Reader, I think of you fondly and often. I haven’t forgotten this space. So many blog posts have been started and abandoned, both in my head and on the page, so many photos taken and then left to languish in laptop purgatory. So when I went out to the garden yesterday to bring in one of the last harvests of the season, I was determined to report back to you.
Two weeks ago, after an early hard frost, a weather report popped up in my Facebook feed. The last line read, in all caps, “THE GROWING SEASON IS ENDING.” Could the National Weather Service be any more dramatic? The same day, a farmer sent me this text after I asked if his fields contained anything LocalShare could glean: “We had 23 degrees that froze what we had left and turned it to mush.” This isn’t a surprise--the ancient Revolutionary-era ash tree outside our front door dropped its leaves a couple weeks ago, and I had to wear a winter coat last weekend--but the reiteration that WINTER IS COMING from all around does make it seem more real. It’s all not over just yet, though.
Our huge bed of kale, which started out as 24 pale, rescued seedlings, is happier than ever thanks to the low temperatures killing off the pests that were devouring their leaves, followed by some rain and a number of days with temperatures in the 60s. I continue to pick huge bunches of peppermint and spearmint several times a week, now with some urgency, to make big batches of my favorite green chai-mint iced tea before the cold gets serious and kills off everything green. And even though Mark objects to collecting horseradish root in the fall (yes, okay, it should be harvested in the spring for the optimum health of the plant, but our robust horseradish isn’t going to wither away anytime soon), he concedes that now is the time to make our favorite winter tonics--Rosemary Gladstar’s fire cider and my horseradish-infused vodka with caraway seed and honey from our bees.
Fall activities, working overtime, and kids’ schedules are keeping us so busy that getting out to the garden to do the most basic tasks seems nearly impossible. There are still potatoes in the ground; the garlic remains unplanted. Yesterday I couldn’t take it anymore and had to spend some time out there even though the rain was pouring down. And you know what? It was marvelous. There’s something deeply satisfying about gardening in the rain. I plucked enough sprouting broccoli to make a nice head’s worth for the kids’ lunches, checked on the leeks and brussels sprouts that we’re leaving out for as long as possible, squelched the sense of failure I felt upon seeing all the delicious ground cherries from this year’s bumper crop that went uncollected. The greenhouse was still humid with the intoxicating smell of warm earth that’s been seducing me since my first job in a greenhouse at age 15.
Next season we’ll be easing off on the large-scale gardening to offer the rest of our property some TLC. Ironically, even though we’ll be doing less gardening, this should leave me more time to post here. We’ve wanted to share stories about the earth oven we built at Luna Parc, the satisfying work of LocalShare, what’s going on at Genesis Farm, the farm dinners I’ve been cooking, the exciting things our friends have been up to, and of course, our ongoing kitchen and garden experiments. Because sharing with you all is my favorite.