Preparing for fall

All of a sudden the days seem short and the nights cold. The garden list, ignored for a few weeks, has continued to lengthen and is now pressing.

In these next, early October days, we need to clean the dead plants from the vegetable beds. To one bed I will add nutrients, and then transplant strawberries (in my own rotational system). The spinach, lettuce and arugula I planted a few weeks ago, to see us into winter, have been plundered. I suspect slugs and bunnies (not the chicken bunny I am sure). Some other creature has burrowed a deep tunnel through the bed, which would undermine the roots if there were any to speak of. I did purchase some new lettuce seed at the Common Ground Fair, and although it is a bit late in the season, I am going to plant it. Perhaps with a row cover it might produce some lettuce in November. The spinach I hope will grow enough to over-winter. We have had some success with this in the past, and it is a treat to get a crop of healthy, leafy green spinach shortly after the snow disappears.

We also need to weed and feed the asparagus and blueberries. And harvest the winter vegetables: butternut, Marina di Chioggia,

Marina di Chioggia
Marina di Chioggia

carrots, celeriac, and that gigantic kohlrabi we still haven’t tried. We will leave the parsnips in until after the first frost, which will make them sweeter.

That’s just the vegetable garden accounted for. The flowers need cutting back and some perennials need to be divided and moved. I will dig up a rosemary plant to pot and bring inside for winter use. The sage will be cut and dried. In the past I have tried to pot a thyme plant,  but for some reason it always attracts white flies inside (never out). So instead I might try to dry some. I waited too long on the tarragon and the plants have already faded.

The dahlias, given to us by our wonderful mailman George, are just now blooming—a lovely array of color. We can enjoy them until the frost kills them off, and then dig them up to store for next year.

The list is daunting, and it is just one of many lists. There is no glamour in fall clean-up. Spring is new, fresh and full of possibility. For all summer’s work, it is rewarding because you are surrounded by the bounty your efforts have produced. But by fall you are tired…done with the garden, with cooking up countless pounds of vegetables. Ready to retreat indoors, where the workload is reduced in scope (if not necessarily in volume). Until the seed catalogs arrive. And the planning, and anticipation, begins anew!


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