Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Golden rod is in color under the powerlines. The joe-pye weed is blooming along the roadside. There's ironweed growing around the pond - no flowers yet, just a six foot stalk and a promise.
The grass in the back meadow and in the run between my place and J*'s is brown. Not brown, no. It's green, but it's not green like green in Spring. It's green like it has brown in it. The fields are dry like powder, and if I irrigate, the next day they're dry like powder. We got quite a rain less than a week ago, but the traces of all that wetness are nil. Galansoga has grown up between the kale and all through the potato patch. It's flowered and gone to seed and dried out and died. Walk through there with shorts on and it'll scratch your legs.
It's fall. Maybe in some parts of the world, or, in some people's minds, it's not fall. But here, on this little farm in the Appalachians, in a place some call Katuah, or, at the very least, about 36 degrees North longitude, it's fall. This explains it better than I'd ever be able to.
We've got the fall planting in: a bit more kale, some collards and lettuce. Brussel sprouts and kohlrabi. We put out one more squash planting - hope to have squash right to the end of October. I'll throw out some mustard seed pretty soon - like, in the next week. And then that's it. It's getting a bit too late to plant, folks, leastaways 'round here it is, if you want the plants to get to any size at all. It's getting darker, and it's gonna be real dark, soon. It's not exactly getting cooler, not in my book, anyway, not yet. But it's gonna get cooler soon enough, and I mean soon enough that if the plants aren't in the ground now they're not going to be big enough to eat before it gets cold.
August is dry and everything goes to seed and if you're not on top of your shit it's too late to do anything. That's fall. The earth seems to give up moisture faster than it collects it. Everything dries out. Even the ragweed, now in it's full evil splendor throughout the garden, feels dry and about to give it all up, it's mocking lush greenness not withstanding. The earth is dry and hard to walk on and you can't sink a fencepost. The weeds, too, know that summer is over. They germinate more slowly, now, and in just a little while, they won't germinate at all. They know the cold is coming, and know that if you've not already jockeyed into prime position to flower and scatter seed then there's no use trying. We'll go through the fall beds and weed once, and they won't be a problem anymore.
There's nothing left to plant, save for a bit of mustard seed to broadcast. We'll weed some more, but this time of year it is not the task of Sisyphean hopelessness that it is in "summer." So what to do? Harvest. It's fall.
The peppers are coming on and the tomatoes are in full swing. The squash is exploding (though all but the newest of leaves are dry and yellow and ... brown.) Pumpkins are comin' on. The tobacco across the road has been topped and will be cut soon. Silage trucks will be up and down the road before we know it. And I'm feeling like the major work of the year is over and we're ready to start shutting down. We'll put in garlic and strawberries for next year before too long, and cover the fields with rye and clover for the winter. I'll spend the rest of this month and most of the next fiddling with the equipment, and maybe even have time to work on the house .... Oh. yeah. And get some firewood. It's fall.
November, December and January is dark and cold and wet, at least around here it is. Leave some wet socks on the line, and they'll still be wet a week later. Winter.
Not too many people write poems about February in Western North Carolina, but, believe it or not, that's spring. I can see the rye really green up and even start to grow in February, and we'll get crocus and maybe daffodil. March really warms up, and the life all comes out of the earth and into the trees and the grass again. Some of the trees barely start to bud out. Others wait for April, when the whole world glows green and everything grows in leaps and bounds. The feel is still cool and wet, and we may even get snow, but above it all is a green promise of warmth. Spring.
May the frosts are pretty much over. Toward the end of the month all the summer stuff goes into the ground: tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, okra. It's more hot than anything else. The evenings may be cool, but it is a coolness that carries with it the promise of a hot tomorrow. Mid-day may even be a bit cool, especially if it's raining, but it is an early summer coolness that says one layer is enough and don't get spoiled. June the summer plants grow big and tall and the leaves on the poplars change from their early growth electric green to their sort of faded out I've been here a long time green. They don't glow with new life. They sit on the mountainside quietly and stoically, contemplating or perhaps tolerating middle age. July is Hell. Summer.
And that brings us back to -
Goldenrod is in color beneath the powerlines ....
Okay. I'm no Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and I don't pretend to write like one. Nor am I a scholar on Celtic or any other wisdom. This is Let It Grow, and nothing more. But I have noticed a few things here over the years, and I send them off into cyber-space for your perusal. That being said,
Here's Will Cuppy:


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