I believe we have finally begun to experience the shift in our garden from Summer to Fall. I know it is not Fall yet, but the tomatoes are no more, the vine plants have slowed their growth to crawl, and the bean leaves dangle brown on their climbing poles.
In some ways it is a welcome break from the continual care of this incredible organic-food-machine. We do not have to water the garden quite as often. The heat has finally lifted and is not beating down on the plants with as much force as it did only two weeks ago. We harvest food about every other day, still coming in with a full colander of riches which is wonderful, but there is not the daily need to make sure that we gather the ripe vegetables and fruit before a critter does that for us.
Even the birds are acting different. The quail are moving more slowly, they are still producing eggs, but they lay around much more and try to slip out of the open door more often than they did before. The chickens are nearly mature and ready to lay. They seem to be brooding and don't like for me to come into their coop or get to close when I feed them. They make these irritated, warning calls when I drop scraps into their pen and I can sense the hormones that must be pushing through their bodies as they prepare to lay their first eggs.
The Summer season is creeping to a close for a majority of the raised beds.Although, eggplants, green peppers, purple bell peppers, Thai chilies, jalapenos and cantaloupe seem to be only in mid-season for what they are capable of. Some of the peppers are only now just beginning to reveal their fruit so we still have a harvest to look forward to before we call it quits for all the summer beds.
In the meantime, we are preparing for our fall crops. This week we will clear out beds that are no longer producing and move the chicken coop (tractor) to those beds so that the hens can fertilize, aerate, and clean out those beds for us. After the chickens have had a couple weeks in each bed, we will add more fertilizer and compost. By that point, hopefully, the seeds that I will have planted will be ready to put in the soil so that we can look forward to the fruits of the Fall.
Our summer garden has been prolific and truly a joy to tend. We have had the blessing of being able to fill up our freezer to enjoy this harvest in the winter while still having enough food to share with friends and neighbors who stop by. Tending the garden is a daily exercise in experiencing miracles and grace. We are so grateful for this gift!