Fall Beginnings

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Author: Patrick Crouch, Earthworks Urban Farm Program/Farm Manager

The weather has been fantastic this last week, which is great because I had almost forgotten what the sun looked like after all the rain we have had. That rain plus the warm weather has made the fungi go into overdrive, telling our Swiss chard, tomatoes and squash to take a hike, and eyeing up the potatoes pretty hard. Its ok, the Swiss Chard we had been steady harvesting on since May and it had given all it had to give. The tomatoes and squash had graced us with thousands of pounds of fruit, I’m not feeling disappointed. I have very little to be disappointed about, we finished the season out strong.  

It wasn’t always that way. We spent the better part of two months with no rain, and hot conditions. We drained the water we had saved out of our rainwater tanks quickly and then we had to survive on municipal water. August got us back, and delivered us a nice amount of rain – and then September reminded us to be careful what you ask for, you just might get it. I don’t know about everyone else, but I spent a lot of time managing water in my basement.  

Fall is here, though I can certainly see why you might not think by the weather. The trees know the deal though, the tips of some of are starting to turn and the locusts trees are fully yellow, looking like chains of golden coins hanging from the branches. The sun is rising later, and setting earlier, and midday sits lower on the horizon. My morning commute often takes my bike and I along the Riverwalk, where I have been savoring that magical light in the first hour of the day.  

While fall is generally seen as the end of the season, it could just as easily be viewed as the beginning (assuming we aren’t thinking about things in a linear way). I prefer to think of it as the beginning – as it helps stave off my winter depression, but it also seems fitting. Fall is the time to clean up everything and get it ready for the new growing season. Fall is the time for planting the first crops of next year’s season, garlic and spinach. Fall is the time for making the food for the garden; compost.

Fall is the best time in my mind for making compost – it makes the primo stuff. Combining all that old vegetable matter from the garden, plus grass clippings plus lots of leaves and moisture from the fall rains and you have the makings of some high quality fertility. Allow this to rumble under a cover of insulating snow for the winter, and next year look forward to breaking that open next spring to reward you in rich earthy compost. I’m getting excited just thinking about it. So this fall as you bag up those leaves, maybe consider making them into compost pile, or leaf mulch. You will be happy come next year that you did. Until next time