Monday, December 29, 2008

End of the Hoophouse and the Garden

We took the hoophouse down today. Heavy snows coupled with high winds wreaked absolute havoc. The plastic ripped in a number of places along the sides, the doors tore off the ends, and the pipe forming the ridge pole snapped leaving a jagged end flailing about the interior of the remains. The makeshift cold frame we created inside collapsed as well in the wind, rain and snow.

Miraculously, the kale from the summer carries on despite all, and even some of the little sproutings from the fall remain standing and brilliantly green. Even some of the swiss chard wags a brilliant stem and leaf in a last glimmer of fresh, homegrown goodness. We'll be happily sharing them this evening with family and friends in for the holidays.

As unsurprising as this moment is, it is still a bit sad. I had hoped to eat from our garden until the day we left for Japan, and that my neighbor would share in the bounty of it after we had left. And in some ways that will still be true. Our larder, despite overflowing gift bags to family and friends in Michigan and Wisconsin, is still quite full. The pickled beets we enjoyed last night with our soup and salad were a delight, and I confess the jar in the refrigerator is still on my mind. As a friend once told me, that pop as you open the jar is one of the most satisfying sounds. I immediately harken back to the moment they were canned - the heat, the sun, the smell of the spicy brine, and sometimes even the field where they were picked - and relish the thought of their sweet and sour taste.

We will, of course, resurrect the hoophouse and cold frame when we return from Japan. The design will be tweaked for a stronger structure, and the use of plastic will be reviewed. We have been giving some thought to an A-frame. And the cold frame, at the very least, will not have cardboard sides. Both were a joy to us and made sense in many ways for how we wish to eat and therefore live. It has been a good learning experience.

This marks, as well, the near final farewell to the garden. Whatever kale we receive now is bonus material, and our primary focus will be on redoing the paths and priming the beds for a good rest. I see truckloads of manure in my future along with landscape cloth and newspapers. That, along with whatever agrarian and vegetable adventures I have in Japan are something to look forward to in the new year.

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