We pulled the last of the veggies yesterday. Six short stalks of itty-bitty Brussels sprouts, and five teeny-tiny cabbages. I cut the sprout stalks with clippers, and then had to use the shovel to dig up the roots and stumps because the ground is already starting to freeze and we could see the ice crystals in the dirt. The original goal was to leave them in the garden and harvest on Thanksgiving morning for a true “farm to table” side dish, but we have had multiple hard frosts, and the daytime highs are in the 30s now – I decided not to risk it. Based on some reading, we left the sprouts on the stalks, wrapped them in plastic bags, and tucked them into the crisper drawer on high humidity to ride out their remaining week. The cabbages got the same treatment, and I hope to get them into a crock or jar this weekend to become sauerkraut for New Year’s Day.
There’s some cruel irony that the growing season ends right when I begin to feel energized to do things. We hustle all summer long, making and prepping and growing and chopping to the point of exhaustion, and when the cooler temps arrive to refresh us, it’s time to stop. And yet it’s a very clear reminder that we all need a season to rest, including Mother Nature. There’s no subtlety in her delivery, that’s for sure.
And so we put the gardens to bed – our current plot will soon be mulched and transitioned to a perennial bed (raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb for now), and our new plot has been started. We decided to move the main garden to the other side of the house where it will receive full sun for the majority of the day. It’s situated along the driveway in a flat space below the main orchard. We marked it out a full two-thirds longer than you see in the photo, and then realized we hadn’t stockpiled enough material to get it going and had to reduce our aspirations…at least for now. There’s plenty of room to expand, and goodness, it does look tiny from above, despite being a larger space than I tended this season. We began by putting down a whole mess of fallen, rotting apples, covered them with pine shavings and manure from the chicken coop, and blanketed the whole area with cardboard. We’re hoping to throw a layer of composted horse manure on top to finish, though it’s now a race against the snow, and I’m not sure we’re going to win.
In theory, this lasagna method will kill off the existing grass while nourishing the dirt below, and all the cardboard should be broken down in time to till it under in the spring. Yes, I think we’re going to rent a rototiller this time, and have at it. Turning the soil with the spade took me far too long, and I am just not physically strong enough to manage a large enough space in time to plant. As a friend pointed out, I will lose all that time I spent digging out rocks in the other plot, and have to do it all over again in the spring in this new spot, but our raspberries will reap the benefit of my efforts for years to come, and I’ll have all winter to forget just how hard I worked and get excited to be out in the dirt again.
Though we have over a month to go until the Solstice, it’s truly beginning to feel wintry here. Mittens are always tucked into mama’s bag, and no one leaves the house without a hat. They will still be blaze orange for a few more weeks as hunting season winds down. Beanie and I took a little walk during Swee’s piano lesson yesterday, partially to get a little bit of fresh air but really to keep her from pestering the teacher’s cat for half an hour. We checked out the dam at Mill Pond, the water rushing through the opening and down over the rocks. There’s a thin layer of translucent ice on the pond’s still surface, and jagged clumps on the stones below. Beanie is already talking about skating, and there are snowflakes on my ten-day forecast. Definitely time to come indoors and give it a rest.