Monthly Archives: October 2020

Terrifying Plants for the Haunting Season

When we think about plants, we usually think about beautiful blossoms that bring pops of color and joy into our yard and life—not scary carnivores that are better suited to horror movies. However, in the spirit of the haunting season, let’s take a look at some of the more insidious plants from around the world. Some might even make great additions to your yard or even your home just in time for Halloween (if you dare).

The Cuscuta, also known as the Strangle Tare, looks quite a bit like a tumbleweed and is actually perfectly safe for humans. However, in the world of plants, it’s akin to a ghost. It sucks the life out of host plants, literally, becomes detached from its roots, and turns into a complete parasite. It does best in hot climates, and with only four species “living” in northern Europe, there’s a good chance this ghost plant won’t ever cross your path.

Pretty on the Outside

The Utricularia, or Bladderwort, is like the Venus Flytrap’s more evil twin. The flowers of this plant act a lot like a Venus Flytrap, catching and eating whatever comes inside. However, their “maws” are much bigger and snap close. Bladderworts exclusively thrive in water, so you won’t find them on land—but keep an eye out for the bright yellow flowers next time you go swimming.

There’s also the Dering Wood, also known as the Screaming Wood. Aptly named, you’ll find it in a haunted village in Kent, England. These trees look perfectly normal, but it’s said that anywhere up to 16 (former human) ghosts live in between them. This area is a hub for supernatural activity and ghost hunters from around the world flock here. 

Scariest Plants in the World

The Armillaria Solidipes, also known as the Humongous Fungus, spread across the American underground in Malheur National Forest thousands of years ago. And it keeps growing. It’s a mushroom said to be anywhere from 1,900 – 8,650 years old and takes up 3.7 square miles. Head to Oregon’s forest and just imagine the enormous shroom inching along beneath your feet.

Anyone who’s seen the Actaea Pachypoda knows why it got the nickname Doll’s Eye. The creepy white berries look just like eyes mounted on blood-red stems.  You’ll find them in the woods of the U.S. and Canada, and they don’t just stalk you through your forest hike but they’re also highly toxic to humans. Eat even a small amount and you’re likely to suffer cardiac arrest.

Creepy Crawlies

The Hydnellum Peckii is better known as the Bleeding Tooth Fungus. It’s also a mushroom, but unlike any you’ve encountered before. It oozes (or bleeds) a red, gooey substance from its pores non-stop. Finally, you can’t overlook the Corpse Flower, which boasts the biggest flower in the world. It also smells just like rotten flesh. The goal is to attract carnivores and it even looks like rotting flesh in order to draw more hungry hunters near.

Whether you want to take care of your terrifying plant or want more information on not such horrific options, contact The Dirt Bag today for all your hauntingly beautiful gardening needs.

Using Leaves for Mulch

Fall Leaves for Mulch
Fall Leaves for Mulch

Fall is in the air and with it comes new seasonal tasks, such as raking up leaves and collecting fallen fruit from the summer harvest. Leaves can be a fantastic form of mulch, but it’s not quite as easy as simply letting them sit where they fall. A lot of people think of raking leaves as a chore and a nuisance, but in reality, dead leaves are a fantastic mulch source. Fallen leaves are readily available, free, and renewable making them absolute “garden gold.” 

Mulch, by definition, is a suitable material put on top of soil to help maximize its environment. Mulch is also often thought of as a landscaping detail to add beauty to your yard. There are all kinds of mulch, with high-quality mulch available from trusted sources like The Dirt Bag. Mulch can be made up of a variety of things, but leaf mulch is exactly what it sounds like—no added ingredients here. As leaves decompose, it enhances the fertility of the soil and optimizes organic content. Leaves decompose quickly, so you don’t have to wait long for the benefits.

What to Know About Leaf Mulch

Many avid gardeners spend plenty of time (and money!) amending their soil, and leaf mulch can be a free way to speed up this process. When you use what nature has already given you for soil additives, you’re already a step ahead. Leaf mulch can renew plants, but there is truth to the idea of too much of a good thing. Leaf mulch in a layer no more than one inch thick on targeted soil can moderate soil temperatures as we prep for the winter months. This protects the plants and minimizes your need for additional fertilizing at the moment. 

Leaves are also great at keeping weeds in check so you won’t need to spend as much time weeding. Soil erosion can also be reduced with proper use of leaf mulch. However, all of these benefits require more than simply transferring leaves from beneath the trees to your targeted soil. The best way to use leaf mulch is to shred it, usually by allowing the leaves to dry first. Dried leaves can be ran over with a lawnmower for easy shredding. Leaves that are dry tend to break down quicker and are easier to shed, but wet leaves are also beneficial to the soil (albeit tougher to work with).

Working with Leaves

When working with dry leaves, spread them 3 – 4 inches away from shrubs and trees and 2 – 3 inches away from perennial beds. They can be used as insulation for roses as long as you remove them before spring growth begins. Add leaf litter to veggie beds to instill nutrients to the soil, prioritizing smaller shreds when possible. 

Alternatively, you can also use leaves and fallen fruits as compost. Simply place these items in a pile that will occasionally get wet. This pile should be left alone for two years before it becomes fantastic compost for flower beds. Ready for more tips on autumn composting and mulching? Get in touch with The Dirt Bag today!