I've been slowly tidying up and putting the garden to bed over the last few weeks. I struggled with whether or not to start a fall bed of greens and decided to let it go. We have a wonderful winter CSA that keeps us eating fresh veggies through the end of December, and I could use the break. Next year I hope to build a few cold frames for early & late season growing….. but this year I am ready to hang up the gardening hat. Like most first years, I learned a lot. This fall will have us moving the raspberries, blackberries, grapes, and apple trees who are too shaded in the first spots I chose for them. Spring sun is tricky and the leaf cover was much bigger than I expected. The squash patch proved to be a long finicky haul for the hose and so it will get moved much closer, to the compost pile where the accidental (or volunteers as my friend calls them) squash from our CSA seeds grew much better with much less tending. About 18 beautiful squash came from that pile…. a good start for our winter pantry. Next year I will plant less lettuce. More beans. More herbs, the Fedco tree catalog arrived and I've got my heart set on several perennial medicinal herbs, elderberry trees, and rhubarb. I'm slowly peeking at library books for my annual fireplace reading session of garden books. So far these have made the list : Backyard Winter Garden, The Resilient Farm & Homestead, Carrots Love Tomatoes, and The Thinking Beekeeper.
I fell in love with those Inca Marigolds you see pictured. Such big lovely happy flowers. I've been feeding them to the chickens, they have medicinal properties and encourage bright orange yolks. I've been sprinkling them in nesting boxes too, hoping to discourage any bugs and keep things smelling nice. I've read that they can be used in teas and salves, so I've been drying a few (along with the Calendula) every few days for winter herb projects. Of course I'll add some to the chicken's feed in the winter too. Or perhaps sprinkle some into a popcorn treat sometime in January when they have about had it with snow and cold. Oh yes, and savings seeds from both….
The last of the cherry tomatoes have been picked and a good lot of them have made it into the dehydrator. Yes, I bought one. I'm so glad I did too. We've dried peaches, apples, pears, herbs, tomatoes, sage bundles, marigold petals. Putting up the harvest just got a whole new category….
I find myself trying to firmly plant my feet into this earth…. here. Sometimes it's hard. This tour is just four years. It may not be long enough to enjoy an apple from the trees we planted or harvest elderberries. But it will be long enough to learn to care for them and perhaps pay it forward to whoever calls this place home next…. and in the meantime I remind myself there is nothing I would rather be doing than tidying up a fall garden. Dreaming of the next just one year at a time. Collecting the last of the tomatoes in the late summer sunshine……