Helen's 2004 Container Garden

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September 27, 2004

When I started this quasi-webcam , I was much more eager to post images. As it is, over a month has passed, and I have not taken any photos until today. All that is left in the garden are a few  tomato plants, collards, and rosemary.

Although my first tomatoes of the summer had a pasty texture when I bit into them, the rest have been great. I have enjoyed picking and eating them just moments after taking them off the vine. And in this late part of the season, although the tomatoes are not as red and juicy as the earlier ones, it's especially nice to savor them ... not only the pungent taste but to recognize them as a symbol of the last fruit of the season off my deck.

I like winter and cold weather, but I also like fresh, locally-grown, vine-ripened tomatoes. So as I savor the last ones of the season, I will do so with a Zen-like attention to the moment. And when  winter and the cold weather arrives, I will savor those moments, too, and enjoy some of my home-canned vegetable soup. However, not having a well-practiced Zen nature and not finding it easy to focus on the present moment, I will also hold memories of the summer of 2004 and my deck garden. Then around about March, I will start thinking about my garden for 2005.

I can live without fresh tomatoes until then, knowing that eating in tune with the seasons is healthy. I also know that grocery store tomatoes, that are shipped in from Mexico, are bred to be durable for the trip. That means they are not at all satisfying to the palette. So I savor the remnant of my tomato crop now along with a few that I can get at the Magic Beanstalk or farmers market. It is a bittersweet time ... to savor the end of a growing season and the emergence of winter.

I have overturned the other pots, emptied out the soil and plants, crumbled the soil by hand, tossed the hard stems in the garbage, and put the leaves in the compost pile, and returned the soil to the pots to stand for the winter. In the spring,

Perhaps collards have been my most successful vegetable this season. I started with two pots. One pot was ravaged by cabbage moths early in the summer, and the plants ended up as mere sticks. The collards in the other pot lasted for a long time.

I got a lot of good helpings of collard from the second plant. But eventually, the moths had done their job on it, too. So in August, I emptied some pots, loosened  the soil, stirred compost into it, and planted new collard seed.

The plants are doing OK but have not been immune to the chewing advances of the moths. I am hoping that the weather will turn cold enough to thwart the moths without harming the plants.

Actually, collards like cold weather, and a year ago, I was able to pick collards at Joe Lynch and Lonna Nachtigal's Onion Creek Farm clear into November.

Perhaps I'll need to monitor the thermometer each night before I go to bed, and if there is a threat of freezing, I will bring the pots of collards into my kitchen for a night time sanctuary.

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