Fall is a time of mixed emotions for gardeners. I quietly mourn ten months without fresh tomatoes as I pull used-up vines from the ground. But, as I place those vines in the compost and bury garlic cloves in the ground, I’m already planning for next spring. And here in central Ohio, there is still about a month ’til our first frost; plenty of time to grow some salad greens.
As we take down this year’s garden, we consider what we might do differently next year. What worked in its current location? What didn’t? How can we rotate plants around to help keep the soil healthy and strong and to make it easier to harvest our bounty. These are the lessons of Strega Nona’s Harvest (dePaola, 2009).
If you don’t know Strega Nona, you ought to. I wrote about her original story (dePaola, 1975) and it’s relation to the German folk tale “The Magic Porridge Pot” last month. In this story, Strega Nona teaches her young charges all about saving, planting, and tending seeds. While Strega Nona carefully plans and plants her garden, yielding well-ordered rows of fruits and vegetables, Big Anthony just throws his seeds in the ground and winds up with a jungle of bushes and vines. This year, my garden was more like Big Anthony’s and while I don’t much mind so long as my plants produce yummy food, I was already planning to do things differently next year. Reading Strega Nona’s advice just pushed me along.
So, I’m off to make notes in my libro del giardino (garden notebook) and get starting planning for Spring 2014.