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Kip Anderson
Gardener Kip Anderson

September: The Calm Before the Harvest

In the cool of September, Kip takes a breather and finishes up some last to-dos before facing the fall harvest ahead
by Kip Anderson

Come September, it is safe to say another corner has been turned. Gone are the sweltering heat and the long days of preparation for the season's most important harvest. It's time to take a breather — but just a short one. By now the bulk of the tomatoes have been canned, the freezer is loaded with green beans and summer squash, and the culinary herbs hang drying in fragrant bundles. I think I'll sit back in my chair and enjoy one of the cucumbers I providently pickled inside the crock of brine at the back of the refrigerator.

About the only things left to do in the vegetable garden before the October harvest are: set out the last lettuce seedlings that were started in mid-August; sow a crop of late spinach; and plant garlic bulbs (selected for size from the heads harvested last month) that will reach maturity next summer. It's time to read a book, or perhaps assemble the copious (really?) notes written down over the summer that will help when it comes time to order new seeds this winter.

FARMER,

Unpack the dormant forces quiet days
Have put aside and stoke the smothered fire
Whose soot fanned out in lifeless carbon rays
Upon the hearth of winter's mild repose,
But bear the fire within — long days require
A bolder stroke. The spring comes to a close,
And summer spawns a host from Hell's own choir:
The heat, the blistered dawns, the gnash of hoes.

Though all the pressing needs were ably met
From solstice to the fall, do not repair
Too quickly to the lavish table set
For hero's welcome. Many things remain
Undone: the harvest of next winter's fare,
The nurture owed the very kind terrain
That fosters life, the praise of freshened air
And all-sustaining sun, and prayers for rain.

— C. B. Anderson

By the way, September is the ideal month for starting a new lawn, because the air is cool and rain is usually abundant. It's also a good month for digging up and moving any conifers you somehow managed to plant in the wrong location.

Kip Anderson has been the Victory Garden's head gardener for over 20 years.

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Published August 31, 2007