Our gardening goal for this year? Seeds in the ground by Halloween.
It seems unholy to plant in October. We’ve only planted garden’s in the Midwest— where you hope to have your garden in by Mother’s day. And by late autumn, you’re cutting the end of your kale and baking up some pie pumpkins.
We are learning to feel the seasons in our new desert bioregion. We put the garden to bed for the summer and start the seeds in the refrigerator to mimic frost in the fall. Bizarre.
After college, my husband moved from mild-weathered Santa Barbara to the harsh winters and humid summers of Northwest Iowa. And it took him along time to adjust — and not just to the weather. He felt out of place and out of focus in the prairie land, he missed the sea. One Sunday after a delicious proper-midwestern-post-church supper, our friend’s dad told him as we walked to the door, “…you have to give it a year. Every thing always looks better when you’ve seen two seasons in a place. Trust me, it took us a year when we moved here.”
And I think that’s where we are. We’re looking at the second autumn here. And we are learning to alter and expand our traditions within this new place.
Nothing grew in our house or our garden for a year. We killed cactus. Do you know how hard it is to kill something that knows how to thrive in drought?
I think the energy that we cultivated in this house was barely enough for survival. We were bracing for impact. And it wasn’t until our first year mark passed that we started to ease up.
And, incredibly, we noticed green shoots coming up in our newly planted potatoes.
Happy first year, to us.
And now we’ve spent the weekend, literally, digging into this place.
We’ve given the palm trees a much needed haircut. We’ve planted our seedlings that have been growing for only a few weeks. And we planted a few citrus trees— hoping to make preserved lemons and marmalade.
Thankfully, we still have marigolds in the fall. I needed something gold.
The pumpkins in our patch are wooden, the jack-o-lantern pumpkins were picked from the cardboard grocery bin.
We’ve spent our whole married life cultivating a piece of land— we’ve kept an acre, a community garden plot, several kitchen gardens and a tiny fairy garden. But, these gardens have fed ourselves and our community. The year without a garden felt like there was an empty hole, something known and familiar missing. And all the actions that accompany seedlings, cultivation, planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, preserving and wintering. The rhythm that comes from the land, the seasons.
And we can’t wait to open up this next year of cultivation. We are practicing hospitality to our tiny plot land and to our plants— and to ourselves.
Here’s to a year of openness and to slowly release the brace for impact. Instead of a rigid fear of the unknown, we might actually have our seedlings resting in the planting bed.
Just in time to carve pumpkins.