It is growing cold, and so we are picking the tomatoes–some only slightly turned from green. First frosts bring a pithy taste to the summer fruit, so we cheat the season a bit by letting them ripen on our warm counters. Andjoli, who has found tomatoes to be her favorite garden food, is quite happy with the late season abundance. At fourteen months she is standing now, stretching her hand up and across our lowest counter tops to pull tomatoes down and make a red-wet mess of herself and the kitchen. I do not discourage her.

It is fall, and as they go, our garden has gotten away from us. It is fecund, mostly, with things we did not plant. Much of it is edible- and we are learning to eat and love the unexpected green things the land provides for us. I am amazed at the lamb’s quarters that made it through the rainless summer.  While our water barrels ran dry and our lettuce wilted, this spinach relative managed to acclimate, as the wild things tend to.  I tap it’s seed heads, encouraging the scattering of next year’s growth.

It is the season that I consider next year’s garden and I take notes about what we will rotate, what we will plant again. We hack through late-season overgrowth and tally up the hours we did not spend in the garden (and should have). I plan a smaller garden and an additional CSA share for next year.

In six months time, when I am waiting for spring and buying seeds at a green-lacking farmers market these plans will be forgotten. I don’t do well with the fluctuating mud and frost of Indiana winters, and am already rattled by the threat of staying more indoors. Walking the grounds, I watch it all die, taking notes no longer of garden plans, but instead of the first plants, going brown. The maple is a vivid orange, and is shedding itself across the front beds, filling cat food bowls, and covering over the kale, chard and amaranth that is still growing. I unbury and collect the green leaves left in the garden, trying not to lament winter too soon.


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