Off Season

at 11:43 PM

So, now that summer's over you'll get to relax, right? I've heard this, or some version of it, from many of my city friends in recent weeks. They mean well, and I sure wish the end of summer did mean a break in farm and garden chores....but alas, there's truly no such thing.

Though what greets you at the weekly farmers market decreases as the days shorten and the sun--still bright as in midsummer--warms your skin a little less each day, there's as much activity as ever back on the farm. Behind the colorful displays of peppers, winter squash and dahlias, there are seed catalogs to scrutinize, fields to prep and sow with cover crops, beds to clear and trees to tend. There are fall crops to wrangle, like apples and persimmons, and spent berry canes to untangle and remove. Onions and garlic go in the ground about this time, though you won't see them till the long, hot days return. And of course, a host of winter veggies, started before summer even thought of leaving, to look after and prepare for harvest.

When the rains come -- I'll be optimistic -- there will be tools to sharpen and repair, compost piles to shield with tarps, and books to analyze and balance. There'll be supplies to inventory and restock, frost blankets to dig out of storage and deploy, and fences to inspect and mend. Every day, no matter what the season, there will be animals to feed.

And before you know it, there will be spring seeds to sow in flats, and keep toasty warm in greenhouses. The cover crops will need mowing, and the berries will send out new canes that need tying up. And soon enough you'll be thinking, "I guess vacation's done for all those farmers!"

With a Perspective, I'm Peggy Hansen

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Peggy Hansen is a photographer and organic farmer in Santa Cruz.

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