Sunday, November 4, 2007

putting the garden to bed

Yesterday was marked by a sweet sadness and the reminder of a deep, coming coldness. I began the work of putting the garden to bed. I chopped down the pineapple sage and rosemary to hang to dry for the season. I tore out the withered bean vines, thai basil plants, Serrano pepper plants, tomato plants, the leftover parsley, and the banana pepper plants. I still have three cabbages to pick out of the eight I planted. And, I still have two more tomato plants to tear out. I left the Zinnias for another week or two cause they are still throwing off yellows and orange-reds that make me think of sunset in summer.

cutting back the basil

I will make another batch of sauerkraut with the remaining cabbages. My first batch turned out pretty damn good. Kk loves it and my friend R ate a whole jar. I like it a lot too, but I’ve had serious difficulty eating sauerkraut since my bout of food-poisoning from a tempeh reuben this summer. Sauerkraut, mustard, and all things pickled are some of my favorite foods, but alas the spoiled thousand island that sent me to the pot shitting and puking has left me with an obstacle to overcome.

I already put our plot at the community garden to bed a few weeks ago. We grew potatoes in our community bed and the yield was small (only about 4 potatoes per plant on a total of 9 plants). We’ve already consumed all of them!

Overall, it was a plentiful season. Our mini-roma tomato plant yielded at least 300 tomatoes. We ate off the thing all summer. The heirlooms were lacking in quantity, but the flavor of the few was worth it. The thai basil provided many a batch of zesty pesto and some yummy, gingery, basil noodle dishes. I have enough rosemary to get us through the whole winter, spring, and summer and still give some away. The green beans thrived, and I managed to incorporate them into all kinds of recipes. I’ve already gone over the cabbage, but I must highlight how awesome it is to grow and tend to cabbage, cut it down with a saw, chop out the core, shred it by hand, beat it down in a jar, add some salt, put a weight on it and then set it in the cupboard to ferment for 6 weeks. The results are amazing.

before you were sauerkraut--freshly picked from the garden

Now the brown, withered skeletons of the plants are cut back and left to decompose in the compost and lawn bags. This cutting down of things once alive marks the end to the warmth of summer.

I love all of the seasons, and autumn and winter bring a zeal for being alive to my body, but the end of the growing season also marks the coming of a coldness that persistently chills the good people of Michigan’s veins. In winter in the mitten state, I can rub my hands together for hours on end and still have frozen fingertips. I savor the moments that my core gets deeply heated on frosty mornings, as I ride my bicycle to work, because once I am at work, I can drink 10 cups of tea and 3 cups of coffee, piss all day long, and still have a chill clinging, like the best velcro, to just below the surface of my skin.

the garden so green and full

So, one more hoorah for the plentiful garden that flourished with green things and goodness and kept our bellies full and our hearts warm. The memory of you will hopefully help in keeping my chilly, winter digits a wee bit warmer this dark, cold season.

the thought of you, pineaple sage, will keep me warm in winter


amanda said...

Those are great pictures...
i am so jealous of your gardens. When we moved off the plantation we kinda gave up the gardening thing, and now have just a few sad veggies and herbs hanging on in pots on our front stoop.

Att said...

This is one of the things I truly love about living in Texas. When I lived in my childhood home my mother had an above ground tomato planter (an old bathtub). We kept tomatoes well into January. Given, they were cherry tomato plants mostly, but even the heirloom plants yielded a good batch during the cooler months. The one thing I always remarked as characteristic of the south is this: my mother planted 3 rosemary plants in front of our house, as well as basil, parsley and thyme in the back, and those plants grew year round and we only plucked a few sprigs whenever needed.

I can't wait for the stability that comes with home ownership. Our current living situation is so achingly unstable that it hasn't yielded itself to anything more constant than an orchid in a pot. I mean, we could do potted tomatoes and herbs but it's not the same as walking through bushy, low-lying herbs and pushing your hands through dirty leaves to grab that fat, round tomato that's been staring you down all morning.