Garden Gatherings From Treetops, Preparations in The Garden, The Home and The Heart for The Coming Winter
Garden tips for fall,
Here in Coos County, the Autumn celebrations continue, the Blackberry Festival, and the Cranberry Festival, once again bring a finality to summer. It is now time to trim back the roses, but leave some to form hips so the plant can finish it’s cycle. One is encouraged to slash back all the dead growth and “tidy” up the garden for winter, but if you leave the standing flowers, with their seed heads intact, you will provide a smorgasbord for the birds, and one can just as easily clean up a little later in the season when all is crisp and frozen. Its time to spread on generous amounts of compost, shredded leaves, well-rotted manure, to replenish spent vegetable beds, pull weeds, rake leaves, cut back annuals and perennials, shred if possible, and turn them into the compost pile for spreading in spring.
One should store away the winter squash with at least 2″ of stem in a cool dry preferably dark place. Delicata and Sweet Potato squash are the only ones we grow. The fruits must not touch, and air must circulate, and you will have fresh squash clear through January. Onions, shallots, and nuts should go in mesh bags or slotted crates and you mustn’t forget to check all produce regularly for signs of rot. There is nothing more comforting than rows of canned fruit, relishes and jellies on the shelves, bright orange and green globes of squash, boxes of trays of apples, and a freezer full of vegetables. We pull our tomatoes at the first sign of “late blight” and wrap each green globe halfway up in a sheet of newspaper (makes it easier to check for ripening, and store them in a cool dark place. The “keeper” varieties such as “Burpee Long Keeper” and “Keepsake Hybrid” will last longer, but any variety can be “put up” to ripen in this manner and you will have fresh tomatoes clear through Christmas.
The holiday season takes us on its own journey into the past in a most poignant manner. With all the kids grown and gone, and the grand-kids far away, celebrating Christmas with just the two of us, there is a tendency to reflect on Christmases past more than Christmases present. Christmas growing up in the seaside town of Hunstanton, England, always meant a huge live tree in the assembly hall of the boarding school in which I lived. Mother was the principal and the school was also my home. It was decorated with “oh my gosh” small white, but very real candles. There was always the annual Christmas play, and afterwards the much anticipated Christmas party complete with “Father Christmas” and presents for every child. On Christmas day, there would be dates, and chocolates, and port wine in delicate crystal, silly paper hats which we all had to wear, and Christmas crackers for the table. This child would always get sick with excitement. Best of all, we never missed a performance of the Christmas pantomime in the Town Hall. Taking our seats as the violins plinked and plunked to get in tune, the low murmur of the audience would slowly settle down as the lights dimmed and the curtains went up. We would sit back in our plush seats ready to be enthralled with such musical extravaganzas as “Babes in the Wood,” “Cinderella,” or “Dick Whittington.” The latter was my favorite as Dick had a cat. These musical comedies would very loosely follow the plots of old nursery stories. Shows wherein the ”Dame” was played by a man, and the leading man, played by a woman. The players were usually drawn from local talent, and the whole show played for laughs.
The way in which we choose to celebrate our Christmases, and likewise, the way we plan our gardens, is an attempt to recreate something indescribably intangible, pages from our childhood that in truth never really existed, and the fond memories we struggle so hard to relive and recreate, never quite materialize before they get once again lost in the complicated journey through life.
During these upcoming holidays, take care and be sure to share!