Good-bye Old Friend

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
I hate goodbyes, even the ones that are just for a little time. I have never been good at them; they seem so final. It is heartbreaking to have to part with anything or anyone that I really enjoy being with. So this past week, when I had to say good bye to some of my veggie gardens, it was a little sad. I always feel a little like a traitor when I have to go and yank the tomato plants out by their roots (these same plants that just weeks ago brought me so much joy) and to till under all the plants that have been so full of life. I cannot help but to think back to what seems like a few moments before, when I was planting the garden. Now, as the chilly air of fall blows up my spine, I have to say good-bye once again.

Of course the pain associated with saying “so long” never keeps me from anticipating all the things I will do differently next year. I try to keep good records of what worked, what did not, the veggies I liked and the ones I could do without, the ones that I had way too much of and the ones I wished I’d planted more of. Fall is always a great time to take stock in these kinds of things, since once winter says its farewells and gives over to spring, the excitement of another planting season can send me into a planting frenzy all over again.
The yard looks a little bare since I harvested the sunflowers and the herbs. The lavender scrubs have been cropped down, and the grapevines are drying up. Where my rhubarb once stood in all its grandeur, there are now just nubbins preparing for the winter ahead. My strawberries will soon be covered over with straw and my raspberries lie dormant for the months ahead. It is a sad sight indeed. My tools have been hosed off, oiled down and hung up for the deserved rest, and the hoses are rolled up and tucked away. It is both with sadness and with pride that I pay homage to a job well done as I carefully store them away.
The silver lining to this sad time is I do not have to say good bye to all my garden spots. A couple years ago, I discovered the joys of cold frame gardening during the winter months. This little technique extends the gardening season for such things as lettuce, spinach, and radishes, and I am so grateful for it. I am sure onlookers think it strange as I trek out through the snow to bring in some salad greens, but I am okay with that.
So, as I say good bye to the garden beds, I say hello to my the cold frame boxes…my little mini gardens. On a recent junking trip, I picked up yet another window for yet another back yard box. One of these days I will break down and get a green house, but for now these guys will do.
Inside my house, I visit the pantry and give thanks for the bounty the little gardens have provided. I enjoy seeing all the things canned, dried, and preserved that will remind me of the summer gardens as I make use of them in the winter months.
I think Shakespeare says it best with his quote, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” Sweet, since I cannot be so sorry as to not every do it again, yet it brings sorrow to watch what has become such a trusted friend go away until spring. Winter means no more “shopping” in the garden for what is for dinner. I am so spoiled during the summer months, when my menu is often dictated by what I find available out the back door. I’m spoiled, too, since the yummy flavors my garden bounty has given me can rarely be duplicated by the store bought imposters.
Of course, saying good bye to the garden also means saying hello to soups and broths and homemade breads, all familiar winter friends. They will keep me company for now, while I patiently await the warmer temperatures’ return and can once again celebrate the summer garden.
Good bye old friend, see you in the spring.

  1. nameEileen Pena says:

    I agree it is a sad time of year. I don’t like the next season at all except I am plan on getting new quilting projects done and a newly decorated sewing room. That keeps me going thru the bitter midwest winter. Then before you know it, it is Spring.

  2. Heather Jackson says:

    I so agree with your sentiments! Love your blog!

  3. Christine says:

    I’m the same way. I will miss my vegetable garden and my flowers. I could garden all year long. But living in Indiana we have the seasons that change. Yes my pantry looks wonderful all full of the yummy food that we grew. Will taste so good this winter! As always enjoyed your writings. God Bless

  4. Gary says:

    Excellent idea for a Winter Garden Rene’…!
    I shall try it when I move Home to Tennessee next year…
    I shall send this link to my Friend Trudi in Canada, as she will enjoy having a Garden in the Winter.
    Thanks, and…
    GodSpeed to Y’all…!
    in Tampa

  5. Clare Deane says:

    I have wanted to have a cold frame for winter for some time now, but I keep procrastinating. I like your thinking though and may get one going after your description of the frame and the winter goodies I can reap. My Mom is canning and drying for the winter and I get to enjoy to share in her bounty, but I live 335 miles from her, so I can’t go to the yard when the urge hits me. I miss not having a garden.

