It’s official. Apart from a few hardy species that relish cold weather for some absurd reason, backyard garden 2018 has now been decommissioned.
Several less-hardy species—tomatoes, peppers, et alia—clung valiantly to life in their wheeled, rodent-resistant enclosures much longer than I had expected.
But once the overnight temperatures headed into negative territory on a regular basis, they finally admitted enough was enough, tarp and burlap blankets notwithstanding.
It’s an ambivalent time in Geezerville.
My little patch of garden yielded countless hours of pleasant puttering all spring and summer. Not to mention the aerobic benefits of chasing and cursing those rapacious hordes of squirrels, several times per day.
I’m reluctant to bid it farewell.
On the other hand, looking over its freshly turned and loosened contours, I find myself daydreaming about the promise of perfection to come next year.
The raised beds have been built and installed, lending an extra 10 inches or so of loamy loft to the whole affair. Perlite and peat have been liberally deployed, along with the sand needed to slice through some annoying patches of clay.
A few days back, four different varieties of garlic were lovingly embedded at the recommended depth for my zone, then tucked in under a thick duvet of straw: seven bucks a bale at the local farmers’ market.
That’s it then, right? I can put away spade and cultivator, rake, hoe and hose. I can retire the kneeling pads and weeding buckets, and put my feet up for the next six months or so. Right?
I can renew my library card, hunker down in an overstuffed chair and pretend to hear the crackle of well-dried hardwood in our non-existent fireplace.
A glass of decent red will be at my elbow, while yet another bowl of double chocolate ice cream and apricot preserves balances on my lap. All will be right with the world. Right?
The harsh reality is that a gardening Geezer’s life doesn’t go dormant in fall. It merely downsizes and moves indoors.
Last year’s grow lights have been complaining about nothing to do. Bags of potting soil await deployment into a helter-skelter collection of terracotta and plastic pots, to be balanced precariously on every suitable window ledge.
Vital questions arise: How much basil do we really need this winter, when the freezer is already bulging with a summer’s worth of pesto? Is parsley really worth the effort, when the commercial stuff can be had year-round for a pittance?
The biggest question of all: Why is there not a single packet of seeds, or bag of bone-and-blood meal to be found in any of the places I normally shop?
Why? Because as early as the first week of October, the gardening stuff had all been put in storage or shipped back to the suppliers, to make room for all that lucrative yuletide booty.
After all, isn’t Christmas the real meaning of retail?