We did not have central air and heat growing up in Lebanon, but we didn’t need it!

The temperate climate gifted us with cooling summer breezes from the sea or from the still snow capped mountains. In the winter, we relied on portable butagas heaters that could be rolled around from room to room. And we dressed according to the seasons which meant layering in the winter. On cold nights, we slept under piles of wool blankets anchored by either feather comforters or my grandmother’s homemade quilts.

That’s exactly how we should protect our gardens in the winter, with heavy blanket layers of homemade compost and atleast 1-2 inches of mulch. Don’t bother spending money on bags of treated with insecticide commercial mulch. Rather, invest in a good wheelbarrow and go up and down your street shoveling leaves stuck in piles near the gutters or even better, those leaves that have been run over several times by passing cars! I also got a pile of free shredded bark and leaves this month from some workers trimming and shredding branches from a huge tree across the street. I approached them with a plate of freshly made chocolate chip cookies and asked, “what will happen to this truckload of shredded bark?”

They answered, “we’ll take it to the city dump!”

I politely requested, “would you mind dumping it in my side yard instead?”

“Sure m’am!”

I was thrilled! Lesson learned; it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Your locally sourced mulch full of good insects will add to the biodiversity of your soil and be a good habitat for winter critters seeking shelter. Pretend your plants are like you were as a child, in need of extra food and shelter during the winter months!

Can you give your garden extra protection and TLC this winter?

The unmulched garden looks to me like some naked thing which for one reason or another would be better off with a few clothes on!

Ruth Stout

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