The trees shed their leaves and the termination dust advances daily down the mountains as we scurry to get everything at the farmhouse ready for winter. Gathering in the last of the crops, putting the garden to bed, and wrapping up unfinished projects. We can no longer cling to the hope of summers last gleaming rays, we must face the immanent change.
This past weekend I finally hauled in the last of the root crops. Fifteen pounds of parsnips and our first sunchokes (aka jerusalem artichokes.) I tossed them in a little grapeseed oil, salt and pepper for a Permaculture Guild potluck. They were a success…nutty and crisp and slightly sweet! Sunchokes are a perennial in the sunflower family with edible tubers. They are easy to grow by planting the tubers in the fall and are highly nutritious.
After harvesting my garden beds, I dug out the paths surrounding them and piled the gorgeous black earth on top of the garden to raise the beds even further. The paths (and the whole garden) used to be lawn, which I put cardboard over and covered with wood chips. This smothered the grass and gave the opportunity for the microorganisms to turn the degraded lawn into fertile soil. The raised beds will warm up faster in the spring and allow me to start seeds earlier. On top of the soil, I put on a layer of chopped up garden waste, whatever happened to be nearby, to give the soil life something to feed on, then covered it with mulch. For mulch I like to use a mixture of straw and leaves, but I haven’t been able to find any leaves this fall. If anyone has a good source of pesticide-free leaves (ie, no weed-and-feed) in Anchorage, let me know.
I am putting my chickens to work in the garden as well. Their job is to go in after harvest and eat all the slug eggs, what garden waste they want, dig the rest into the soil, and fertilize while they are at it. They are very efficient at their job, spending countless hours making sure they get everything. I can’t imagine how busy I would be if I didn’t have their services.
The falling leaves are emblematic of a deeper change going on. I recently returned from Tennessee where I graduated with my master’s degree in Regenerative Entrepreneurship, became an advisor for incoming Gaia University associates, and completed a Permaculture Teacher training with Dave Jacke. Suddenly, instead of focusing on my own learning, I am focused on other people’s learning. Matt is still on his Gaia University learning pathway, and I am learning to be a better support for him as well.
Matt and I also have friends breaking up from long-term relationships, others moving away, and new tenants who just moved in downstairs. Even though it can be difficult, I need to be open to shedding old relationships, ideas, and patterns in order to make way for the flush of growth that comes in physical or metaphorical spring. My garden will burst forth with life after a winter’s slumber, and I, too will be transformed by my new opportunities and growth.