Preparing adequately for a late fall marathon and keeping an unwritten care contract with your garden can generally both be accomplished. Weather and falling temperatures usually provide a degree of cooperation. Not this year.
The dilemma comes in this year’s collision of timetables: the two weeks to taper and reserve energy for the marathon and the window of time nature gives us to put the garden to bed occur simultaneously.
Two weeks before my next marathon and we had not yet had a killing frost. Weeds, weeds, weeds. To avoid their headstart for 2013, I donned my gardening gloves, my worn, torn, outdated Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, retired Saucony running shoes, knee pads, and trowel and made my way through the foundation beds, knowing that if the warm weather persists, weeds will be sprouting anew tomorrow.
I did my best to plan garden activity in advance of the marathon taper weeks. In September, I extended beds and planted bulbs for Spring enjoyment. Tape measure in hand, I positioned bulb groupings to encircle the bottom branches of a spruce tree. During my first taper week, I noticed that my carefully spaced plantings of bulbs were scattered across the surface soil. Rabbits? Squirrels? Out of frustration, I buried them where I found them. It will be a sight to behold come Spring.
In defense of my backyard creatures, it appears we may be headed into a rough winter. They are scrounging about for any kind of food to store. A number of cones from our spruce tree now look like miniature corn cobs, fodder for their winter stash.
Still in my first marathon taper week, I learned the waste authority has mulch available for residents. What gardener could pass up the opportunity? With bags and barrels in tow, I make three separate trips, shoveling mulch into containers, unloading them from SUV into garden wagon, marching them to the neediest garden spot, protecting plants from winter’s coming bite.
My final unplanned taper activity resulted from a generous neighbor’s offer of a fresh root from his gooseberry bush. Of course, that summertime offer arrived during my October taper week.
How often do I receive a gooseberry root, delivered to my door ready for planting? Taper looses, gooseberry bush wins. I dig a hole deep enough to cover the crown and wide enough to let its long roots breathe.
Marathon morning, I will pay dearly for the energy exerted hauling bags of mulch, digging holes, weeding on hand and knee. So be it.
Returning to the warm indoors, I brush off the excess dirt and seek shelter ahead of Superstorm Sandy, knowing the garden is mostly put to bed.
As Sandy leaves with just a few squalls in her wake, I look ahead to marathon weekend, take a short solo run and stop along the Yellow Breeches in awe of the power in its swollen banks.