Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ever the Optimist

Gardening, like parenting, means one must be ever the optimist, having faith that all will turn out in the end, that all will be provided for, hoping and trusting for good results yet refraining from getting too caught up in the end product -- learning to take pleasure in the process.  Because, surely who would even begin these endeavors if the only reason is a "good" end result.  These are my thoughts as I pull out the blighted beans and defoliated tomato stalks, to make room . . . .

And is there anything more optimistic than planting a fall garden here in our zone 7(A?B? -- I forget, as it has changed during my adulthood -- we're included with northern Mississippi now, rather than the rest of Tennessee)?  A cloudy, cool(er) day (it IS cooler, only 75 degrees, but very very muggy), with a light rain that has lasted several hours -- the product of a cold front coming from the northwest meeting with the northern most rain bands of Tropical Storm Lee.

So a great day for planting seeds for plants that will hopefully grow through the fall and maybe even the winter.  Will it be moist enough for the seeds to germinate?  Or will we get torrential fall storms that wash them away?  Once they germinate will the temperatures moderate so the baby seedlings don't burn up in the hot weather September often has here?  Will we get a frost in early October to zap the babies before they get enough strength to withstand the cold (our average frost date is October 15), or will a killing frost hold off this year until near Christmas, making us wish we had planted more lettuce, left those tomato vines for a second flush of produce?  And will the seedlings put on enough growth before the dwindling daylight places them into a holding pattern until the days begin to lengthen once more after the Solstice?  Plant too early, and they die from heat and drought.  Plant too late and they don't put on enough growth until Spring.

But that's all about the end result.  Today is touching the living Earth, "tickling the earth" as people have done since the beginning.  Planting the seeds as the rain dampens my clothes.  Smelling the microbes doing their work in the soil, as you can when the temperature is moderate and the ground moist (this is what "smelling the rain" actually is -- the microbes in the soil responding to the moisture).  I've done what I can do.  The harvest to come?  We'll see.  It's really not the point.

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