When we received our first frost last week – as short-lived as it was – it was enough to kill my heat-loving plants…as well as a little piece of my heart. I know that, in the cycle of life, summer crops are meant to die when stroked by autumn’s cold tentacles; but seeing my plant “babies,” whom I have nurtured for months, bowed over with wilted leaves and frozen fruit brings a pang of sorrow. Despite the root crops and greens growing in nearby beds, I still mourn the loss of summer’s abundance.
In my refrigerator was a basketful of my last peppers, which I harvested right before the frost and used to make a batch of hot pepper relish. As I pulled the jars from my canning pot, I said to my beau, “Do you realize this is my last canning job of the year?” I stared at the jars cooling on my counter and actually thought of taking a picture – as though I were marking the end of an era.
Yes, it was a sad few days last week. I’ve been spoiled living in the South where the summer season stretches long. A good frost is a bit of a reality check. Autumn has surely come…even here.
Then, in the midst of my melancholy, a ray of sunshine arrived at my house via the post office – my very first 2014 seed catalog from Baker Creek! I tore the wrapper from that life-filled tome and danced with it around the house.
That evening, I curled up on the couch with a cup of hot tea and oohed and aahed over the possibilities for spring planting. After Thanksgiving (and Hanukkah), the lists will be made, planting charts drawn, and orders prepared. There’s nothing like a new seed catalog to get a gardener’s green thumb itching to get back into the dirt.
But why wait another week? I was now anxious to get a move on. With the annual bout of minor melancholy behind me (thank you, Baker Creek, for the extra kick), I set my mind on other preparations.
As I noted in a previous post, I ordered two apple trees and three grape vines that should be arriving in the next week. So, out came the measuring tape and the shovel – and a couple of empty planters posing as future trees – while I decided where those apple trees would go. With the help of my beau and his son, I now have a couple of large crop circles in my yard as I await delivery of the next installment in my orchard.
Of course, that got me thinking about the small bed in front of my house on either side of my entryway. I have red gladioli planted up against the house, but the rest of the bed is still empty. Well, I decided not to wait until spring to plant. Out came the computer and a search for tulip bulbs. (Yes, most people have already planted their fall bulbs by now, but hey – this IS the South where the milder climate accommodates my occasional last-minute gardening decisions.)
Because it’s so late in the season, I found a great deal on triumph tulips at Roozen Gaarde. Of course, some selections were sold out already, but I still found three beautiful tulips and ordered 20 of each last night — a pure white, a deep purple, and a white tulip with purple flames. I can’t wait to plant them and then see them bloom in the spring!
Yes, the colder weather is beginning to creep its way into the South to make its home for the next three months. Thankfully, I don’t have to sit behind a snow-flecked window while my gardening tools lie dormant in a cold, dark corner of the shed. I can dote over my cool-weather crops for weeks to come; plant my apple trees and grape vines and tulip bulbs when they arrive; then sit by the fire with my seed catalogs and garden plans, dreaming autumn dreams of garden spring.
What are you dreaming of?