‘Tis the Season

Shade bed June 2013

Our lives change by the seasons.  Our friends are learning to accept that in March, April, and May I will be consumed by the enormous work of cleaning beds, planting, moving, sharing, mulching, weed pulling, and every other task involved with flower and plant gardening.  Kerry will help me when he can, but he, too, has a massive job of plowing, turning, tilling, and planting his vegetable garden.  He also plants a kitchen garden in raised beds.  These require constant diligence; weeds can consume herbs, vegetables, and fruit in no time.

When I am overwhelmed, he kindly joins me in my labor.  This spring I could not have gotten enough pine needles raked, hauled, and spread without him, nor the weeds pulled before laying the needles down over the soil.  The OCD in me could not allow one single weed to be left for later plucking.  He doesn’t share the intensity of my weed anxiety, but he does not complain as he hoes them.

Perennial bed June 2013

Mostly we work in tandem, he to his tasks, I to mine.  Sometimes I sit on my gardening stool (that saves my back from more injury) and watch him with his trousers tucked into his garden boots.  I think then that he works harder than any person I have ever known.  He says it is his therapy from work pressures.  He says it is better than spending time apart from me at a gym for physical exercise.  And I have to say that we are in sync with this work of ours that is of our choosing.  We love it more than anything else we do.

Raised bed with kitchen garden of herbs, vegetables, and fruit. June 2013

June begins a different schedule of outdoor chores.  While I am breathing sighs of relief, pulling occasional weeds and watering in my flowerbeds, Kerry is already at the job of preparing the field for our next crop—pumpkins.  They have a 90 to 110 day germination period, so sales in September and October depend on our having seeds in the ground by the third week in June.  In fact, Kerry must start the field prep by February to get the soil to its fine and fluffy consistency for pumpkin planting.

The author with the morning's bounty from the family's vegetable garden
The author with the morning’s bounty from the family’s vegetable garden. July 2012

By July, it is time for picking.  Even though I grumble a little and claim that the Amish produce is just as good and easier to be had, I find myself picking vegetables daily.  Our meals are glorious at this time.  The salad greens, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, strawberries, blueberries, and asparagus have given way to the emerging corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, purple hull peas, squash, peppers, edamame, and other vegetables Kerry wants to try.

By August, I am completely overwhelmed with the whole lot of it.  I shed a few tears, complain about how hot it is when I am working in the garden, and I scheme and plot various ways of getting my husband out of the whole gardening business.  Once I shared these feelings with my 96-year-old aunt.  Her husband, my uncle, was our mentor, the one who taught us nearly everything we know about raising food.  She looked at me and told me calmly but firmly not to mention this to Kerry ever again.  She said to let that man plant whatever he wanted as long as he wanted.  Wise words from a wise woman.  At least Kerry wasn’t planting a large field of sorghum again, so I had this consolation.

Top to bottom: Jarrahdale, Flat White Boer, and Cinderella pumpkins. October 2012
July’s harvesting folds into August and September and bleeds into fall planting (sugar snap peas, turnip greens, garlic) and pumpkin picking time.  October is especially hectic when those fall beauties must be removed from the field.  The real benefit of pumpkins is the joy they bring, for they are harbingers of fall and the change in seasons.  As days get shorter and evenings cooler, our hearts are gladdened.  For now we can rest.  Before, fall was a dreaded time, the signal of a cold winter to come.  Dead leaves and empty trees.  Grey skies. Now we breathe sighs of relief knowing that we have a little time with no outdoor work beckoning us.

As winter hits it stride, I am still keeping my thoughts away from that thing that engulfs our lives for so long.  I crochet and write.  It is like a cleansing.  But the reverie lasts but a short time.   By February, I note in my garden journal plants that must be moved in early spring.  Kerry is pouring over seed catalogs and the Internet as he plans his next garden.  He plants seeds in his tiny shed/greenhouse. We are at it again, but now we are rejuvenated.  We anticipate the joys that our labor’s fruits will bring.  The cycle continues.

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