Nothing blooms in the prairie or the garden, except a few straggling asters, such as the pale lavender ones above (trust me, in the prairie they're pale lavender), surprising atop browned stalks among browned prairie grasses, as well as a few white asters. The last whiff of summer. They might be natives or introduced varieties, I can't tell them apart. So many aster species exist, and often the only way to distinguish them is by a few subtle differences.
The summer vegetables are gone. The peppers have been roasted and frozen, and the plants quietly decompose in the compost heap
The last crisp, brown corpses of tomato plants have been removed. In their place tidy beds rest, covered in either hay mulch or short green oats and clover. I love the tidiness of season's end almost as much as the rampant growth of high summer.
Cabbages, lettuce, and other cool-love vegetables do their thing under white-draped low tunnels.
We had a couple of nights of freezing weather in the middle of October, followed by the most wonderful Autumn weather. Even the dark, rainy days were glorious. I've been able to work outdoors with just a light jacket, even in my shirt sleeves.
|Goldenrod seed head in the prairie.|
But that has changed. I'll need a coat today, and shoes. Freezing is in the forecast again. A bit deeper this time. Today I'll start adding layers to the fall-winter vegetable garden, pulling back row covers, harvesting some, then spreading row cover over the top of the plants, and closing the tunnel again. I hope this gives enough extra protection to keep things from getting burned.
Most of the tunnels are covered with a bit heavier row cover that they call a "frost blanket." It holds just a couple of degrees of extra warmth, which is all that is needed at this point. I will go through and determine which beds are covered with the lighter version and decide whether I need to replace it with frost blanket. In a couple of weeks I'll have to decide whether to add more layers of protection, or just harvest everything and give it up to the season.
But that will be then. Today I'll focus on what I know needs to be done and watch the season deepen. My mind and body follow the season, settling deeper into a resting state. I sleep a bit later. Feel sleepy earlier in the evening. I lack creative energy. That's fine, I tell myself. This is a period of restoration and gestation. Those creative seeds I've planted will spend their time evolving in my subconscious, and when the time is right, they'll send down roots and poke up shoots. Like the seeds in the ground, I must give them time.
Let winter do its job.