Late October. Bringing in the lawn furniture. Raking leaves. Pulling out the rest of the vegetable garden. All these, hallmarks of fall releasing its hold on the land to the icy grip of winter. This is the plan at least. Except when an unusually warm fall & stubborn wife combine into a risky gamble. Spoiler alert – you’ll end up telling your husband he was right and you were o, so wrong.
The hubs thought the logical & smart idea would be to pull the garden out then, before the ground froze & it became a painstaking day of chopping rotting veggie slime. (So boring, I know!) I on the other hand, though it MUCH more reasonable to keep the garden in because of the warm weather, and squeeze a few more weeks out of fresh produce before having to switch to much higher priced, half-wilted versions. Save money. Fresh food. It’s a no-brainer (right?).
Plus to boot, the crops – consisting at this point of a row of lettuce, a half dozen stalks of kale, and bunches of chard – could withstand some light frosts. Well, except for the lettuce perhaps.
How was I supposed to know that below the surface, the roots were freezing by the day? We went back & forth for a couple weeks. Me swearing the crops wouldn’t freeze & the hubs sure that he’d end up annoyed, frustratingly digging out the half-frozen, half-rotted greens. But I’m more stubborn. So he gave in. (What’s it again? Happy wife, happy life? I hate that phrase!)
About 3 weeks into the Great Garden Standoff of ’17, we had a sudden, hard frost. The jig was up. The plot could last no longer. Our gorgeous green & deep purple leaflets of lettuce had congealed into a molten mass. Time to end the garden. I felt bad that I had recently been spending so much time behind a computer or phone, typing emails, editing pictures, and creating business plans, so I decided I’d surprise The Hubs by taking care of it myself. I happily strutted out the garden, beanie keeping the tresses at bay, and thin, scratchy gardening gloves in hand. Fifteen, twenty minutes tops, and all would be good.
That’s when this whole thing starts to unravel. I stepped into the garden, sliding around on the muddy mounds of old trenches, slipping on half-frozen rivulets of mud & puddles of water. Taking a big handful of kale, I gave a good yank. Nothing. I pulled harder. Nope. This stuff was stuck like Excalibur’s sword. That little voice started talking in my head. You know the one just loud enough to be extremely annoying (“I told you so.”) It clearly must be a coincidence. The kale must have super strong roots (Yea right. Suuuure.) Moving over to the lettuce it happened again. Same with the chard. Damn!
Luckily my mind works fast when it’s backed into the corner of admitting I’d been wrong for 2 months. I dug through the garage and, ooo pickaxe! This will take care of things! I hoisted it up and swung down, driving into the soil where the kale stem met dirt. Pulling back, the roots came right up. So did 3 or 4 inches of frozen dirt in one big chunk. Alright, I was wrong! But, as in all good marriages, I didn’t even have to say it. Because of course when I turned around the hubs was there, arms crossed and chuckling into his beard. His eyes alight in a little dance of ‘see, this is what I was afraid of’. I spent the afternoon chopping out the rest of the plants (because of course I can’t admit defeat. No, no! I am the strong, kick ass wife who is doing this on her own!)
In the end, my hands ended up with some calluses & a blister from the polished wood rolling back & forth in my palm. And my shoulders felt like I had done a bazillion push-ups. But man, it felt good to do something with my own two hands. Even if it was cleaning up frozen rotted vegetable roots. Yea, this is a good look for me.
And yes, next year I’ll listen to him…maybe.