The temperatures are definitely cooler and much more Fall-like on a permanent basis, but as I wrote this, I was looking out the door of the deli I was sitting in, and someone was walking around on the sidewalk in shorts. Mid-October in Iowa, and people are still wearing shorts.
It’s bizarre, and it has led to this continued tomato harvest long after I was mentally prepared to have fresh tomatoes available. However, the plants have been dying off at their normal pace, which meant when I went out to the garden on Saturday afternoon, I faced a row of brown and ugly tomato plants with bright red and yellow fruit hanging all over them.
Even worse, one or two of the plants still had signs of life toward the tops of the plants (although the bottoms…wow…brown-plant city…), and even sported new tomato flowers. New tomato flowers in mid-October? In Iowa?
Enough already. I had a trip to go on, and decided the time had come to just call it a season. It was time to strip the last of the tomatoes, come up with a plan to put them to use, and get the plants out of their pots so I could get my Fall garden clean-up truly underway.
It’s always sad to clean up the garden, but this year, I found myself getting particularly melancholy as I clipped back branches and unwound them from each other. I thought back to the day I planted the tomato plants, the people who helped me, and how even though, on that day, I knew things were radically changing in my life, I had no idea how different they would be from the time I planted the tomatoes until I took them out and prepared for winter.
It was almost five months to the day between planting and cleaning up, and if those two days were bookends, they wouldn’t match at all. I found myself already thinking about next season, and how different it would be to prepare and plant the garden the next time around. This year, I’ve harvested so much. I have no doubt that next season will be even more spectacular.