Last summer I started noticing that I’d get smacked in the face by the smell of chocolate whenever I stepped outside my apartment on a hot day. It took me weeks to figure out the source of the scent, which is reminiscent of a freshly toasted chocolate fudge Pop-Tart. Then one day I saw a large bag of rich, brown mulch sitting in the yard. I was too far away to catch a whiff of Blommer, the River West chocolate factory that often bathes the Loop’s northwestern quadrant in its sweet bouquet, but my landlord had found a way to bring that intoxicating aroma right to our own backyard: a mulch Blommer makes from discarded cocoa-bean shells. It’s cheap, eco-friendly, admits water so it drains and doesn’t get soggy—and when the sun hits your garden, it smells absolutely delicious.
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