The Inadvertent Gardener Rotating Header Image

Unmatched bookends

Dead plants, live tomatoesThe 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.

15 Comments on “Unmatched bookends”

  1. #1 Lydia
    on Oct 19th, 2007 at 7:49 am

    Today it is in the 70s in Rhode Island — in mid-October. Truly bizarre. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t been able to bring myself to do garden clean-up yet. The basil has mostly gone, thanks to some cold nights last week, but today, after a few days of warmth and rain, most everything else is still showing signs of life.

  2. #2 Michelle
    on Oct 19th, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Hugs! I feel your pain there. You are a braver woman than I.

  3. #3 Don
    on Oct 19th, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Was that you looking at me through the window when I walked by in my shorts? I switch to long pants when the flakes start flying, and not before.

  4. #4 inadvertentgardener
    on Oct 19th, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Lydia, I kept walking outside into the falling leaves (I’m in Pennsylvania this weekend) today and totally having a disassociative moment because it’s so muggy! Ridiculous.

    Michelle, thanks, chica…I appreciate it. :-)

    Don, you must have warmer legs than I do!

  5. #5 Curtis
    on Oct 19th, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    Kind of looks like mine. I just hate to rip them out. But as you mentioned, I am already looking onto next season and what I will plant.

  6. #6 inadvertentgardener
    on Oct 19th, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    Curtis, there’s something so powerful in that looking ahead — such optimism! :-)

  7. #7 Katiez
    on Oct 20th, 2007 at 11:52 am

    I still have flowers on my beans – I feel like a murderer when I pull them out – oh, and I had a tiny butternut squash just starting.
    A little melencholy at the end of a season/ere is good…looking forward is better. Hell, next year I might even have tomatoes!

  8. #8 John
    on Oct 20th, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    I always find this time of year confusing to travel between hemispheres and with your blog I get to do it without getting on a plane. I just came in from watering a garden full of bursting spring growth in Sydney AUS with a predicted top of what you would call high 80s. Inside, I find you ending the season an looking to winter. I guess seasons are as much geography as time.

  9. #9 inadvertentgardener
    on Oct 21st, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Katiez, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you to have tomatoes next year — that would be terrific!

    John, they definitely are geography AND time. I enjoy getting to read blogs from the other side of the world for just that reason — when we’re winding down, you’re just getting started, which gives me that boost to get through winter!

  10. #10 jennylitchfield
    on Oct 21st, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    I had a similar experience and feelings about my tomatoes in April-May – our late autumn. On this side of the world, we’re looking forward to the annual garden and flower shows.

  11. #11 inadvertentgardener
    on Oct 21st, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Jenny, like I said to John, I love watching the blogs on the other side of the world at this time — that you guys are just getting started is so exciting!

  12. #12 wayne
    on Oct 23rd, 2007 at 5:19 am

    Here in PA I am wondering if we are finally having our last 80 degree day for 2007 and if we will have an October without a frost.

    Yesterday I roasted eggplants and tomatoes from home and at the school I harvested a nice bag of green beans. what your post reminded me of was a student’s response a few years ago when I told her to yank out some bean plants. Her heart made it an impossible task.

  13. #13 inadvertentgardener
    on Oct 23rd, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Wayne, I understand your student’s heart…definitely. Still roasting eggplant from home — delicious!

  14. #14 kate
    on Oct 24th, 2007 at 12:54 am

    I find this time of year rough, and have determinedly set my sights on spring. I don’t do much cleaning of the garden, although that’s often because the snow hides everything. This year, we’ve had early frosts, but no snow … from one year to the next, we never know if children will be wearing their snowsuits and boots with their Hallowe’en costumes.

  15. #15 inadvertentgardener
    on Oct 24th, 2007 at 5:58 am

    Kate, ah…snow hiding things…that’s good from a no-cleanup perspective, but I don’t know what I’d do with permasnow…aargh.

Leave a Comment