Putting the Garden to Bed


 As an urban gardener connected to the earth, I am experiencing the familiarity of the autumn season.  The tomato vines are yellow with no tomatoes, the pollinators are slowly dissappearing, and winter squash harvests are abundant.  These things are indicators that I need to prepare to 'put the gardens to bed' because the earth I cultivate vegetables in will have a long winter slumber.  I look at the autumn season as a clock letting me know what time I need to pull out old crops out the garden and place protective mulch on it to ensure fertile mulch for spring. 
       I write this blog post to share my connection to the earth when putting a garden to bed.  As an earth stewardess and consumer of sustainably grown vegetables, I observe many things when I conduct this ceremonious act every year.  I notice the need for rest, a feeling of accomplishment and a strong sense of promise.  These things I am aware of are connected to the spirit and physical state of the earth as well as myself.  Here are my remarks on rest, accomplishment and promise when putting a garden to bed and how it can be done.

    The earth and I go through a lot to provide sustenance through my annual vegetable cultivation and we need rest as a result.  I am blessed with high yields and abundant harvests of numerous garden grown produce because I know there is constant activity in soil that is not seen.  That activity involves giving nutrients and it can be taxing on the earth if there is no rest. Not only does the earth get tired of my continuous cultivation but I do as well.   Planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, bending, kneeling, and carrying-these are the activities I do for about 7 months throughout the growing season.  My body is burnt out by the fall months and like the earth I am tired.  I give thanks for the muscle aches and soreness as I allow myself to accept rest in my body after eating a garden based meal.  I feel the earth giving thanks for stewarding her as I remove remnants of fruitful crops and amend the soils with dead leaves and straw that will decay as she rests over the winter months. I believe the earth and I accept our rest will gladness as we silently prepare for the next season.

    In my role as an urban gardener I feel a sense of accomplishment throughout the garden season and I recognize it in the earth as well.  When planting vegetable seeds in the earth, I am intentional in believing a fruitful harvest before the seeds sprout; I know the earth does the same.  Harvests throughout the seasons are great celebrations to me because I know my planting intentions have manifested due to the earth's help.  As I put the garden to bed, I reflect on garden based meals I ate and fed to others, the various vegetables I preserved and the life stages of the garden.  These are achievements.  Better health in my body and continuous food supply as a result of the garden are not my accomplishments alone...the earth plays a huge role to obtain them.  The earth is the medium and the encouragement I need to meet my garden goals.  Putting the garden to bed is affirmation as well as confirmation of my gardening role.

    Promise is part of the process of putting the garden to bed.  I am reminded of all my promises and plans I made in winter of planting nutritious vegetable beds and their manifestation during the season.  I make a promise with each seed I plant in the spring; my vow is to make sure I do my part to ensure the growth of the plants, even if they do not provide a yield. As the garden is put down, I am reminded that the soil's promise to do its best to for the next growing season. When I cover the earth with decaying leaves and straw at the end of harvest, I realize the soil keeps its promise every season with each harvest I obtain.  I am never without when it comes to gardening because I follow through with my promise to steward land and the earth keeps her promise by providing sustainable food in return.  The earth and I do not make promises we do not intend to keep.

         As the garden slumbers during the winter months, I continue to plan and prepare for the upcoming growing season.  This is the time to research growing methods, create garden bed plans and research new kinds of seeds for planting in the spring months.  I encourage you to think about your garden aspirations for next year.  What crops would you like to grow again?  What did not work well for your garden?  How can you do better?  How can you increase your yield for each harvest you desire to have?  These are questions you can ask yourself as the soil in your garden amends and awaits your planting and harvesting.  Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and ideas.