28 Nov 2013

Shhhh Mother is Sleeping

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I heard this phrase growing up, usually from my dad, when mom was grabbing some well deserved rest from her rigorous job of tending to seven kids.  As analogies go, this one serves a purpose for me in the winter.  As a gardener, I have closely watched the seasons come and go and liken them to many states of human or animal life patterns.  Winter, for example, seems like night to me for the plants and animals that exist around us.  We are in the night of natures seasons and it is incumbent upon the stewards of the land we work to not disturb the sleeping mother.  By this, I mean try not to tread on the soil; do not water; and do not feed.

The ways in which we treat the garden, that is at rest, is by doing very little whilst still making it cosy and comfortable in order for it to get the rest that it so badly needs after the energy it has given to the vigorous summer production.  There are several ways to do this starting with absolutely nothing to disturb the bed in which the garden sleeps peacefully, awaking with enough energy in spring.

Second, I personally do not like to get rid of anything that grows in the garden (even noxious weeds) but simply prefer to help process the debris and decaying matter in order to recycle it back into the soil.  This may be causing some consternation right now as you read the blog! Weeds like Bindweed, sometimes referred to as morning glory, can seem to be so successful  and invasive that you feel compelled to get it as far away from your garden as is possible. Also, you may be thinking about weed seeds and how best to stop them re-emerging.  With root or Rhizome matter, you have successfully removed and never want to see again, simply put them in a black plastic bag or a sealed container till they are so rotten they have nothing left in them. Then when the spring hits you will have organic compost without the problem of re-emergence.  As for seeds, well it is simply our job as a gardeners to get them as they show up in the spring. I promise they won’t stand vigorous hoeing.

Lastly, there is the never ending chore of keeping the leaves tidied.  I say mulch, mulch mulch. Leaf mold, as they call it in Britain, is one of the foremost nutrient rich blankets that can be used on the soil.  The coverage alone keeps the top of the soil a couple of degrees above freezing and the general breakdown during the elements of a winter should give the garden its breakfast when it awakes to the spring.

One more thing, the more you tread on the soil now the more damage you may do.  There are so many actions still going on through the winter dormancy that the soil should be left to be broken down by natural process, rather than physical manhandling.  Have a nice rest from all of your labours and enjoy the harvest this thanksgiving.


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