Well, I guess it’s time. I was waiting to write today to see how the day developed. I had several choices of a topic. So here’s how I feel about today, Sunday, November 3, 2013.
Topic: Eclipse of the Sun.
Comment: I was sleeping.
Topic: Time change back to Standard Time.
Comment: Ugh, that’s why I was sleeping.
Topic: High temp today of 45.
Comment: Good reason to be sleeping.
Topic: New moon at 7:50 AM.
Comment: I was sleeping.
Topic: Preserving food.
Comment: Stayed up ‘till 2:00 AM doing so. Now, too tired to think about it.
Topic: Planting garlic at 9 Mile Farm.
Comment: Garlic is a BIG DEAL at 9 Mile Farm, as it is at many small farms. A good garlic harvest can help a farm make its nut in any particular year. 9 Mile Farm is where I buy my CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) share, and where I volunteer my time one day a week, every week. This week I added half-a-day today to help with the garlic planting.
Garlic planting is a weekend-plus event every fall. This is the second year I’ve helped in this project. Last year it was a sunny, medium warm, glorious fall day on which I was in my second or third day of what was probably a mild case of influenza. I had a fever, a headache, body aches, waterfall focus, sensitive hearing. And I was crazy enough to spend several hours in the glorious sunlight digging and hoeing and preparing the 160-foot long beds to be planted with garlic. I never planted one clove, but went home to bed.
This year, I brought my friend, Ushnisha, to meet the farm and get her hands dirty with planting. Today it was typical November: cold, overcast, damp. Did I say COLD? Every bit of the air reminding us that it will soon be December and the balmy days of fall are behind us. All that we have to look forward to is the Winter. But this weather makes the garlic happy. You push the garlic clove into the ground along Rebekah’s carefully prepared grid so that its root end gets deeply and comfortably ensconced in the dirt. There the garlic will while away the winter, making roots and shoots and waiting for the spring.
Each 160-foot long, 30-inch wide row is carefully lined with 5 rows of string showing the long rows where the garlic will grow. Down the center of the row, a tiny orange or pink flag every 8 inches shows the eager volunteers where along the 5 strings the cloves will be planted. Rebekah moves down the row ahead of us, dropping a clove at the bottom of each flag, while Ushnisha and I each work two rows on each side of the center. It becomes a meditation:
Lay out 10 cloves,
Root side down;
Push into the ground –
Repeat. . .
Stand and bend.
Blow on fingers.
Repeat. . .
And every now and then look up at the ever moving clouds flowing across the wide open sky. And late in daylight when the sun falls below the cloud cover, look up at the light and how it makes the russet oak trees glow along the easterly hilltops. And later how the sun casts pink ruffles on the remaining grey clouds, and creates stark silhouettes of pine trees on the west ridge.
Racing the darkness, Rebekah laying out the cloves and we pushing, pushing, pushing the babies into the ground. They get harder and harder to see as the sun falls deeper and deeper behind the west ridge. Is that a garlic (or is it a pebble)? As it became too dark to see anything any more and the ground was becoming stiff with the cold, we planted the last clove of our shift. There will be more shifts of people planting little onion relatives along 160-foot rows until all 8,000 garlic are planted. Today we planted close to 2,500 that will be tiny green sprouts in 6 months. Happy winter sleep, little garlics. Can’t wait to see you in spring!
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For an interesting article about growing garlic, check out this one from the Old Farmer’s Almanac on line: http://www.almanac.com/plant/garlic. Be sure the read the comments.