The reality is back-straining work.
With clippers and pocket knife in hand last week, my husband, Kevin, and I set out to the garden.
I snipped the twine from the once beautifully abundant tomatoes, loosened the unruly vines from their support rings and pulled up their trailing roots. The rings went into one pile, the wooden stakes into another and the PVC supports into a third. Then the diseased vegetative mess went into the trash.
It’s troubling to toss what could easily be composted, but septoria leaf spot and fungal blights are too destructive to risk letting them linger on the property.
After I removed all 25, Kevin gathered up the rings, stakes and PVC and stowed them in the basement.
So much for the tomatoes.
Next we removed the remains of peppers, snap beans, dried beans, soybeans, cucumbers, herbs, zucchini, winter squash, bok choy and tomatillos. We also bid adieu to the marigolds and dahlia.
All that former greenery Kevin hauled, wheelbarrow-load after wheelbarrow-load, to the backyard. Our two, huge compost bins are now overflowing with twisted, withered stems, but some rain and Indian summer heat should soon reduce the jungle to manageable levels.
After a lunch break, we cleaned and stored the pea fence, cucumber trellis and bean supports in the shed.
Next we raked up any fallen fruit to minimize volunteers next season. (I may rejoice over “freebie” cilantro, but I tend to curse the tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers that try to crowd freshly seeded beds.)
All that bare soil, of course, led to a bout of hoeing weeds and digging flower bulbs for transplanting.
With the day almost over, we assessed the health of perennial berries — honey berries, gooseberries, aronias, blueberries, black currants and huckleberries — and marveled at the growth on the almond tree (that has yet to produce fruit, but we eagerly await fighting the squirrels for its bounty).
Then we checked on the broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, celeriac and rutabaga. The Swiss chard, too, is still going strong. Frost only makes these hardy specimens sweeter, so there are more weeks of harvesting ahead.
Our muscles sore and aching, we decided to call it a day, knowing full well we face another round once the fall crops give up the ghost.
Later in the week, when we were running errands, we drove by someone else’s garden that had been completely cleared of summer’s growth and neatly covered with shredded leaves. It looked so peaceful.