The End of Days

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Over the weekend I stuck my head out of my hermit den long enough to notice that winter is coming. All of the signs are there, I’ve just been pretending not to see them. The first and most obvious being that it is cold. We haven’t turned on the heat yet but it’s getting there. The days are getting shorter, the trees are turning colour, squashes are showing up at all the corner shops, and the plants are dying back. And so, because I can’t go on putting it off and pretending that the world has stood still around me while I race towards the finish line with a big project, I spent some time over the weekend doing something about it. The biggest job I tackled was to empty out all of the terra cotta and ceramic pots, scrub them clean and then put them all away. Except for the pile that are still sitting on the kitchen floor. I don’t know where to put those yet. Seems that I acquired a few too many new containers this year and have reached beyond maximum capacity.

I had managed to take in the sensitive plants before the frost hit, however, this portion of garden cleanup is just as critical and had to be done sooner rather than later. Last year I put it off until it was too late and ended up rushing everything indoors at the last possible second, setting several pots of frozen soil in my “living room” to thaw. I must have the most patient partner in the world. I don’t think he complained about it even once. But letting it happen again would be taking advantage of his tolerance and patience. And kind of ridiculous if not impossible since we managed to squeeze a small couch into the living room this year leaving no space for frozen pots of soil.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

The roof garden, August 4, 2008.

Yesterday evening, while doing some photo work, I came upon pictures I took of the roof garden during the summer months. Looking at the pictures hurt, causing an ache and longing for the garden even though it isn’t even done yet. I just hate this time of year. While I have come to appreciate the look of the garden as it decays and goes dormant I just dread knowing that I am about to enter a period of dormancy myself. That for the next 4 months or so I will only have the indoor plants to keep me going. I miss being outside in the garden. I miss the warm air and the smells. I miss touching the plants. I miss waiting for the tomatoes to ripen. I miss my dirty fingernails. I miss all of it. I even miss the difficult work.

Anyways, I think it’s about time I announced that I probably won’t be posting here for the next few weeks. I’m in the final throws of finishing the first big stage of this project and the schedule has been so demanding over the last few months that it’s been impossible to keep up. I think it’s been fairly evident for some time now considering how little I have posted here in the last while. I’ve put off saying anything about it because I keep telling myself that maybe I will have a moment but I have been kidding no one but myself. When I have a moment I want to spend it resting. The brain and the body are weary. So very weary. I might duck in to post a Daily Botanical. I’m going through a lot of photos and taking stock and often run into something that I had forgotten about. I’ll be fully back eventually, once I’m done this leg of things and my mind and body has had a chance to come down from the mania of it.

In the meantime, happy gardening.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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18 thoughts on “The End of Days

  1. Hi Gayla: Thamks for the good read over the Summer of 2008. Looking forward to next year. Have a good one from Donald

  2. When you get a chance, can you tell us what you use to scrub your pots? …Maybe you’ve already posted about it in the archives and I’ve missed it…? I’ll check the forums, too.

    See you again in a few weeks!

  3. Makes me very glad I live where theres such a long growing season! Though we, too, see an end of summer growing, as summer plants cease producing and go dormant and some just die off entirely. All my tomato plants and pepper plants go dormant and have to be ripped up to make space for lettuce and cucumbers. Its very melancholy to see my tomatos go the way of the dodos, but exciting, too, because I know that I get to see lettuce again. And cucumbers are great, as soon as the sun cools down enough that the vines won’t fry. Most of the time, we wont have a threat of frost until late november. Some years we dont freeze at all, but following those years, we tend to have horrible disease and pests in the gardens and have to limit what we grow to very tolerant varieties.

  4. Ciao Gayla-

    I’ll miss your posts but I’m very excited to hear about your project when you get it done. Take care and rest when you can.

  5. Your roof garden is truly inspiring! I garden in some large raised beds and my tomatoes are hit and miss with so many variables like extreme heat, drought, etc. – some years bountiful and some years poor. I have some friends who run an herb farm and grow tomatoes in “Earthboxes” with great success. Are you familiar with these?

  6. Yeah, it was supposed to frost last night we ran around in the dark grabbing all the last tomatoes and squash, and chopping down the chard. I spent all morning washing the dirt and snails of it (they seem to really like it) and cooking it down so that I can freeze it – only to remember I have no zip-lock bags left. Darn.

    I still have to repot my herbs – and now that they’re indoors I need to get some kind of tray for them so I don’t have to move them to the sink everytime I water them.

    And the neighbor we share a plot with has already cleaned up his vegetable plot, making my overgrown tangle of squashes and tomatoes look pretty sad in comparison.

    Man, with all the rain we got this summer I thought gardening was soooooo easy. Now all of a sudden there’s all this work!

  7. I have such mixed emotions about this time of year. I’m sad because gardening season is ending, but I love change; especially changing seasons, and fall is great for making a big show about it.

    Good luck with your project! Can’t wait to find out more.

  8. I got a head start on my gardens and pots this year. We have had a couple of very heavy frosts, which I have documented on my blog. After pouring rain all day yesterday (south eastern Ontario) I worked outside this morning and prepared a few of my winter greenery pots.
    Hope you got all your pots cleaned and stored away for winter.

  9. I feel you Gayla, I miss all of those things too…I’m going through withdraw trying to buy as many plants as I can right now that will overwinter with me.

  10. We had a frost scare a couple of weekends ago, and I brought all of the tender plants in. It made me sad in a way, but I so love fall and all the colors. Spring will be here soon enough, and we’ll be lamenting the end of the planning season. :)

  11. I’ve been harvesting seeds and my hibiscus has already found early refuge in my living room. Looking forward to hearing more about your winter projects.

  12. I grew up near Philly and always hated the winters, and that was before I was a serious gardener. I made the move to California almost 20 years ago, and I’m especially grateful at this time of year for living in a mild climate. Our growing season has ended, but I still have Epidendrum orchids and passionflowers blooming outside. But even San Francisco gets too cold and dark for me in the winter, so don’t be surprised if someday I’m writing from Hawaii!

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