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Garden in the City: Putting Our Raised Bed Under Wraps for the Winter

By Patty Wetli | November 4, 2013 11:04am
 As the gardening season comes to a close, thoughts turn to prepping the bed for next year.
Garden in the City: Putting the Bed to Bed
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LINCOLN SQUARE — The poor peas never saw it coming.

Neither frost nor persistent gray skies had deterred the vines from thriving, tendrils clinging mightily to successive trellis rungs as their shoots continued climbing ever upwards.

And then whack! We chopped them off at their metaphorical knees.

Peterson Garden Project had targeted Nov. 4 as the official date to close all of its community gardens for the season. Any gardeners wishing to return in 2014 were asked to clear out their beds over the weekend.

That meant the peas had to go. And the kale. And the chard. And the onions.

We harvested 1.5 pounds of peppers — still green (and the whole banana ripening thing is a scam) — more than three pounds of onions and three pounds of greens. Our refrigerator looks like a Gladware convention.

Oh, and let's not forget, two stalks of Brussels sprouts, which yielded a whopping cup of usable veggies. Guess who's not getting a pass next spring.

So now I finally find myself in possession of the large amounts of produce I'd envisioned reaping weekly back in April. I can make soups! Maybe an onion tart! And, um, soups.

I'm bummed.

Once I made peace with the fact that my strawberry plants weren't ever going to yield enough fruit for shortcake, I stopped trying to impose order on my garden. I gladly accepted whatever it had to offer on any given day — a handful of beans, the occasional cherry tomato, a crown or two of broccoli.

There was always something to harvest courtesy of 2013's power couple — kale and chard — always something growing.

Now it's over and the world is a bleaker place, literally, thanks to Daylight Savings and 5 p.m. sunsets.

We followed Peterson Garden Project's instructions to the letter as we sent our plot into hibernation. "Passive composting," they called it, the first step of which required us to cut all remaining plants off at their roots, leaving the roots in the soil to decompose.

Next we chopped up the excess plant matter and spread it across the bed. We topped that with a layer of brilliant red leaves that had fallen along the garden's fence line from neighboring Ronan Park.

For good measure, we tossed on a couple shovel's worth of mulch and added the last bit of peat we had left over from our earlier "soil amendment" efforts.

We covered all of this with a blanket of landscape cloth, which we secured with scavenged rocks.

I know the point is to prepare the soil for next spring and the new plants that will sprout forth from the enriched earth. Circle of life and all that jazz. Still it felt like a burial.

If there was any satisfaction to be found, it was in one final murderous moment.

As I liberated a group of onions from the bed, I came across the largest, fattest pill bug I'd ever seen. I grabbed my pruning shears and scissored the sucker in half.

"Take that, b*tch!"

See you next spring.