by Phyllis Galowitz
The leaves are falling swiftly and their jewel tones will disappear all too soon. The mornings are cold. I have to turn the heat on to take the chill off. The last tomatoes were caught by the first frost in mid-October but most of them had been rescued before, and I had been making lots of sauces and soups together with the last of the peppers, zucchini, and basil. My freezer is full.
My vegetable garden is quite small: about eight feet square. That’s about what I can take care of by myself, so I don’t have too much to do in the fall. After cleaning up all of the plant residue, I’ll turn over the soil, add some manure, some leaf mold that has been composting since last year, and fertilizer. I’ll dig it to a depth of about twelve inches, smooth it out, and cover the whole area with about three inches of chopped leaves. I will cover it with black plastic and leave it to stew until spring, when it will be perfect for planting. Each year is a learning experience. Last year, I piled up all of the leaves that I raked from the lawn, making a blanket about two feet high and covered it with black plastic. However I found in the spring, that the leaves had not decomposed, so I transferred them to a compost pile to be used this year. They have cooked down and, hopefully, will continue to do so and become a marvelous mulch.
The most wonderful things about gardening are the surprises that occur without my help. Flowers have reseeded themselves in unexpected places. New trees are growing in my “tree nursery” which I will transplant to more appropriate spots when they are big enough. Wild flowers choose their rightful places and always look perfect, wherever they grow! ~