Chocolate and Roses

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“Sweet Drift” enjoys cocoa hull mulch.

When you think of chocolate and roses, Valentine’s Day may come to mind, but did you know there is mulch that smells like chocolate? Cocoa hull mulch or cocoa shell mulch is simply the shell of the roasted cocoa bean. This economical, organic, and dark colored mulch is readily available at many nurseries in the area or online and boasts a divine smell as well as other benefits to your garden. Some benefits to this aromatic mulch is it improves the soil since it has a pH of  5.8 and puts nitrogen back into the soil, whereas rapidly decaying organic mulches reduce nitrogen level. It also helps retains moisture and cocoa hull mulch helps prevents weeds as it interlocks together when wet creating a nice barrier. In addition, it helps repel slugs, snails, termites, and some bugs.Another benefit is cocoa shell mulch gets darker as it ages not lighter like most mulches.

A word of caution though if you have small children or pets, cocoa shell mulch can cause physical illness or death if consumed in large quantities, but most animals would not be attracted to it in the first place. Nevertheless, something to consider. Another factor to be aware of when considering this mulch is a harmless mold can grow on it if over-watered or when in very humid conditions with not much air circulation. A simple solution of vinegar mixed with some water will resolve this issue though.

Personally, because of it’s smell, textures, natural resource, and benefits to my roses, I am a big fan of cocoa hull mulch! It seems everyday is Valentine’s in my garden!

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The Irony

Eden Rose

Eden {photo credit: unknown}

Upon waking up this morning, my heart nearly stopped when looking at my phone to see snow in this weekend’s forecast. The irony of snow falling on the first day of the much anticipated warmth of Spring. Ordinarily, such a surprise winter attack would not be cause of panic, but when one considers I just planted the newly arrived and leafed out Eden rose a few days prior, my heart sank. Not to mention, freezing temperatures were not in the forecast. Even the forsythia are blooming as well as Japanese Magnolia trees (also known as Tulip Trees) and Eastern Red Bud Trees. With such promising signs the welcomed warmth of Spring was seemingly here to stay, I proceeded in clearing my rose beds and pruning my beloved rose babies just last week.

Naturally, prior to even completing a full cup of coffee, I was on the phone with my local nursery getting critical feedback on how to protect my newest addition, Eden. Upon receiving such advice, I also called Heirloom Roses, where I ordered Eden from, to get a second opinion. Both retailers suggested I apply mulch around the base of the plant then cover the hopeful bush with a 5 gallon bucket and blanket of sorts using a brick to secure it. Fair enough.

While driving to the nursery to purchase mulch for our emergency rose rescue operation, my husband gently, but adamantly declared we will most ardently not be purchasing any more roses in this trip or ever as our yard is small yet full of roses (plus I do believe he is tired of breaking ground). I calmly assured him not to worry. After all, unbeknownst to him, I already inquired on the local nursery’s rose inventory and was informed all they had right now was a few bare roots and left over Knock Outs. Naturally, I had every intention of still browsing their selection as well as all the other garden candy they had to offer. Ironically and much to my surprise, upon walking up to the few bare roots they had on display, my adamant “no more roses” husband immediately fell in love with Angel Face, a lavender purple color rose and promptly suggested we get it (we can plant the bare root rose once this cold snap passes).

Angel Face

Angel Face (photo credit: Pinterest)

Consequently, I about fell over… Then again, I did pull him close and hugged him before entering “the danger zone” of the nursery (aka where they keep the roses). Ha! Although I did not knowingly intend to manipulate, I discovered bodily contact within the nursery limits was certainly a good way to get more roses should he ever attempt to intervene in my apparent rose addiction again.

With all that said, I’m hoping, of course, the up and coming snow fall turns out to be a bust, but am thankful regardless for it provided me an unexpected rose and a productive day of weeding and mulching! The irony!

(Update: Thankfully, the weather experts were wrong. It didn’t snow nor even rained. But Jesus cares about roses and still answers prayers!) 😄