Saturday, June 8, 2024

What to do with all those dried poppies

A few days ago I noticed a bunch of dried poppy plants in a neighbor's yard. We were already using our dried poppies for mulch since most of our woodchip and horse purslane mulch had broken down into soil or was taken away by some productive ants. We love to keep as much organic matter as we can in our basin. This time of year it helps to protect the soil from the harsh sun. And the birds and native bees appreciate it too. Also notice the dried native grasses that we keep for food for birds and bunnies. 

So the next day I ambled up to the front door and asked if I could grab their dead poppies to use for mulch in our basin. I had a nice chat with our new neighbor. I found out that she had been leaving them there for the birds, but thought that some other neighbors didn't appreciate it, so they were planning on doing some yard work on Saturday. She said I was welcome to take them before then. So I was out this morning at 7 a.m. (before it got crazy hot) gathering dried poppies. After the first load I put on my straw shade hat and got a drink of water. I was quiet as a mouse so I wouldn't disturb them. Well...until I sat down on a rock covered with ants! But I dusted the ants off and went back to work.  I gathered six plastic buckets full! And pulled some other weeds for them for good measure. I made sure not to include any foxtail seeds in my buckets. 

I broke the poppy stems into smaller pieces and spread them in our basin.

When I got back to my computer I noticed that there was a warning of strong wind today at 2! Doh! My timing! I didn't want them to fly away in the wind so I wet them down to make them heavier. (I figured it would be good for the soil underneath anyway.) 

I hope that will keep them from flying away in the wind. But if you see few straw-like stems in your yard, consider leaving them. It's good for the soil. Your plants will appreciate it.

While I was out there, I went ahead and put some more water out for the critters. It's hot out there! 

After seeing a baby bunny in our yard yesterday, I put this watering bowl in the ground
by the Habitat at Home sign. 


Helpful Hint: You can also put dried poppies in your compost pile or use them as mulch in your garden.

More information:

The life cycle of a Mexican poppy

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