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“The Cautious Gardener” – Keep the mocha in your latte

March 20, 2009 - Amy Jo Hanna-Eckenrode
Spring has officially arrived - even as snow flurries fly here in central PA - I know most everyone I talk to is more than ready for warm weather. People are chomping at the bits to get outside and ‘blow some stink off’ (as my parents used to say). Any excuse to get outdoors and enjoy the warmth of the sun is used even if its to work - in the yard, around the house, car, etc.

Some people have already starting preparing flower and garden beds. If you’re in the warmer, sunshine states you’re probably already watching buds blossom and new plants find their way through the topsoil.

Here in PA, we have been able to use our scattered warm days to clear winter beds, prune rose and other bushes, prep gardens and beds with fertilizer and weed killer, etc. We can’t quite plant yet but the time will come quicker than we realize and we’ll be rushing to get our seasonal crops in the ground.

If you have pets you have a whole other set of gardening rules that you need to play by. Your backyard instantly becomes the vast, unexplored Serengeti full of new things to smell, explore, taste and/or eat. Depending on how ‘nosy’ your fur-babies are, you must portray the role of “Cautious Gardener”.

I no longer will use manufactured pesticides or weed killers. To me I’d rather have to pull weeds by hand than worry about Mazey sticking her snout in something that could harm her or walking through weed killer then licking her paws.

Once all the hard work is done, nothing sets off your architectural masterpieces more than a deep, rich coat of mulch. I was intrigued to learn of a cocoa mulch product that has been on the market for at least six years now. It is actually produced by Hershey and does contain cocoa beans which create the intoxicating aroma of what some say smells just like a chocolate pop tart. Can you imagine? I’d probably wallow in a pile and try to sniff it until I lost consciousness or until my neighbors starting staring and talking. (more so than they do now…) 

However, this particular cocoa mulch is no laughing matter when it comes to dogs and cats. Even though Hershey states that consumption can be fatal yet only 98% of dogs/cats will try to eat it, I can guarantee that I would know those 2% that would. Chances are you do too and you may own a couple of these mulch-eating monsters. As tempting as it may be to fill your yard with the sweet smell of chocolate, I’d urge you to avoid this cocoa mulch if you have fur-babies.

You can read more about the product and how much actual cocoa it contains.

Remember cocoa/chocolate can be toxic - fatal to a dog.
Even though people have reported that their cats also try to eat the sweet smelling mulch, cats usually  prefer other tastes (salty, sour or bitter) rather than sweet - its they way their taste buds are formed.

So, relish your moments in the sun and enjoy your chocolate in your frappuccino.

Happy Gardening!


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