The days grow ever shorter, meaning our autumn garden crop is racing against the solstice. Every day in October, we lose 2 minutes and 30 seconds of sunlight. Daily sunlight now averages 11.5 hours, a far cry from the luxurious 15 hours of warm sun each day in June.

Remember your elementary school science: Plants need sunlight to grow.

CRR planted lettuce and, in a fit of hopefulness, more beets. And we still have blossoms on some of the tomatoes.

We could simply shut down the garden. After all, if you look around us at the community gardens, some plots resemble a war zone, evidence that their owners long ago gave up.

I know we’ll eat some fresh lettuce this fall. The beets might be a stretch. Maybe some green tomatoes. Time is running short. Or, rather, we’re running out of sunlight.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA. Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.