Fall is a great time to reflect on the garden season. Here in West-Central Wisconsin, the leaves haven’t started to turn, daytime temperatures are still in the 70s (Fahrenheit), and gardens are still producing delectables such as kale, tomatoes, peppers, and squash. Even though I don’t have a vegetable garden I’m still receiving these amazing gifts from fellow gardeners.
I can still feel the shift – the slow down. I wrote about this in my last blog “plants as time keepers” here.
My garden harvest was minimal this year, though the desire is strong to reflect back on the growing season.
Reflection seems easier when things slow down.
This is the slow down season. When gardens are ebbing like a puddle drying up. Slowly receding, the form still visible, function still viable until there is no more.
This is the slow down season as the sunlight waves farwell earlier and earlier; cooler temperatures discourage beach excursions; and the desire to explore the garden dwindles with the retreat of magnificent green growing things and bursting blooms.
The reason my garden harvest was minimal this year was because my family was on the hunt for a new home. The move would be anytime from spring to late summer. I couldn’t justify adding in new transplants or seeds. Containers were the only way for me to maintain and MOVE a garden.
I began to prepare early by digging up plants as they sprouted through the ground in spring, one flowering perennial here and one herb there. By the time moving day came I had 38 containers. I did grow one vegetable which was a tomato plant from a fellow gardener. And I bought a couple annuals for a splash of color (I couldn’t resist the purple petunias!).
My former garden with containers scattered about to catch the sun.
Some of my herbs were VERY happy in the containers which was evident by double and sometimes tripling in size compared to their in-ground home of past years. The plants that did the best were – boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), lemon thyme (Thymus x citriodus), echinacea, and balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus). Even with this full, lush growth I barely harvested, if at all. This was due to several reasons:
Removing a plant from the soil can cause transplant shock. This is due to many reasons such as injury to the roots as they’re pulled from their well established homes. The removal process causes tears and ripping which creates open wounds and easy access for diseases and insects to enter for a delicious snack.
If the root system is reduced in size it’s possible the remaining roots won’t have the capacity to support the above ground plant organs. As the plant grew above ground, so did the root system to match the water and nutrient needs.
Even with my careful attention to digging out the biggest root ball possible to minimize disturbing the roots, the plants had to acclimate to new space restrictions, temperature and water fluctuations. The plant is now diverted energy and resources to repair wounds, create new roots, fight off invaders, learn the new environment. It really doesn’t need me to be plucking away creating more injury sites and metabolic changes.
I just wanted the plants to get established in the containers because I would soon move them again – out of the container and into the ground.
Plants on the moving truck getting ready to meet their new home
Our 998 square foot of living space was tight on a normal day.
Then add in my Excalibur food dehydrator, hanging herbs on walls, and herbal remedies concocting on the countertop and the space shrinks again.
The house was packed up for showings, inspections, assessments, and small home improvements. It was like a Jenga game just to keep track of which box had a needed item. No need to add my herbal puzzle to the mix as well.
Even though our house sold within 48 hours, the amount of time devoted to finding another house was a full-time J-O-B. Wow! I didn’t know it would be a race to out find, out schedule, out-bid other buyers. But, the housing market is wild right now. Something like 50% fewer homes on the market than last year.
THEN, after an accepted offer the other full-time job came into light – paper documentation, digital signatures, amendments, phone calls, texts, emails, digging, packing some more, sorting, purging . . . OMG could someone book a garden vacation for me?!
Harvesting and monitoring drying herbs would have taken time as well as organizing them into jars, labeling contents, and then adding them to the 575 boxes already packed. No thank you! I love my herbs and I love sleeping eight hours a day too.
As I look back on the growing season I’m so glad I didn’t have vegetables to tend to and harvest. Especially since the perennial and herbs grew bigger and bigger as the summer went on. They required daily watering and sometimes more with the humid summer heat reaching into the 90s (Fahrenheit) for weeks on end.
The roots began to find ways out of the drainage holes and into the ground. I periodically moved or shifted the large containers so I wouldn’t have to wrestle the escaped roots back out of the ground on moving day.
I was a bit sad not to have a vegetable garden; harvest large batches of herbs; create new herbal remedies; and I didn’t participate in the shared herbal community garden like I did last year. Sometimes that happens. The ebb and flow of life, herbal adventures, plant priestessing feels like it takes a back seat. It’s always there though. Just not at the level I want it to be. I knew the ebb was temporary.
I don’t have to DO more to FEEL my essence – gardening, synchronizing with nature, priestessing, and more. I don’t have to HAVE more to BE me.
As I reflect back on the growing season. I’m reminded once again that . . .
I have enough.
I do enough.
I am enough.
There is enough.
What have you learned this growing season?
Have you ever moved a garden?
If you love the FEEL of fall equinox consider creating a personalized celebration using the Fall Equinox Planning Pages. I’ll send you the first three pages of the Planning Pages through email when you register here: https://bit.ly/3mWHniu
About the author
Erin LaFaive is an herbalist and Plant Priestess with Full Circle Herbals.
“I came about the name Full Circle Herbals because I like all aspects of herbs from growing, harvesting, using, preserving, teaching, and creating.
Some people like growing herbs, others would rather purchase herbs to make remedies and crafts. Some people like teaching about herbs more than growing them. I like all of it! From seed to soil, to body, mind, and spirit.
That’s what you’ll find here ~ teaching, making, growing, seed saving . . . the Full Circle of herbs.