I love thinning out a garden. I itch to deadhead roses, pull off crumbling leaves, and remove plants gone brittle. Hot weather persists, but the farm is not fooled. It creeps into autumn and many of the vegetable plants have passed into their eternal rest. Thank you, dear friends. You have fed me and mine well.
Most of the squash and cucumbers withered away during the heat of the summer. I miss the raw slices of patty pans and eight ball zucchini for lunch. Likewise the yellow crook neck and pumpkin mixed into a melange with green onion, sprinkled with shredded parmesan, and baked. Tomato plants, either purchased this year or sprang from seeds from previous years, are mostly gone too. I pile up the dry branches weekly and carry armloads to the yard waste bin. Gone are the heirloom Mennonite yellow slicing tomatoes and the red grape and cherries. I’ll plant more Mennonites and beefsteaks next year as I’ve grown fond of roasted tomatoes. I had to pick the bigger ones green or I’d have none of them from the greedy mourning doves and sparrows. No problem. They ripen nicely on the window sill.
I’m sure to have loads of volunteer cherry and grape tomato plants in the spring. The birds tore through them this year too. I’m okay with sharing.
In the middle of these October producers and neighboring marigolds, I found a vine of teperary beans, most were dry, but a few still amazingly green. I harvested the tan ones and spread them on a paper towel, making sure they are truly dry before I add them to my bean jar. Teperary beans are tiny, grey speckled beans. Measured out in teaspoons, they’ll add a shot of protein to soups and pastas on wintry nights.
Harvest festivals, Halloween, and All Souls’ Day aptly mix celebration and mourning, as do I while carrying towering piles of dry tomato branches to the bin.