And just like that, it’s fall. Wow.
As a vegetable gardener, I am usually raring to go in spring, pruning and tweaking in summer, and harvesting in the fall. This year I go t a late start. I don’t know about you, but I don’t even remember spring — and I can’t recall any of February.
The pandemic and quarantine have made an interesting collage (or should I say collision) of the months and seasons for most of us. I must stop to remember what day it is sometimes, let alone the week of the month, or the month itself. And now it is October. Funny thing is, I could always feel the arrival of autumn, even in “seasonless” southern California. The slant of the light changed, the winds carrying foreboding of the fire season. The air was cooler, a bit softer, less punctuated with birdsong. This year it seems to all have become just “2020” replete with completely new protocols for just living our lives.
But, in the garden, you know what season it is. Even now. As a gardener with the College Area Community Garden (CACG) for five years now, I have observed the regular pattern of spring, summer, fall and winter; providing some rhythm, some comfort in the passing of time. Mother Nature does not pay attention to the dimensions of living with COVID-19. She produces lettuce, peas and carrots in spring, tomatoes, squash and peppers in summer and reminds us to harvest in fall. It’s all there, going on without upheaval in the garden. The butterflies and birds migrate through as usual, the plants respond, the soil changes from lush and damp to dry and a bit tired. There is predictability and solace in the garden.
So, I harvest my fabulous eggplants and squashes, and look ahead for winter. Yes, even winter will come. I take these next couple of months to amend my soil for spring and anticipate new planting in 2021. I cannot wait.
At CACG, all is in place to keep our gardeners, our gardens, and our pollinating birds, bees and butterflies engaged. We have everything we need: growing, harvesting and maintenance supplies and materials, ingredients for new soil preparation, all the appropriate safety and security measures in place for us to safely plant, harvest, grow and share. It truly is a haven for creativity, community and life in these weird times.
Some of the wonderful specific amenities offered by the CACG include: sage advice from team leaders as well as additional assistance as needed at collegeareagarden.org, the garden’s updated website. In addition, there is onsite availability of just about anything gardeners need like hand tools, wheelbarrows, organic fertilizers, organic pest control materials, site produced rich compost, a water bottle filler for cool filtered water; hand and tool sanitation stations with instructions and, very importantly, an atmosphere of calm and loving care that makes this garden an oasis in today’s uncertain times. All this for an exceptionally low yearly lease fee.
My suggestion for the end of 2020 is a simple measure to instill more hope and joy in your life. Become a gardener at the CACG. Engage the other gardeners, exchange information, learn, experiment, and do an amazing thing: grow food.
—Robin Clarke is a freelance writer and has been with the College Area Community Garden for over five years where she volunteers and leases a veggie growing box.