Happy October! Over the past few years, I’ve come to appreciate October more and more. Up north, where I grew up, autumn brings with it an amazing display of fall color, but also the certain knowledge that some cold, dark months are ahead.
In south Georgia, whose forests are largely dominated by pine, you must search harder for trees that put on a brilliant fall display. But October is when you finally start to get a reprieve from months of heat and humidity, and can fully appreciate being outside again.
I’ve come to look forward to October 1 as an unofficial holiday: Planting Day! Days are shorter, days and nights both are cooling off, soil temperature with them, summer’s insect pests are on their way out, and finally it’s safe to get a new crop of plants in the ground.
We’ve worked hard over the last couple of weeks to get things ready for planting by pulling up summer veggies and amending, tilling, and leveling each planting row. Making a blank slate on which the fall crop will develop. Although getting ready for Planting Day is hard work, the act of actually planting is comparatively easy, even when done by hand. Make a furrow, scatter seed or dig a hole and drop in a seedling, cover it up, water. And wait. Therein, I think, lies the real reason I look forward to Planting Day. Rather than providing instant gratification (other than that of a hard day’s work, well done), patience and additional nurturing is required. Each seed represents a promise for the future, each tender seedling the vibrance of new life. After several weeks or months of watering and weeding, only then is each tiny promise realized, as the individual crops reach maturity. In planting a seed, you’re creating the future you want to have, something all of us do every day, though not always in such literal, intentional ways.
We had a long list of things to get planted this weekend. Lots of greens, including kale, collards, Swiss chard, bok choy, tat soi, and several kinds of lettuce. And many root vegetables like carrots, onions, beets, radishes, and turnips. Also the perennial favorites broccoli and cauliflower. Of course, this meant I got to spend some quality time with our seed collection (one of my favorite pastimes!), sorting, assessing, and selecting packets to plant.
Here’s to a great fall season! I know I’m looking forward to it, and hope you are too. Several of the early crops will be ready to harvest before the month is out! The radishes planted last weekend came up quickly and will be among the first of the fall harvests.