Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Garlic To Ground

Mid October is the time to remember my Father's birthday and plant garlic.  The actual placement of the cloves into the ground is done on bent knees.  From this prayerful position, one can remember past pleasant moments and hope to be able to harvest yet another garlic crop come July. We are of an age where we no longer take future events for granted.

The planting holes have previously been punched using the wire fence pieces to establish a precise grid.  Since our ability to eat garlic has diminished, the distance between the rows has been increased by two inches.  Now we will have twenty-two rows rather than twenty seven.  Two hundred twenty garlic plants is still way more than we will use but garlic has been with us for decades.  At this point in my life the experience of planting next year's crop is more important than eating it.  This morning featured crisp cool air, bright sunshine and the promise of a tomorrow.

The smaller cloves on the left are a locally grown purple stripe variety.  Their growth habit is tall with widely spaced leaves.  They are used to mark the limits of the main crop.  Each bulb consists of eight cloves and doubles are common.  The larger cloves are a locally grown porcelain variety.  Here the number of cloves range from four to six.  Helen's is the name we assigned to this variety to remember Becky's dear friend Helen who is no longer with us.  This is our best variety since it remains free of rot spots that still linger in our other varieties.  Every clove peeled this morning was healthy.

These peeled skins resemble the remains of a shrimp meal.  Despite their overnight soak in baking soda and water, removing them is a hard job.  We carefully snip the top making sure to stay above the clove.  Loosening the outer skin requires carefully applied force since the clove must remain unmarked.  Sometimes a single layer of transparent skin remains on the clove.  It is both sticky and amazingly strong.  Once it is removed from the clove, it wants to remain attached to a finger.

Today is the second time we planted this year.  Two more days will finish the job.  The peeled cloves are given a brief vodka bath.  This method of preparing the cloves for planting has almost completely eliminated the nasty rot.  We also plant in new ground each year trying to avoid soil borne disease.  Space for two more new beds remain but then we will be forced to plant in ground that has previously grown garlic.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Patchy Frost

We were promised patchy frost for this morning.  When I checked outside there was frost on the car, frost on the porch railing and frost on the shed roof.  It was early and chilly.  I was cold and crawled back in bed for awhile.  Later after the sun had a chance to melt the frost,  I got the camera and took some pictures that show what patchy frost does at least here in our garden.  Being a tropical plant the basil turned black, gross and slimy, but the peppers came through unscathed.

The upper part of the Heliotrope got burned by the frost.  The flowers turned brown and the leaves dark, but down next to the stone path the leaves remain green.  The purple flowers still have their cherry pie aroma.

In another part of the garden these tropical Lemongrass plants are just fine.  October 13 is later than usual for our first frost.  This time Jack went easy on us.  He will be back very soon and perhaps snow will be with  him!