenience factor, though a lot of passionate gardeners hate the stuff, especially if you're trying to be eco-friendly.

But it's still not as bad as black plastic, which not only keeps the mulch from biodegrading, it also stops most of the water from seeping through and tends to "kill" the soil beneath it. A lot of people used it in their gardens, meaning well, but what tends to happen is that over the years the mulch and dirt and things breaks down ABOVE the plastic, weeds grow in that new soil, and the soil below the plastic is still fairly dead ... which was the case here.

So instead of quickly planting a few herbs, I spent almost an hour digging black plastic out from under 6 inches of soil and mulch, covering myself with dirt. Eventually I had to cut it, leaving a fair bit behind the mosaic (but heck, nothing's growing there anyway). Lucky for me the sage didn't mind being pulled up and re-planted!

And here at last is the fruit of my labour. They've both taken to their new home and are growing well, they're about twice the size of this photo and I've used both in cooking.

In fact, they even stood up to a pretty terrible hail storm a few weeks ago, where they were buried under hail for a few hours! I leave you with a photo from that hail storm.