The fall spinach and favas never came up. Sometimes that happens. You try something, and nothing comes of it. And so what do you do? Look at the bare soil? Maybe for a bit. Then look at something else.
The quince tree I planted a few years ago bore for the first time- three big fruits with fuzzy skin. They're on the sill in the dining room, and you can pick them up one by one and put your nose to them. The scent is a joy, and they've also been a joy to see, from papery blossom to big yellow knobs. The trees are small and lovely, so I ordered a second one to put in next spring- a Turkish variety called Ekmek. Maybe something will come of it.
The weather has turned cool and wet. I'm indoors more, but there's plenty of parsley, beets, radishes, and sugarloaf chicory out there. Sugarloaf chicory sounds sweet, but chicory is chicory. There's a reason most people don't grow it. Maybe as the weather turns colder, the leaves will grow milder and my tastes will turn toward the bitter. We'll have to wait and see.
It's been a warm October. The oaks are all still bright green. Today was warm enough to lay in the garden and read, but I miss all the birds and insects that were here in summer. After reading, I harvested some beets and winter radishes. The radishes are spicier than I thought they'd be; my intention for them is the fermentation jar. But I intend a lot of things. There are two cabbages on my counter that have been waiting a week to be turned into kraut, a roasted pumpkin in my fridge that I intended to puree. I only have so much to give every day, and that's enough.
Most of the radishes are not beautiful. Why did some crack like this, I wonder? Trying new things is interesting and humbling.
The twig-like Illinois Everbearing mulberry now a small tree with big leaves. Under one of them, I found this pumpkin that climbed the fence. Gardens are full of surprises. I was in a very feral and loved unmown yard last week and almost stepped on a gorgeous crop of chanterelle mushrooms. Good things happen whether we demand them to or not.
In the vegetable garden, I'm experimenting with overwintering fava beans. Success seems unlikely- favas aren't known for extreme winter hardiness, and I never have much luck germinating fall crops. But it's always rewarding to learn more about plants I love, and I do love fava plants. The little beans called Sweet Lorane are supposed to be hardy down to 0 degrees. Maybe with a thick blanket of leaves and a mild winter, they'll do alright? Right now I'm just waiting for them to sprout. That could be enough for me: those strong matte-green leaves
Watering may be part of my problem with fall crops. I'm trying to do better. Yesterday I almost forgot my favas, but I watered at dusk when the tobacco was starting to blow its scent around. I'm told that smell is supposed to attract night insects, but the moths I saw were all on the zinnias. Why the zinnias? I'd like to learn more about moths, but we keep different hours. In Wildwood, Roger Deakin writes about a night with the Essex Moth Group, who attract the insect using a mercury lamp and egg cartons. He says no one knows why they are attracted to light- maybe moths are oriented by the moon and stars?
Right now I'm reading a book about ravens. On nice days, I often like to read on the bench in the vegetable garden, but today I hurt my back, so I laid down on the mulch beside it instead. My head was half in the leek and kale bed- one of the less sweet-smelling parts of the garden- but it was still a nice place to read. A friend today said it feels good to be dirty because it makes you feel like you can do things. I know what he means.
This summer, the mulberry tree was growing into the garden fence, so I tied a weighted string around its trunk to bend it. The trunk has already swallowed up the string, but it kept that interesting arc. We'll see which direction it goes next year. Some of us grow fast, some grow slow.