End of Garden Season

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The Heart of New England
Winding Up the Garden Season                         
(& Giving it a Final Grade)
© Jeanne Prevett Sable

It seems every hobby, no matter how enjoyable, has some unpleasant
component. My least favorite task in gardening is winding up and putting away
the garden hose at the conclusion of another growing season. Perhaps I’m
responding to the symbolism in this act—the winding of the hose representing
the winding down of the season . . . Then again, maybe I just hate lugging
hundreds of feet of plastic hose through the woods.  

Let me explain.

Our somewhat user-unfriendly irrigation system consists of a mega-length of
garden hose running all the way from the house through the woods, across the
road via underground culvert, along a short stretch of roadside, into the garden.
(This seemed easier than establishing a new garden site when we rebuilt our
house on the opposite side of the road after a house fire in 1994.)

So once a year, we haul sections of green plastic hose up from the cellar, connect
and lay them out in as straight a line as possible through the woods, tie the end
to a stick, and push it into the culvert under the road until it emerges, muddied
and serpent-like, from the other end. Then we drag the remainder to the garden
and connect it to the sprinklers. Every fall, we reverse the process.

This year, the annual stowing of the hose was more daunting than ever. The
frequent rains of the last several weeks had generated a thick carpet of wild
grass and brambles from roadside to garden that had literally stitched the hose
to the ground. Retrieving it required lots of Yankee ingenuity—I yanked and
yanked, convinced that the green monster was somehow holed up in the
culvert.  My husband, Charlie, coaxed it out and began the tedious process of
dragging great green loops of plastic through the thick underbrush between the

But I’m not complaining. There’s value even in this cumbersome ritual. The
slow gathering and recoiling of the hose along that familiar route brings back
the memory of a balmy spring morning, with ferns and garden hoses unfurling
everywhere, taut with the anticipation of a fresh new season. Would we stave
off another drought? Would the deer be kind this year? What surprises lay

Final Results of a Gardening Season

Now, along with hose and harvest, the final results are in. In a nutshell: Cool-
loving plants ran roughshod in early season over timid sun-lovers that got a
late start. Rain was plentiful until late season. Deer kept their distance;
porcupines didn’t.  

I often refer to my garden as a school.  With this in mind, I thought it might be
fun to actually grade (via report card, not road grader) my garden this year.
Based on letter grades measuring both the productivity and quality of each item
planted, here’s the breakdown: Tomatoes, C; Swiss chard, A plus; Brussels
sprouts, F (thanks to the porcupines!); beets, B plus; cauliflower, F (Porcupines
again!); broccoli , F ( you guessed it), carrots, A plus; radishes, B minus; spinach
, A; watermelon, D; various squashes, D; yellow wax beans, A; fava beans, B;
green beans, A; potatoes, A; garlic, B; eggplant, F; Strawberries, D. Scores do not
reflect deportment or effort, for which the gardener assumes full responsibility.

How would you grade your garden this year?  Email me at
jprevett@writer.mv.com and we’ll pool the results!

About the author

Jeanne Prevett Sable is an organic gardener, editor, and freelance writer based
in New Hampshire who specializes in farming and environmental issues, with
hundreds of articles published in local, regional, and national publications. She
has written environmental scripts for children's television, live puppet theater,
and the Web. She is also the author of
Seed Keepers of Crescentville, her first
The Heart of New England
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Winding up the Gardening Season
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