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So I finally pulled out the very last possible vegetable out of the garden–the cauliflower, which has quietly grown all year and was too yucky-looking to keep–and removed the stakes and trellises and yanked the big plants and prepared to spread newspaper and mulch. Of course I don’t have the newspaper. Or the mulch. The newspaper was supposed to come from the mothers, and they promised me lots and lots, but they told Eric last week that they only have half a bag. Maybe because I kept forgetting to bring it home with me. And the mulch was supposed to be partly the lawn clippings (and between the falling leaves and Eric not having mown for two months, it was going to be a lot) but he ran out of daylight and stamina and switched to the “mulch” function instead, which means all my lovely mulch is spread across the yard.

So yeah. I’m considering going around on recycling day and collecting people’s newspapers, but you know I really won’t. Same with collecting leaves (though we have leaf pickup by the city here, and I stayed home one morning with a fever and left for work around eleven, and had to drive around an eight-foot-tall pile of leaves at the end of the road) to use in place of mulch. I’m so…so…indifferent. I even got the first seed catalogs a couple of days ago and was only vaguely interested. Partly it’s the baby and related changes in my day, partly it’s the fact that we’re planning to move next year, but still: ugh!

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The little one is sleeping. We went into the garden together today, she and I, with the help of a sling that I’m still getting the hang of. (We decided to try a sling because our friends recommended one, but couldn’t find a satisfactory way to put the baby in it. Now that she can mostly support her own head, it’s becoming much easier.) I picked coriander and a few surprise heads of nigella sativa–I thought I’d seen those flowers earlier in the year, but they disappeared under the cover of the cilantro and sage and weeds in that area–while she looked around at the giant wormwood and the sprawling volunteer tomato plant that my dad unfortunately didn’t pull while he was here.

I’ve requested newspaper and shall be receiving it shortly. The next couple of weeks will be devoted to closing down the garden, which mainly means harvesting what I can of what’s there. That means picking a last round or two of green beans, digging the carrots and parsnips and potatoes (if there are any), cutting herbs for drying and freezing, gathering basil for the summer’s single batch of pesto, making tabbouleh with the parsley. Then pulling out the stakes and trellises, and deciding whether to move the unruly raspberry whose berries don’t seem as good as the ones on the plants in the actual raspberry patch, and then a lot of digging and stomping and spreading and watering and spreading again. The little one and I will also be taking an exploratory trip to Home Depot sometime soon, to price mulch. And then the little one will be spending a weekend at grandma’s while I put this garden into its winter crib.

I picked green beans today. My recommendation for anyone who wants to plant a garden while having a baby is don’t, but as a second option, plant beans. The dry beans did well and these green beans (Kentucky Wonders) are going strong despite zero maintenance on my part–I’ve already got some in the freezer. Admittedly some were a bit stringy because they’d grown so much, but you can’t have everything.

Along with plenty of beans and a couple of carrots, I pulled a bunch of weeds out of the bean patch. If weed-grass seeds were edible (are they?) I’d be feeling guilty about all the grain I’ve wasted this year. In places it seriously looks like I seeded for a new lawn. There are also squashed tomatoes from the volunteers that grew everywhere, and ruined peppers and rotted bean pods. And oh my gods all the weeds.

What this all adds up to is that I’m going to try lasagna gardening this fall. There’s no way to clean up the weed seeds and there’s no way I’ll weed them all out next year and it’s too late to spread black plastic and bake them; the only way out is to bury them. So I’m going to start begging newspaper from the mothers and start thinking about where to buy mulch–I know the city offers it but there’s a five-cubic-yard minimum and a $25 delivery fee and I don’t know how much that would work out to spread over both gardens. Fall leaves will be coming soon, and Eric desperately needs to mow the lawn, so if I keep this in mind I should be able to amend the soil a little, since I can’t currently reach the actual humus at the bottom of my compost pile and I don’t trust it anyway, after this spring’s bumper crop of weeds.

The beans are still producing, and there are still carrots and beets and parsnips in the ground, and some kale and some herbs and one cauliflower plant that sailed right through spring and summer and is only now perking up. But it’s time for things to wind down anyway, and most of the rest of the garden can be tramped down and buried. I’m not sure whether I should start doing so in patches now, or wait and do everything at once–advice would be appreciated. But either way, I’m going to try to bake myself a brand new garden for next year.

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Flowers and even fruit are only the beginning. In the seed lies the life and the future.

Marion Zimmer Bradley

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