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Fall: Time to Plant, And Launch a Book

17 Oct

As the days grow shorter the tendency to be lazy tempts weary gardeners. Now is not the time to rest. No dallying, especially not at Billy’s. 

The book launch approaches (October 23rd) and Billy’s garden…well, it’s a disaster. 

Corn stalks stand dry and pathetic, okra is thin and pale, surprisingly, the tomatoes have begun growing again. I’ve cleared my schedule, intent on “cleaning the garden.” A reporter from the newspaper is coming to interview Billy, and nothing says picture perfect better than a tidy vegetable garden. You’ve seen them in magazines: raised beds with rich black soil. Here in Georgia we have red clay. At Billy’s raised beds aren’t possible, he gardens with a tractor. 

I reasoned that Billy and I would remove the corn stalks thereby cleaning the garden and giving the photographer the opportunity to capture a few “action shots.” Afterward, we would plant the “winter greens.” Yes, I nodded to myself while placing our lunch in the car, everything would workout fine. 

At Billy’s, I introduced myself to Todd, (the photographer) then told him I had the perfect photo op for him. 

“We’ve got corn stalks to cut down,” I explained while Todd laughed at the goats that were crying the little, “I’m hungry,” lie they try on every new person they meet. I told Todd to ignore the liars, and follow me. Imagine my surprise when I walked around the fig tree and was greeted with a stripped-bear garden. 

Perhaps Billy and I have been working together too long. Obviously, we were thinking the garden needed “straightening up,” but stripped bare? Mercy no !! All that remained was a few anorexic-looking tomatoes. The newspaper photo would be a disaster. 

Each fall my dad plants winter rye as a cover crop. This rapidly germinating seed produces chin-tall grass that aerates and, when tilled back into the earth, returns essential nutrients to the soil. While Billy likes to try new things, when I mentioned that we needed to plant “rye grass” in the garden, he gave me the “no” head shake. Eventually I presented him with a bag of seed and convinced him.

Unbeknownst to me, Billy had “set to” chopping the corn, hacking the okra, and tilling the soil; hours earlier, all while completely forgetting I had a photographer scheduled. 

“Where’s the corn?” I asked, after standing for a moment in a what-do-I-do- now? hands-on-hips stance. 

“My neighbor got his tractor out and we plowed it under,” Billy said in a tone that conveyed isn’t it obvious? 

Help my time ! I’d planned on using those for corn shocks. I walked into the garden while Todd followed behind me. Bent and broken pieces of corn pierced the dirt. 

“I figured I’d break my little Cub tractor out of the barn and get that grass planted today,” Billy said. 

I turned to Todd who nodded. He set up his tripod, checked the sun and positioned Billy in the perfect spot then instructed me to keep myself, and my shadow, out of the way. Todd snapped a few shots, invited me into the photo, snapped a few more, then instructed Billy to crank the tractor so he could take some “action shots.” 

While Todd walked the rows that once contained okra, Billy cranked the Cub and put her in reverse. I bent over to retrieve stalks that were sticking out of the ground. Fortunately, I looked up a second before Billy backed over the tripod. I saved the tripod, motioned Billy forward, and Todd captured a beautiful picture.

Photo by Todd, which appeared in The Roswell Neighbor October 13, 2010

After Todd left, Billy and I “worked out” the onion bed. Fall is also the perfect time to plant onion and garlic. I reserve a section in my garden specifically for these delicious bulbs. Onions die back during hot weather, but the moment the humidity falls and night-time temperatures dip, onions start growing again.

 We scattered a few more lettuce seeds, hoed the turnips, and prayed everything will be perfect for the book launch.

For those who may live near the Roswell area, please join Billy and I, Saturday, October 23rd from 2-4 pm for the official launch of In The Garden With Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. More details through my website at www.reneawinchester.com, up to the minute, through the In The Garden With Billy page on Facebook.

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