Last month, I wrote here about planting spinach in the snow. I have believed unswervingly in this method since I read about it in The Mother Earth News, and have spoken about it with such fervor that I have made several converts.
One such acolyte (you know who you are) informed me matter-of-factly last week that her spinach was an inch high. Now that the temperature is in the 70s, she must be eating baby-spinach salads. Moi, on the other hand, have nothing coming up in my garden. Nothing, that is, except for green grass and emerald weeds.
Being a good (recovering) Catholic, I made an examination of conscience. What had I done wrong, or not done right, to account for this failure? The answer was, I had committed sloth, one of the seven deadly sins. Specifically, I was guilty of autumn sloth.
I confess that by October, when the leaves turn and the birds leave, I get heartily sick of gardening. The intensity of it! The endless planting, weeding, harvesting, washing, blanching, freezing! Lord, I pray, deliver me from all this bounty! Kyrie eleison, hurry up and send that killing frost.
To get the animals ready for winter, I clean out the shed and pile the manure-enriched bedding on the garden. This is hard work, but I do it gladly because it marks the end of the gardening season. When I\’m done, I put away the pitchfork and the cart and go inside and light a fire. The last thing I want to do is go back to the dead garden and work the compost into the ground. Instead, I leave it on top of each bed, like a kind of duvet, waiting for the first snow.
When I went out with my seed packets last month, the snow had melted overnight, but the ground was far too hard to work. As long as I was out there, though, I figured I might as well drop the seeds into the compost, and hope for the best.
Well, the best hasn\’t happened. Those little seeds never did find a molecule of dirt to glom on to, or they would have come up by now. Despite torrential rains, the hay-and-manure duvet was far too thick for them to navigate, and I am sure they are stuck somewhere near the middle of it, not germinating.
As a result of my autumn sloth, I have no spinach, alas, and no arugula. Moreover, last summer having been a bad veggie summer, I now have three packages of frozen veggies in the freezer: one of pureed pumpkin, one of broccoli, one of peas. I cannot believe that I am going to be forced to buy greens at the grocery store.
I know that I should get out there right now and work that fabulous compost into the ground and plant some seeds. And I know that if I do that in the beds where I put in the spinach and arugula I will turn up and kill sad little green embryos. What to do? Just in case, I\’ll fork over and plant the beds in which I didn\’t plant the early greens. And in another couple of weeks, I\’ll replant those early beds again. Mea culpa.