Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Politically Incorrect but Reinvigorating Gardening
By Chris Cohan
Whether you are a fan or foe of the 1944 hit song’s lyrics, it is truly cold outside this time of year. Your plants know it and they are not going anywhere.
We should agree it is time to stop denuding our gardens and grounds. The shame of it all. Those poor innocent plants — baring their everything to the world. Brrr, they have no insulation against the vagaries of winter. Shocked, starved for nutrients, left gasping for water, many wither due to our disregard for their health.
How’s this for a New Year’s resolution: Let’s make gardens great again, or at least better.
Start by stopping those OCD leaf blowers from eviscerating anything and everything loose, friable, and organic in garden beds. Stripping them down to dare I say, bare soil. I mean, why remove The Mother, the essence, the active, dynamic, life-giving layer. This is the breeding ground for so many organisms that improve soil quality. Go ahead and remove many leaves but leave a modest layer on garden beds. This stuff is the key to good garden growth.
Okay, the reality is your gardens and turf have already been blown spick and span. Your windowsills and cars have a layer of dust to prove it. The free-floating particulate matter in the air causes many to have allergy attacks while increasing rates of asthma and bronchitis in others. All in the name of pristine planting beds.
It is time to pause and laugh at the silly circle of it all. Now, you must add mulch, fertilizer, and compost back. Eureka, the upside of this comic tragedy is you have an excuse or a moral imperative to absolve yourself of your past plant indiscretion to create a compost pile; it will reinvigorate your grounds. Feed the soil and your plants will thrive.
Don’t overthink it. Grab a shovel, find a garden corner, and excavate a space down six inches. Add loads of leaves up to one-foot high and cast a layer of the excavated soil on top. Add another foot of leaves and cast rest of excavated soil on top. Before you know it, that pile will be flattened due to the magic of aerobic decomposition. Feel free to add kitchen waste, a light casting of more soil on top, and, if you have the energy, occasionally turn.
Imagine if everyone kept their leaves and grass clipping. Municipal staff could redeploy their time to other civic improvements like planting more trees. Many, many more trees!
You saved time and money by not having to buy packaged fertilizer, you reduced your carbon footprint, diminished pressure on landfills and did your part to help the environment. What a mitzvah. We should all engage in more such efforts. I mean what the heck are we all about anyway?
Once we agree to make 2019 better then we can debate lyrics from the comfort of our warm homes knowing that …Baby, it may be cold outside, but now we know our plants are protected.