Summer is starting its decline for this year. As sad as that might sound, it doesn’t mean things slow down.  With the harvest time upon us it is the busiest time of the year, not just in the garden, but also in the kitchen.  It is also the time of year when I evaluate and contemplate, not the rest of this years growing season but next years.

I have been growing gardens for more than 35 years and it astounds me what lessons I learn from the garden each year.   This years revelation seems like such a simple one. For many a year I have enjoyed my perennials and my self seeding annuals. These little seeds scatter themselves throughout the garden each fall. They manage to survive the hungry birds stocking up their bellies in the fall, the harsh winter of snow and ice and freezing and thawing temperatures for months.  Then they struggle each spring to sprout and pop up their cheery leaves up through the soil. These little seeds are my champions. They come through the harshness of winter weather, become strong and vibrant and produce the wonderful gift of food.

In years past, I have left this cycle to chance. Letting them seed where they may and then planning the other things in the spring where I can. I have collected the seeds in the fall, but for some reason thought I should save the seed to plant until spring. Why? Indoctrination of spring planting? Habit? I’m not sure.

This new discovery for me is not new at all to the world of nature.  Nature has always done this whether it’s in the garden, the roadside, the pasture or the meadow. It’s simple.  Plant those gathered seeds in the fall. I can plant some of next year’s garden right under this years. That gives a whole new meaning to the layered garden style. I will give them what nature gives them: a nutritious blanket of leaves to keep them warm for the winter and watch for them sprout when they are ready in the Spring, not when I think they should be ready.

Mother Earth has a wonderful strength to care for itself. We need to observe these strengths, patterns and methods, then we just need to get out of the way and let nature take the lead.