Fall…A new beginning in Northern California…

People often say that spring is the beginning of the growing season and a new year, but here, in the Mendocino Range of Northern California, I most certainly believe it to be Fall.  The heat of the summer is finally over, the tall grasses turn brittle and grey, the sunflowers have all dropped their seeds from their towering stalks and the skies open up…the rains start to fall…ahhh….let the, “serious weather,” begin.

Grape Leaf in Autumn
Grape Leaf in Autumn

With the rain comes new life.  I always look forward to the first day that I see the new sprigs of grass emerging and anxiously await the uprising of the local, wild mushrooms.  It is a time when forgotten greens and herbs spring forth.   We light the wood burning stove for the first time and curl up with a bowl of steaming risotto and a glass of local wine and nestle in with the critters to plan the new growing year.  I love Fall, for it is surely a most special time of year.

During this season, there is still plenty of harvesting to do.  This morning, I found one, lone, overlooked cluster of grapes on our vines, glistening from the morning precipitation and begging not to be forgotten.  The tomato vines are laden with fruit and the unpicked apples are now falling to the ground, waiting to be pressed into cider.  Melons are sweetening up, artichokes continue to produce and the black, kale plants have reached waist-height and are loaded with nutritious leaves.  (Much to our chickens delight.) Alas, the pumpkins are on the late side this year, with only a slim possibility of maturing by Halloween.  Ya can’t win them all.

young-pumpkin
Young Pumpkin In November

With autumn also comes some retrospective views.  What worked, what didn’t and why?  Would I plant those Furry Boar, or Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye tomatoes again?  (Most definitely…they’re awesome!)  Do I really need so many sunflowers in the veggie garden next year?  (Nope…they take up too much room and rob nutrients from other crops…however, they ARE beautiful and joyous.)  I MUST make more compost!!!  It’s never too early to start.

Turning to the future, I’m making my preparations.  Today, I ordered more fruit trees and grape vines to plant from my favorite, online, tree and shrub nursery, One Green World, in Oregon.  Tomorrow, I plan to go through some of my coveted seed catalogs to pick out my, “must have,” seeds, even though I still have boxes of unused seeds from the last, few, previous , not to mention my DIY saved seeds.  The women in the family are all planning a trip down to Richmond, to visit Annie’s Annuals & Perennials Nursery.  I’ve even picked out a greenhouse kit to put up this year…a lifelong dream of mine.  The Mantis rototiller needs a tune-up and the hand tools need sharpening and oiling.  And yes, I’ve already started collecting leaves and chicken straw for those compost piles…it’s a never ending task and it’s a new beginning.

So…garden on.  I’ll leave this post short, as I want to just get this blog underway.

~ C