Though not officially autumn, September has always signaled the beginning of fall to me.
It was a tough summer here in Florida. It was miserably hot, as was much of the country. We were fortunate to get more than our share of rain but the humidity that came with it didn’t exactly feel like a gift.
I bought more roses and watched them die, planted lettuce and watched it die, put purslane in the pots by the front door and although they lived, they made a mess as the flowers bloomed, then fell off. It seems the green on my thumb is mold, not mastery.
Then I went to a class on square foot gardening and heard with my own two ears what my mind has been trying to tell me for years: you can’t grow squat in Florida during the summer. Fall gardening is the way to go.
As I research my work in progress I continually put myself in the place of my protagonist, Julia, who lives in a barn. She has water from a pump and a pot-bellied stove for heat. She’s thirteen at the beginning of the book, too young to get a job, and yet stubbornly determined to take care of herself. She struggles through her first winter but as soon as she catches that first breathe of spring she starts a garden that she hopes will sustain her for the coming summer, fall and winter.
So, with that in mind, I’ve planned a garden of my own. One tomato, two boxes of lettuce, as well as zucchini, sugar snap peas, green beans, cucumbers (bread and butter pickles, here I come) carrots, beets and red peppers. Sounds like a lot, but I’m growing all of it in one flower pot, two window boxes and a bed that’s 2’ x 6’ (outside measurements). I’ll be trellising the viney things and leaving the front row of my bed to the carrots and beets.
I’ll keep you posted my progress, as well as the story the garden inspires.