When we left our garden in New Hampshire in the summer of 2011, vegetables were still pouring out of it. Zucchini, summer squash, Swiss chard, kale, lettuce, tomatoes…
The last thing I did was grab a big bag and harvest whatever would fit. I tucked it on top of the piles of our life in the back of the car and off we went. Open windows led to the children being showered in kale…
It has been difficult to not have a garden in Maine. I cringe to have to buy kale, something we had 9 months of the year from the garden and that is so much happier the less time it spends being cut. I miss not having the option of walking into the backyard to see what could be turned into lunch or dinner.
I shouldn’t say we haven’t had ANY garden since leaving New Hampshire. We were determined that even if we didn’t put in a garden, we were going to find somewhere, somehow, to plant our seed garlic. I love many things about kale, but if I had to pick one thing to make sure we grow, garlic it is. I love the rhythm of it… The garlic planting is the last thing that happens in the garden in the fall, and it is one of the first things to make an appearance in the spring. It gives doubly, with garlic scapes first (mmm, garlic scape pesto) and cloves at harvest time to use in Josh’s marinara sauce, sauteed into greens, simmered into soups, used raw as an antibiotic curative (very effective, albeit very smelly)… And it’s the one thing we know how to save seeds for at this point, so we can keep the cycle going over and over all on our own.
Shortly after our move last year, neighbors of my mother-in-law were kind enough to offer their old horse pasture for our garlic planting. It was rocky, shallow soil, but at least it was something that we could dig in, plant into. That 2011 Columbus Day weekend, the weekend we always marked for garlic, we were planting garlic seed into Maine.
It was so warming and reassuring to see those first green shoots come out of the earth this past spring. It was somewhat bittersweet, as this time it would not herald the start of the rest of the garden. But at least we had those garlic scapes, churning them into pesto. And then at the height of this past summer the garlic was ready to pull. It was not our best harvest, they were not our biggest cloves, but we’d had a chance to dig our hands into the dirt and to keep our garlic going.
Columbus Day came around again this year. Only this time we were planting OURSELVES onto the land. That was the weekend we moved into the yurt, followed by a flurry of getting ourselves rooted in here. The garlic seed was hanging in a basket in the kitchen area, just waiting and reminding, maybe even nagging. Meanwhile, THIS is what our planned garden area on our land looked like:
Not exactly planting ready. Friends offered some of their garden space and soon we were off to nearby Castine with a bag of 100 or so cloves that Josh had separated out, digging into the earth and starting on the next garlic cycle, side by side as they planted their 600 (!) cloves.
This time it was Veterans Day weekend instead of Columbus Day weekend. And there was another very notable difference for me. My six-year-old Caden has helped me plant the garlic the past three years. This year the four adults did the planting while he was off with our friends’ sons, building forts in the woods, army crawling by now and then in their blaze orange hats looking like little rolling pumpkins. I miss my garden sidekick, but realize this is just part of another kind of cycle.
This year I didn’t help you plant garlic. I was too busy spying on you guys.
Next year? I don’t know where, I don’t know when, I don’t know who with, but I do know there should be garlic.