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Bedtime for the Garden

Posted Sep 30 2011 12:48pm

by kiwilog

In Pennsylvania, autumn usually brings crisp days and clear nights, but so far we’ve had nothing but rain. My 3-year-old said it best when she said: “I think the rain is stuck.”

As far as the garden goes, the best thing to do now is start the .

My fall clean up is essentially clearing the garden of all plant debris from the summer, pulling any weeds, and picking up any fruit that has fallen from the plants. I add these to the compost pile, excluding any diseased plants or weeds with seeds.

Once my garden beds are cleared, it’s time for some . I cover up any bare earth with a thick mix of straw and fallen leaves. This keeps my soil thriving throughout the winter. In spring, the soil will be moist, relatively loose, and teeming with earthworms. A few turns with a soil fork and I’m ready to plant again.

Once my garden is put to bed for the fall, I can kick back and revel in the fact that I’ve done something important for myself and my family. There is a sense of accomplishment that comes from having grown my own food. It connects me to the nature of things almost more than anything else you can do in this world.

So when I bite into one of those I made with cucumbers from the garden, I knowwith absolute certaintywhere that cucumber came from. It’s important to know where my food comes from. And it’s important for me as parent to teach my children where our food comes from, and how much work goes into it.

As the food philosopher and poet writes, “Eating is an agricultural act. Eating ends the annual drama of the food economy that begins with planting and birth.” I want my kids to know that food doesn’t just magically appear at the grocery store.

By tending a garden with my daughter, I feel that I become a better parent, that I am equipping her with knowledge that will stay with her throughout her entire life. And hopefully she’ll grow up to be a part of the change our world needs.

I know our gardening is having an effect. Last week she named all the members of our immediate family: “Mommy, Daddy, me, my baby sister, our dog, our two cats, and our lovely garden.”

-Eric Hurlock is the online editor at Organic Gardening magazine. He lives and gardens in Chester County, PA, with his wife, daughter, and new baby. Follow his Real World Gardener blog at http://organicgardening.com/blogs/realworldgardener .

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