Friday, October 14, 2016

Garlic And Arbutus

Mid October is when we plant our garlic.  Most of the seasonal activity in the gardens now deals with plant cycles coming to an end.  A beginning at this time of year just seems special.  My late father's birthday is nearly here and the quiet of planting is a perfect time for reflection and remembering.

The far end of this planting bed received seventy garlic cloves this morning.  The soil surface there is visually different from the rows of marked planting holes.  Five rows of our best variety, given to us by Helen, were planted first.  Then two rows of our marker garlic Guilford purple stripe were planted next.  Most of our varieties are in the porcelain group.  These plants are tall with widely spaced leaves.  Purple stripe plants are shorter with closely spaced numerous leaves.  These differences help me keep the different varieties separate at harvest.

Our arbutus plants were transplanted under white pine trees because we felt that such a location would favor them.  This is the time of year when the white pines cast off their old needles in the process of growing new ones.  We find the appearance of the needle covered wall and ground attractive and natural but a dense cover on the arbutus is not acceptable.  Our friend Jane has spent decades in close contact with woods and the plants that grow there.  She has told us of brushing away the fallen leaf cover to reveal arbutus plants in healthy bloom.  I find this difficult to understand since the life function of these plants requires some sunlight.  So I must carefully remove the dense cover of fallen pine needles.  That is not natural but neither is the galvanized wire cage that prevents wildlife from eating my plants.

This picture shows only half of the arbutus plants clear of pine needles.  The other half are so densely covered that it is difficult to see them.  One other planting was cleared yesterday but two additional ones still need attention.  This up close attention revealed numerous healthy looking bud clusters.  We hope that the snow cover this winter is continuous so that the plants emerge healthy.

Wind will clear most of the pine needles from the top of the stone wall.  Cracks between the cap stones will hold some needles all year.  That too is an attractive sight.

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