A favorite fall ritual of mine is to wait for a gloriously sunny October afternoon, load the cured winter squash from the greenhouse into a wheelbarrow, fill a bucket with soapy warm water, uncoil the hose one last time, and then...WASH MY SQUASH!
I once read that this helps eliminate bacteria from entering any nicks in the squash skin, helping it to store longer. Whether or not that's true, I do have great luck storing my winter squash far into springtime. And honestly, I enjoy handling each treasure chest of sweetly stored sunshine, feasting my senses on the weight, texture, and vivid hues as I hose off the dirt, give them a scrub, and lay them out to dry.
As a home gardener, the rituals I create as part of preserving foods are a gift I give myself, beyond providing food for our table. Whether it's setting up a chair in the yard surrounded by ingredients for pesto, piles of beans to be shelled, or washing a pile of beets for canning, my spirit is lifted, my soul nourished, and the artist in me awakens.
Taking out the tomatoes, on the other hand, is a chore I save for rainy days. Never high on my priority list, the vines continue to wither and mold, and seem to taunt me whenever I pop into the greenhouse for a few more cherry tomatoes. But eventually the rains fall, the checklist dwindles down to this last task, and the shelter of the greenhouse beckons me to venture out to complete it.
The dramatic swings in weather moods are one of the things I love best about autumn. Just when I hunker down indoors, thinking we're in for an all day deluge, the sky lightens, the clouds part, and the sun's rays stream down for another chance to head outside to continue putting the garden to rest without getting soaked. And so it happened this week, allowing me to sow cover crop seed that I was fortunate enough to procure at this late date from a kind hearted farmer friend. Thanks Krista!
This pattern was repeated again yesterday, as I tracked down some planting garlic from Inspiration Farm, which I'd always wanted to visit. It was a pleasure to finally meet Brian and to glean a bit of his extensive knowledge of garlic growing and permaculture.
I've saved and planted most of my own garlic seed for years, but my crop was infected with rust this year, so to be on the safe side, I decided to start over again.
Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll get another sunny break for planting it.