It’s sometimes hard to harvest

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Borrowing the idea from the Scripture, a Pete Seeger song says there is a time for everything, a time for doing and for having, and a time for stopping and for letting go. When it comes to gardening, I get the doing and having part, tilling, planting, watering and then gathering. However, letting go when the growing process is at an end, tests me.

I have the hardest time pulling up plants when it is obvious they are at the stopping point. As long as there is a bit of green, a bloom left on a withered vine, I hang on for one more day.

That’s well and good unless you want a fall garden in the same spot where the worn out plants from spring are struggling to stay alive. This past weekend I knew, to paraphrase Seeger, there is a time to plant, and a time to say farewell to the squash and string beans.

Still I hesitated, procrastinated, drug my feet and came up with a dozen things to do instead of what needed doing. My husband, who has a better grasp of a time for all things, encouraged me to take action.

“Didn’t you want to pull up those plants so you can replant?” he asked me Saturday morning. “I have a few things to do and then I’ll help you or I’ll do it for you.”

For a second, I panicked at the thought of roots jerked out of the earth and tossed on the trash heap. There were one or two baby squash and maybe a handful of shriveled beans on the tired plants.

“I want to check it out before we pull things up,” I said. “There might be a few beans left to pick and a squash plant that is OK.”

My husband shook his head and walked off. An hour later he was back.

“Let’s get those plants out,” he said.

“It’s gotten kind of late,” I said. “It’s hot; we could do it earlier tomorrow.”

“I’m going to the garden and waiting for you,” he said. “I won’t do anything until you get there.”

“Let me get my shoes,” I said.

I took my time putting on socks and tying shoes, but finally headed for the garden.

My husband gave me a few minutes to walk among the plants. I pulled the baby squash that hadn’t turned to mush and searched for the last offspring of the beans.

“Well, I guess that is it,” I said. “Looks like grasshoppers are eating the leaves off everything anyway.”

Not giving me time to change my mind, my husband pulled up squash plants and I tackled the string beans. In about five minutes, we finished.

“The garden did well this year, didn’t it?” I said to my husband as he raked up squash leaves. “I don’t think it ever made stuff this long into the summer.”

He nodded, picked up the bag of garden debris and walked out the gate.

“Now why was that so hard?” I asked a green dragonfly perched on top of a still-producing-pods okra plant. “It was time to let go and to make room for something new.”

The insect buzzed, flapped its transparent wings and flew out behind my husband.

If dragonflies can talk, this one was asking, “What is up with that woman.”

As I surveyed the bare rows, I whispered a thank you to my departed plants. Then I started planning my fall garden singing softly, “To everything, (turn, turn, turn), there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time for every purpose under heaven.”