Monday, September 22, 2008

Winter Cometh...

Alright, we got our long, hot spell (the second coming of summer), and the tomatoes have finally begun to ripen. Isn't it crazy, though, that so much mental and physical work is expended on these plants for just several weeks of fruit? Maybe some of you out there got a bit more than that--a month or two--but that's with a lot of pampering. They're good, but are they THAT good?

I'm thinking that my fall crop of peas isn't going to amount to much. They're still awfully small. The spinach should be harvestable on time, though, and the chard should last through the winter.

My squash plants at work are not doing so good...all the flower stalks on the inside shriveled up and died, and the leaves have some sort of mold on them. Time's up!

Two days ago I was driving home from work. It wasn't dark yet, but it was raining, I was stuck in traffic, and everybody's lights were on. I suddenly had this memory wash over me--the memory of what it's like in the other Seattle, the Seattle that exists for the other eight months of the year. The one where it's dark a lot, and wet, and we all tuck inside of ourselves and become contemplatives or depressives, depending on our individual temperaments or the mood of the day. It really is shocking to me how the mood of this city, and of its inhabitants, shifts so dramatically between seasons.

And the gardens...

When I call myself a novice, I should add that I'm not a TOTAL novice. For several years I have established summer gardens, in the high desert of Utah where I formerly lived (when I wasn't traveling). I prepared the beds and planted the plants and even did a bit of weeding, but somehow I managed never to be around for the harvest, and every year I started a new garden in a new place, generally at a friend's house rather than my own (as I didn't usually have one of my own), so I never had a sense of continuity, and I never thought long-term. This is the first year where I will not only be gardening into winter, but preparing the beds for next year when I will (God-willing) garden again in the same spot. Woo-hoo!

I'm nervous. I'm reading to get ready. I'm reading Binda Colebrook's Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest and, of course, Steve Solomon's Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades. This is the plan for our plot at the p-patch:

Leave the young Chard and Kale in one patch for winter greens, and for the rest, bring in a bunch of compost and mix it in. This is to raise the overall soil level, as our plot has managed to sink...or perhaps our neighbors' plots have just managed to rise? Either way, we've become the swale, and that's no good.

Then we will mix in a bit more compost, dolomite lime, and fava beans shallowly into the top 2-3" of the soil and let the cover crops go wild.

It's gonna be a bit less work this winter than it has been this summer, isn't it?

No comments: