Fall Gardening–I Am Too Old For This!

All of the garden publications this time of year wax poetically about the “joys” of fall gardening. And I think back some 20 plus years to when I first began gardening at this property.

I enthusiastically planted bulbs every fall, completely ignoring the realities of my clay soil and the critters that rampaged over the property. One fall I planted 1300 bulbs, giving myself carpal tunnel that lasted until the following spring! It was delightful. Who says gardening is a “genteel” activity?

I thought about Thomas Jefferson’s quote “Though I am an old man, I am yet a young gardener,” as I was thinking about the garden this morning. It doesn’t matter what the weather is–it can be hot, it can be cold, by about mid-August (just about the time I realize we have no more light in the evening anymore) I am done with the garden. All I want to do is cocoon until next spring.

That doesn’t mean I want to go inside, curl up and read a book (although that’s mighty tempting, I must say!). But I look at the all the house plants that I so willingly and happily transitioned outside in the spring and thing, “Ugh! Must I drag all of these back inside?!” It’s just way too much work.

And I look at the gardens–already putting on their autumn hues as the hydrangeas burnish and the black-eyed susans turn to rust colors–and I think, “Fine. Let the leaves fall and cover everything up until next spring. I’ll be more than ready to deal with it again by then.”

This is one reason why I just do a minimal clean up in the fall–for one thing, it’s better for the gardens. For another, it’s personally better for me as the gardener.

And as for bulbs–well, now I know better. In my heavy clay, they just get diseases and rot. And what doesn’t rot, the critters eat. And I am not one of those who is going to be out there like a madwoman spraying repellents every 30 minutes. That’s not sustainable. So no bulbs anymore, as much as I love them. I’ll just enjoy other people’s bulbs.

2 thoughts on “Fall Gardening–I Am Too Old For This!

  1. Gardenupgeen@gmail.com September 9, 2014 / 1:27 pm

    I do rave about fall gardening – it has more to do with my climate than anything else. We used sand and direct compost to deal with our clay and the results have been fantastic. Course it took about 3 years and a lot of hard work. Carole @ Garden Up green

    • gardendaze September 9, 2014 / 1:45 pm

      Hi Carole,

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Perhaps some of your thoughts will help others. In my first 10 years at this property, I composted religiously every year. I was absolutely befuddled about why it was making no difference (because I knew better than to till it in and disturb the soil tilth).

      So I would religious compost–and I tried it at different times, both spring and fall. I even tried mulching until I realized that in my heavy clay all that did was bring disease and rot. I’ve written about this extensively over my 4 years on this blog.

      What happens to my compost is that is gets blown to the curb with the leaves in the fall–or in the spring, when I do garden clean-up.

      When you’re on bedrock, unless you build raised beds, as I’ve done for my vegetables, there’s very little you can to do retain soil.

      But you’re so right–in the fall, it’s always something. Thanks again for reading and commenting.


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