Tis the season…

Tis the season for growing compost piles, for weeding unwanted seeds from the stockpile, for starting a wishlist for next year and reflecting on the season’s passing.

I think it may be the last year for the raised beds. And I think I’ll help them go. They harbor ants nests I can’t beat back or cajole away. They permit sweet potatoes to bunker under the walls, lessening the harvest and sowing the next generation of ground cover in the same allowance.

But to do so would require remapping the irrigation installed by our predecessors. And that is not in the time budget between now and the early sowings of spring when we’ll try for more peas and beans and carrots and things.

So perhaps another year, I’ll eke out of these tiring lengths, and perhaps next winter we’ll be moving, or the kids will be old enough to require less of my ship’s side to barnacle upon which will both ease and sadden my heart, and also increase the time budget a smidge, methinks. We shall see.

So the beds will rest, the compost will grow, and the caterpillars will continue to feast like royalty upon my cauliflower dreams.

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Slugs in June.

“I’ll make you a deal,” I plead, cheerful optimism forced upon each syllable. “You go to sleep and stay asleep before the sun sets so I can have some garden time, and I’ll give you three extra kisses.”

It’s dim, but not dark. Just before eight o’clock. I rush outside. I want to dig the rest of the garlic before it rots where it’s buried. I see an ant sipping the wine of the Mexican Oregano.

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The fading light leaves a squash blossom alit.

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I check on the carrots, long shaded by last year’s hidden sweet potatoes.

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And the leek’s getaway is complete.

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I hear the backdoor creak open. My heart sinks.

“He’s asking for you. Do you want me to bring him down or do you want to go back up?”

I go back up. The irrational emotions flare with each step. I take a deep breath, lower my shoulders, and swallow them down until I’ve softened.

It’s nearly nine o’clock. I haven’t finished my dinner. I nearly sprint out the door, snatch up my trowel, and make a bee line for the garlic. Surrounded by liquefied chard leaves the garlic is doing its best to thwart the hunger that crawls around it, along it, but hopefully not through it.

I send the blade deep into the soil and pry. Each root gives one by one and at once. The soil clings heavy. The roots ching greedily. Tap, tap, tap – some falls. I drape the shoot over the edge of the bed and move on. Another. Slice. Pry. Tap.Tap.Tap. Drape. Again.

The pill bugs scatter. The slugs hold tight. An earthworm seemingly launches from the earth and frantically races toward blind freedom. I watch it a moment. Dropping soil gently down its length, I bury it.

It’s dark now. Ration has yet to return. Dinner is three hours cold. I’m depleted. Unable to find enjoyment in the moments of daylight spent outdoors, alone, I step past the dinner bowl discarded to feed others, tend to others, love on others.

An apple, a knife, and a jar of peanut butter usually does the trick. Here’s hoping.

Across April.

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“Puhpul flowers”

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“Peas? More peas?”

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“Caderperar right dere?”

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“Tomayo!” (And a sweet potato volunteer…)

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“Uh oh. It get down.” (The arbor fell in a storm.)

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“Snail! Hold it? Mama hold it?”

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“Carrots ok.” (And more sweet potato volunteers.)

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“Lello flowers.” (On a broccoli that never made broccoli but made plenty of greens and is now over six feet tall. This photo is at my eye level and it’s well over my head.)

Now, onto preparing for a little gardener’s airplane party… (“aye-plane!Noise…See it!”)

Dig deeper.

If at first you find only frustration and disappointment…
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Dig deeper.

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It’s not quite the fifty pounds from a few years back, but for the size of that planting and the size of this one I’d say it’s a tie. 28 pounds of sweet potatoes and I’m pretty sure I missed a few that dove down or escaped under the planks to the edging paths.

And while I felt a month late, apparently I’m 11 days earlier than 2012. Also, note to self: if you want to turn questionably nutritious soil into glorious earth sow sweet potatoes first. Now what to sow tomorrow to keep it lovely until spring?