Community Garden: The Fall Garden Waiting Game

I spent the whole summer being amazed at the fervor with which tiny seeds sprang into sunflowers so tall I couldn’t reach the blooms, basil so prolific I’ll eat pesto all winter, and okra stalks so thick I had to saw through them to prepare the soil for something new.

That amazement has turned into a jaw-dropping situation this fall.

Is this what you’re like when you have your first kid? Utterly astonished and fishing for a camera every time it does anything?

A couple of months ago, I adopted an additional empty plot at my community garden, and on the advice from a North Carolina planting guide, I skeptically planted not one but two garden plots. In September. I repeat. September. Where I grew up we often get snow in September.

My skepticism, as usual, was complete lunacy. The freshly-planted plot…

… is now a lush jungle of deliciousness.

Fall in North Carolina has certainly taught me that good things are worth waiting for. Cooler weather comes later, the leaves turn later, the Halloween spirit even hit later.

So now I’m trying to be patient with my little crops, though there is some curiosity I cannot avoid. I keep pulling one carrot stem at a time out of the ground to see if they’re ready (they’re not). I’ve plucked a few pea pods off the plant just to see how big the peas are (they’re tiny). The pods that are mature barely make it off the plant, let alone to my kitchen, before their shells lie limp in my cup holder on the way home from watering.

But I’m scerrrd! What if it freezes?!?! What if all my hard work turns into a frosted trellis of pea shoots and frostbitten greens??

I really should know better. I shouldn’t get so stressed. There’s a reason that Durham can support a lush farmers market all year long. Dedicated growers, yes, but an amenable climate is hugely beneficial.

And so I wait. I wait for the carrots to resemble food more than gnarly roots. I wait for the broccoli to produce more than one floret per plant. I wait to harvest the peas until they’re you know, peas.  I wait till summer to harvest my own garlic (the anticipation may kill me). I wait for the cabbage to form a head before I turn it into Bierocks.

And in the meantime, I’ll enjoy what has finally arrived. And which was definitely worth waiting for.