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By Dave Coulter
Yesterday E and I finally got around to seasonal task of tucking the vegetable gardens away for the winter. Winter seems distant still. To date, we have barely had any snow, and our days are as pleasant as they can be for mid-November in the mid-west. And we're dry too. A scan of the US Drought Monitor website confirms we're still drier than normal.
But the dry makes for easier yard work. All of the vegetables were done, so the chicken wire fences can be un-done and the various wooden stakes and fence posts can be piled off to the side. What few tomatoes remained were the orphans that never quite grew their way off the vine. Frozen, once green, the slowly browning orbs clung to desiccated beige stems that had for the most part flopped over.
It's tedious work undoing the low garden fences, and the skinny chicken wire has sharp ends that pierce fingertips. Sisal twine, now weathered and grey is cut away and left with the maple leaves that have been raked atop the gardens to break down during winter. One of the dogs finds one such leaf pile in the now un-fenced gardens much to her liking, and she settles in to watch the worker's progress.
A hoe is swung to chop and dispatch the clutter of dead tomato vines, which are then stamped down, more leaves raked on top. The squash and peppers are but pleasant memories now. We will surely recall the random successes and failures of the garden year. Blue potatoes, an impulse purchase, did surprisingly well in spite of limited space and sunlight not to mention the drought year. Radishes, like the Lima beans of 2011 did not flourish, leaving us to question the quality of the seeds, or our skills, in about that order.
The little herb garden still had something to offer. The big prize was a fennel root that E excavated and cleaned. I have no idea what will become of this, but I do know that there are sprigs of sage that will somehow find their way to Thanksgiving. We clipped about a half dozen small dried sunflower seed heads that had persisted, and tied them to a length of the old twine salvaged from the tomato quadrant.
These twined sunflowers were tied to a low maple branch, in close proximity to an old bird feeder that needed to be cleared of cobwebs and filled with fresh birdseed. The other dog staked out a sunny spot against the house. For at least a couple moments she didn't seem to mind sharing her domain with the chickadees that seemingly came out of nowhere to see what was in the feeder.