Now that summer is past, we begin the work of preparing our garden for cold months ahead; we have been removing plants whose seasons are over, cherishing the last couple of cucumbers and ripe tomatoes. In the places where it was once difficult to even catch a glimpse of the soil underneath all of the summer growth, we now work the soil and begin planting from seed once again, this time focusing on cool weather crops, like carrots, parsnips, kale, and spinach. As we work the wet soil, we are finding more and more of the earthworms and slugs that captured our interest all winter long as we tipped stumps and dug around in the garden hoping to find these creatures so we could observe and investigate them.
I love this time of year and with the children of Cohort 7 & 9 now between the ages of two and three, I love noticing how strong their memories are of the late spring and summer stages in our garden. We can now tell stories to remind ourselves of how we worked the soil in the spring, planting all sorts of seeds and writing on little wooden markers to remind ourselves of all the plants we could look forward to tending. Together we remember our work party in May, when many of the Infant House families generously contributed plants for our early summer planting, which have thrived all summer long and have been important staples for us (this group loves basil!). As we clear out dead tomato, cucumber, and zucchini plants, we recall how bountiful these were during their prime, allowing us to harvest, eat, and celebrate together. And as we plant tiny seeds alongside plants that are still looming tall in our garden, like our cauliflower and broccoli, we talk about how amazing it is that these seeds will sprout and might one day be just as big.
The fall season gives a sense of coming full circle, which feels bittersweet, but also incredibly satisfying after a summer of learning and growing together, working alongside each other to care for a space that we all love. We feel sad that the green tomatoes left won't be ripening like the ones that came before them, but it helps us to appreciate the long, hot months of summer and encourages us to notice all sorts of other changes that come with the shifting seasons. We look forward to fall and winter, knowing that the strong relationship we have with our garden will take on new meaning as the leaves keep falling, the rain starts, and eventually cold, icy days greet us when we step outside of the classroom.