This is the start of a series of blogs to highlight gardening priorities through the seasons of the year, and how we can learn from these for our own resilience and wellbeing. This blog covers the period from mid-October to the end of December.
Although the weather is getting darker and colder, this should be an enjoyable part of the gardener’s year. It’s a time of completions and beginnings, when the pace of physical activity slows down. November 1st also marks the beginning of the Celtic year, which is appropriate given how this time fits in the annual cultivation cycle. So, let’s look at seasonal gardening tasks, and what we can learn from them.
Depending on your crops, you may be gathering in till the end of the year: for example, apples, parsnips, leeks. This is also the time for processing and preserving: for example, freezing fruit, making jam. We had a bumper yield of tomatoes, so Linda made passata for freezing. It’s useful to see the harvest as having several stages: picking, processing, storing, and celebrating.
Where are the human analogies? We’re often so focussed on output that we forget to celebrate success, process our harvest, and lay up stores for the winter. With pandemic restrictions, the emotional stress of this winter could be considerable, and that’s why we need to use our harvest to nourish us: for example, by savouring happy memories of the summer, valuing the resilience we’ve learned, and appreciating ourselves and our blessings.
This is the season for clearing out beds, and applying compost or manure that can rot down over the winter to provide fertile ground for planting next spring. This kind of maintenance is something people often overlook, and it’s best done patiently, and well before your next growth season. This could mean facing and clearing difficulties with other people, and looking at your own resources to ensure they are replenished.
In the autumn, there are various new crops to be sown. Some are to overwinter and harvest, such as broad beans and onions. Some are fast-growing, and mature by winter time, for example lettuce and herbs. For people, see this as seeding new initiatives which are not too demanding on your resources, and give you the benefits of some creative output. And imagine what intentions you’d like to seed in this darkening time of the year that can germinate through the winter and provide your spring growth.