  6. Bonnie ellis says:

    Rene: In Minnesota, saying goodbye to the garden usually means saying goodbye to green. Everything dies, the leaves fall and the snow and cold comes. The only bright side when the holidays are over is that winter is the perfect time to snuggle in and make quilts. But we always look forward to green again in the spring.

  7. Bonnie says:

    Gee, I thought I was the only one who felt this way! You, though, are much more disciplined at keeping records. I will just give in to the frenzy next spring and buy and plant.
    I will definitely miss the warm rich taste of a just picked tomato! You are right. The imposters in the market just won’t cut it. Here’s looking to spring!

  8. Holly says:

    While it’s sad to say good’bye to the garden, I also love being able to tidy it up and put it to rest. I too am looking forward to the rest, and the planning of next years plot! It gives me great comfort to have my freezers and pantry full, knowing that provisions are stored for the winter ahead. Thanks for sharing!! Holly

  9. Phyllis Lloyd says:

    I so understand–had my first, for real garden this year and I am no spring chicken. I also just discovered MaryJane mag and uprooted, what I always suspected and dreamed of, I too am a "Farmgirl". Now I will venture into the world of canning or preserving next year and can not wait. Montana is my home, so I am saying good bye to all those plants too. What a wonderful time I have had and much I will miss the gardent this winter. But how excited I am for the times to come and the chance to learn how deep my "Farmgirl" roots really are. (It really is fun to read and participate in the blogging world, just discovered this too.) Thanks

  10. Tena says:

    I enjoyed your article and even have an appointment to change my hair to winter colors tomorrow. I will share the cold frame idea with some friends. Like you, me and many of my friends don’t yet have a greenhouse.

  11. Mary Frantic' Rauch says:

    Gee, I really enjoyed that read about saying goodbyes. I never knew other people thought that way also…My pansies keep saying "not yet please", and my kale and swiss chard say, "will you harvest me for New Year’s Eve as you’ve done a few years in the past?" .. Time will tell. Although I live in Ohio, I am a true deep-south gal in heart and mind…Change of subject:
    When do we get to see pics of the new haircolor that I heard mentioned?

  12. JoEllen says:

    Such sweet words for the plants that have given so much to provide for the cold months ahead! Someday I will be a good gardener like you, but for now its just a few tomato plants and zucchini who love you and produce no matter how much of a novice you are!!! Hardly any sun in our back yard — do we drastically trim our big fir tree to let in more light or be creative and plant raised gardens wherever the sun shines?? I think the latter — I’m planning ahead on how to fix this dilemma. You write so poetically Rene — such a treat to read each week!

    Thank You SOOO much!

  13. Marrina Frederick says:

    Good fall to you Rene,
    AAAAHHHH yes, it’s time to put our freind to bed for the winter.It’s been a VERY fruitful year for the whole garden excepy my zucchini,HA- go figure. I had to get them from girl freinds much to their humor.
    The last couple of years my husband decided he liked gardening, actually the weeding.HA- what a sweetie.He could never figure why I put all the effort into it when I can just go to the store. Silly town boy.After 17 years of this attitude , HE SAW THE LIGHT. OOOOOHHHH God is good.
    I love your blog. A good winter to you.

  14. LisaLu says:

    I too share the sadness, but I also enjoy saving the seeds for next year’s offspring!

    The leaves are changing, apples & cinnamon are calling, and I think a nice cup of tea, with a fire going, and my crochet hook is all I need. Fall is my favorite time to be home with all the comforts. We all need to be thinking of the holidays that are right around the corner….so much to do, so little time……before we know it… spring planting time will be here!
    If I could just figure out how to add more hours to each day, and at least two extra days a week…maybe I could get it all done!

    I just got a craving for persimmon cookies…mmmm!

    Happy Autumn to all!

