Last night I turned on the heat in our house for the first time this season. The temperature hovered around 50 all day and when the sun set it plunged to the low 40's, forecast to drop as low as 39; so we needed the heater to take the edge off the chill in the house. And yet, improbably, there were still tomatoes in the garden this morning:
A few ripening Sungolds, as you can see; and many more that are still green. And just as improbably, the zinnias are still blooming:
with lots of buds left to open:
although their foliage is at this point covered with mildew from the cool, wet autumn weather:
What is a gardener to do with these hangers-on from summer? It is undeniably pumpkin season -- in fact, here is a pumpkin muffin I baked yesterday:
Proof positive! But nonetheless, the frost is not yet on the pumpkin in my little urban garden (not that it ever will be, since I have no space to grow pumpkins; but you get the point). There are cherry tomatoes and zinnias and even a few jalapeno peppers, although the chill in the air says to me that they should be long gone. These plants are my babies; I grew them from seed, every last one, starting them in March and April and coddling them under grow lights. Do I nurture them straight through to Halloween, in the hopes that we'll hang on to enough frost-free days that some of them will ripen?
Nah. One of the wicked pleasures of gardening is that you get to be angel of death as well nurturer of life. These plants are past their prime; I am my own horticultural Death Panel. I am done with this summer, and its fruits; and I am now going to obliterate them, destroy them, yank them out by their roots.
I'm icing the tomatoes.
The zinnias sleep with the fishes.
I am ready for the fall, for the chill, and for the winter to follow; for the delights and challenges of the new season. Bring it on.
But wasn't it nice while it lasted?