Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Chill is like vegetables

kw: observations, weather, temperature

I don't like it, but it is better to have it. Cold weather. As I've gotten older, I have found I have less tolerance for the cold. But I am glad to live somewhere that has a real winter, nearly every year. Over all, it is healthier.

Firstly, it stimulates me and my immune system. I find that I am more susceptible to colds in warm weather. Now that I am in my mid-sixties, I've probably had most of the cold viruses out there, both rhinovirus and adenovirus varieties, so I am immune to them. Yet I still catch a new cold every few years, and it seems to occur in the Spring or Fall.

Secondly, it eliminates pests. The worst years for mosquitoes are after mild winters. The overwintering adults can only hide under the bark or in leaf litter, so a deep enough chill will kill more of them. Any overwintering larvae (of certain varieties only) need pretty deep water to hide in, and if it freezes over wholly, they cannot breathe. The privet rust mites that plague my hedge plants hide under bark or leaf litter also. It can take a week of below 20°F weather to kill them. But I'll still spray with oil in May even if we get a hard few weeks.

Finally, the best fruit trees, apples, pears and cherries, bear better fruit after a long, hard winter, as long as the roots in the ground don't freeze. A deep-rooted apple tree can even do well after a North Dakota winter. The trick is to keep it alive for ten years until the roots get at least six feet deep! That takes a heavy layer of mulch, renewed every Spring and Fall. At this latitude, however, hardly any mulch is needed. We had a cold, snowy winter a year ago, and this year I had a very good harvest of excellent apples.

As much as I may grumble about cold weather, it is like having your vegetables, or getting exercise—better for me and better for my yard and garden.

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