  15. Lynn Spang says:

    I am newly aware of maryjanesfarm as my friend of 32 years(can it be?) just gave it to me as a birthday(yes, another one!) gift. What a pleasant surprise! I have lived in a rural area all my life and have by turns taken pleasure in gardening, yard work, crafts, etc. I am always amazed by God’s natural color palette in the spring and fall. Here in the Ohio valley we are at peak conditions for viewing the fall leaves. The crisp temperatures bring favorite pumpkin recipes to mind along with memories of my Mom. Thank you for reminding me of all the best things!

  16. judy says:

    Hi Rene, I too would like a greenhouse. My dad had 2.One was small to start the seeds while it was yet winter. One was big for transplanting/and selling from. The small one was attached to our house in an L-cove in the corner by my bedroom and our livingroom. I’d watch daddy watering his seedlings and he’d squirt me with the waterhose sometimes.Those times are deeply special to me now since we lost Daddy this past Feb. I too would like to build a cold frame. Do you have instructions on here someplace? Thanks! I really enjoy your Blog! Oh ya, I’d like to see(ahem) your new "Doo" too!

  17. Carrie M says:

    Hey Rene-

    I am saying the same sad goodbyes, here in New York. We’ve picked all the tomatoes and melons and peppers. The garden is mostly bare except for some beets that are holding on. We’ve had a week of hard frost in our area that has only slightly scorched us here on our south-facint hill, but the cold is on it’s way.

    However, we are comforted here by the brilliant colors of fall, something that makes us want to hop in our cars and take a ride just to breath the fresh air and take in the scenery! When I was in Washington for farm fair, a young man at the hotel said that he had heard that northeasterners do such things and he had always thought that was a "fable"…I assured him that we really DO go out "leaf-peeking," and we get a lot of leaf-peeking realated tourism, to boot!!

    Where did you get the plans for your cold frame?? I want to build one, even have the windows, but I was unsuccessful last time. Nothing grew!! I have lovely south sun, too 🙁

    Love to all the Prosser ladies!


    PS…read your "When Pigs Fly" just before I read this one and am soooooo sorry that is what you had! Your description makes me terrified…enough to maybe go get a shot which I’ve never considered before! Glad you are better 🙂


    Fall decided to show up here in the last few days as well.. I was afraid we were going straight from Summer to Winter, so I too am enjoying the fall colors. I found great cold frame ideas through goggle. If you are too cold, try digging up the dirt and laying down some plastic inside the frame on the bottom and sides. Poke some holes for water drainage in the bottom and add some rocks for drainage… then fill the dirt back in…. The plastic adds an additional layer of insulation, also re-putty your windows so that cold air is limited.  Let me know how it goes….  We so loved meeting you at farmfair and of course have made you an honorary prosserfarmgirl…..


  18. I go through the same thing every year! I hate to take in my garden for the winter, but I do enjoy the break from yardwork and gardening to enjoy indoor activities, such as cooking and craftwork.

  19. Debbie says:

    Rene, Oh so true.But, since this was my 1st garden in many years (we won’t go into HOW MANY!)I actually enjoyed putting my garden to bed for the winter as it is my very first year ever having a compost box. So, I am looking forward to using all that good compost in the spring. I haven’t yet built a cold box (Linda will encourage one soon I am sure) I won’t have any fresh from my garden veggies. But, I did freeze and dry so I am ahead of last year and the many years before. Thank you for all you teach and share with others. You have a generous and giving soul.See you later friend. Debbie

  20. Hi Rene`, I really enjoyed this article and without you knowing it, I’ve been given new hope! We live on the windswept plains which is NOT a place for a garden. Your old window is an idea I NEEDED. Now to find some! My husband is bringing home an old leaky stock tank for a ‘raised bed’ and now I get to add a new form of ‘window box’. Thank you for the inspiration. Shery Jespersen

  21. Catherine says:

    I really enjoyed the article, and made me think of hot beds again to keep cutting my mustard greens longer and arugla. Thanks for taking me to the garden again. Here in Indiana it is getting pretty cold in the middle of Nov.

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