The Subtlety of the Seasons

late summer harvestIt’s easy to miss the changing of the seasons this time of year in California. The hills have been brown for a while so there really isn’t much chance of a seasonal display. The geese aren’t migrating anywhere, but rather take a morning flight around the neighborhood only to settle down at the lake they took off from. But there are signs if you look carefully.

Every morning I have to duck under the garden orb spider’s web that stretches from my door to the front hedge. The spider, less than a quarter of an inch now, will be about the size of a quarter in October. The morning light on the seed heads of the Prairie Love Grass seems to be particularly enchanting now. And the afternoon breeze is coming from a slightly different direction as it cools down the yard after a day of warm weather. Fall is on its way.

But because the seasons don’t abruptly start and stop, there is much overlap in vegetable growth. And it’s this time every year that I have to make the difficult decision of when to take out the still producing warm season crop. Most of the time the decison is based on when I have time to do it. Such is the case this year. With the nursery season slowing a bit, I’m able to take an extra day off here and there. With the long Labor Day weekend here, I decided that today was the day. The colorful basket above it the result of a portion of a veggie garden’s demise. The mini pumpkin vine that has come up as a total volunteer was already starting to wither and die so the fruits of it’s efforts this year will now decorate my front desk well into the holiday season. The Lemon Boy tomatoes have already found there way into a batch of salsa blended with mango and  peach chunks for a bit of sweetness. The eggplant will be chopped and sauteed to be stuffed into the Anaheim peppers with a bit of cheese for tonight’s dinner.

As bittersweet as it is to see this garden season come to a close, I’m anxious to get a jump on the fall season. Snap peas have already been planted along with another crop of potatoes. A few bunches of lettuce are waiting for their spicier companions–arugula and mustard. Soon I’ll be deciding if I want to battle the cabbage moth’s offspring for some broccoli and kale. So as I uproot and chop the plants that have produced so well this season into neat little piles, I find myself feeling reinvigorated and renewed. Once again the garden becomes a clean slate in which to plant. And once again my gardening spirit is reborn.

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