Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Of Cabbages and Things

As the garden winds down preparing for winter sleep; the oak and beech around us begin to drop their leaves, floating ever so quietly, blanketing the ground. The dogwood trees are especially lovely, their leaves turning a beautiful purple, fading to red and finishing so slowly they cling until they can hold no more. Their red berries have been snached away by squirrels, chipmunk and crows so it's usefulness in our garden landscape serves many purposes.

This is my favourite time of year. The robust earthy smells of composting, the crisp cool air reminding us winter is but weeks away, the hurt your eyes blue sky that only autumn seems to display and often, days full of the sound of wind and rain..."time to sleep, time to sleep".
Over the years we've noticed how much more purple we see in the garden especially this time of year. Purple Cabbage is one vegetable garden plant that has not performed really well in the past, and yet other brassicas do alright. But I couldn't resist a few six packs of transplants last spring and in they went. Was the secret this year, a long wet winter and short spring? The result has been a grand harvest.
We forgot how crisp and sweet, cabbage can be when it has been touched by frost, and shredded for slaw or braised with apples, sultanas and malt vinegar. A sprinkling of caraway seed is a nice addition.
Even on overcast days, the autumn colors glow; a good time to re-evaluate the bones of the garden. This year, we've made some tough decisions about what should go and what should stay. As I prepared to put my bulbs in, I felt I had lost my initial vision of a perennial bed surrounding the veg garden. Grasses had morphed into monsters, baptisias were failing, bee balm that is work year after year and this year, totally out of control....needed attending. So while the weather holds time to get the shovel, rake and barrow out, and get dirty. Well, at least there will be a nice rustic cabbage soup waiting for me after a long day if I make it before I go out ;-).