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Saturday essay: Transitions

| Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

Real fall arrived this week with that telltale whoosh bearing the scents of the winter to come. And while the winds that conveyed the chill signaled the inevitable transition long overdue, it is a transition far from complete.

The bumper autumn harvest of raised-bed lettuces and arugula continues. But their thinning ranks and the specter of a first heavy frost mark their days.

The fall peas finally have flowered. Hardy as they are, they might just produce enough green pearls for a few stews or soups. But even if they don't, the nitrogen they've left in the soil is worth their weight in gold.

As soon as the frosts have taken all, clear plastic sheets will be stapled down to facilitate “sunitizing” of the beds ravaged by early blight.

Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, the pepper plants that have been producing prodigiously for six months are wooded, wilted and spent. With a quite modest amount of heat, the extra greens and peas and herbs therein should add a real touch of freshness to the holiday dinner table.

But as the deep cold of January forces dormancy on even the greenhouse, the gardener will be spied in an upstairs window — illuminated by the glow of a single light, hunched over the seed catalogs — dreaming of another growing season set to bow long before the winter wanes, the spring waxes and the grackles return.

—Colin McNickle

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