Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Saignon garden may 23rd-July 19th 2015

 The picture above is of a community garden in Saignon on the day after we arrived. The one below is a few days before we left. There were whole crops that had been picked. The soil is very fertile and there are endless, long, hot, sunny days. There do not seem to be many bugs so upkeep is mainly watering and weeding.

A curiosity that I have not figured out. This is a very dry climate. Humidity rarely gets above 30%. There is not a lot of rain from May to August (Two days in the 60 days we were there). The soil dries out very quickly. I have never seen mulch in a garden here, nor for sale in a store. Is there a reason? I use it here in humid (80-90%) Florida, where we get frequent thundershowers, and it works a charm. We have sandy soil but I don't think the soil there is very clay based. It's a mystery. Mulch is magic.


  1. Of course you can buy some not stinking mulch but it's more expensive.

  2. What do you use for mulch? Over here the mulch we get is ground up cypress, which actually smells nice and breaks down to enrich the soil. Another choice is pice bark nuggets which don't break down as fast and have no odor. The cypress also repels insects for a while. Are you thinking of compost?

    1. The cypress mulch is the expensive one ... let me google ...

    2. Okay, the usual stinking mulch my neighbours use doesn't say what it's made out of. It's 0,05 € / Liter. The not so stinking mulch is pine mulch, it's 0,22 €* / Liter.
      And no, I am not thinking of compost ;-)

    3. Annual precipitation is 613mm in Mainz (Vaucluse is 700mm) so there is a lot of stinking mulching going on here ... *shudder*.

    4. perhaps in Provence mulch is a fire hazard?

  3. Okay, I tried to enter a reply from Google+ and they never took, twice. So here goes a third try. Cypress mulch sells for $1.29 for a 3 cubic foot bag at my local garden supply. That is a big bag and covered a lot of ground, so price is nt a big issue. You buy your mulch by the liter? What an odd sized little bag that must be.

    It is not a fire hazard as far as I know. I gets wet and retains water very efficiently. It also allows almost no evaporation from the ground.

    You can get more expensive mulch than the two I use. There is cocoa bark mulch made from the outside of the cocoa beans they make chocolate. It is dark brown, if you like that as your ground color. The problem is that it's expensive, your yard smells of chocolate for three weeks and it breaks down quickly. The chocolate smell attracts many little children:-)

    You get even less rain than the Vaucluse? I thought Germany was rainier than that. That isn't much compared to here. We can have a month where we get that much. We get 1320mm a year, roughly double. But.....our soil is 90% sand so it leeches down very quickly and evaporates up....without mulch.

    The soil in the Luberon, or at least where the garden in the picture is, is not heavy at all. When we have a long dry spell it dries out quickly and the surface starts to blow away. Thus my question. We had very heavy soil in Vermont and we mulched there. I can only guess that it's tradition or habit.

    I notice that in vineyards they are, more and more, letting a heavy weed cover grow between the rows. Weeds are actually good because they send roots very deep, opening up fissures for grape roots to follow. And the weed plant prevents evaporation, Learned from Janie's cousins who have an organic, dry farmed winery in Sonoma, CA
    It's called Benziger Family Winery and they make lovely wines.

    1. I am still going with my fire hazard theory .. imagine .. all these dry and light bark pieces ... mistral ... it doesn't get wet since there is not much rain ...
      Hm, I like the cocoa idea ... I think I would buy these ;-)j

      The usual bag is 60 l - no idea how much you need for how many square metres ... I don't buy mulch, you know, it stinks .. ;-)

      Mainz is semi-arid - Germany is big (okay, in our measurements, lol) with many different regions. But because the ground water level is high in the Rhine valley and the termperatures are much lower than in Provence for example, it's a different thing Soil is different of course, too.
      But yes, people use the stinky mulch because of the dryness.
      I have to admit mulch only stinks in the first hours .. it's a sour stomach turning odour. I am not kidding. Thankfully it vanishes after a day.
      So much about mulch today. ;-) I'll look for the Benziger Winery now :-)

    2. Ha, a friend knows the winery, by name at least. I told him to visit next time he is in CA. ;-)



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