This is turning out to be a fantastic year for most gardens! Is it because most of us have more time to spend pulling weeds, pruning small plants, and watering parched soil? Is it because of the weather? Whatever the reason, garlic was lush and plentiful in my garden.
It took me two hours of digging, pulling, and gathering to harvest all the bulbs. While carrying the last three of nine baskets up the hill and into the shed, the thought hit me, “Maybe waiting for one of the hottest most humid days of the summer to collect these bulbs was not such a good idea.”
The funny part of this story is that for three years I had been planting garlic in my garden. But never saw any scapes, seedpods, or even as much as a blade of garlic. This garden patch alongside the woodlands had become more like a test site for attracting wildlife than a habitat for growing vegetables.
We strung an electric fence. But the mice, gophers, and baby rabbits ran under it. Often, a deer would break the wire, leaving the garden open for other deer and raccoons. The life of tender seedlings on this plot of land is often cut short. The few mature plants that manage to weather the storms, hang on to fruit riddled with teeth marks. By late summer there is easier pickings at the grocery store and overgrown weeds are allowed to choke off the remaining harvest. Due mainly to neglect, this garden had never amounted to anything.
While trying to find ways to stop the wildlife from taking all the crops, I ran across an article professing that garlic deters animals. But that’s not all! Did you know, this herb has antibacterial qualities, helps relieve flu symptoms, and gives us more stamina? It’s also good brain food and helps control weight. Garlic is good for our hearts, lungs, muscles, and gums. It helps lower cholesterol, reduces bone loss, and may aid in preventing cancer and Alzheimer’s. I guess you could say, garlic helps us live longer, healthier lives. And it is delicious! Well, I did not need any more convincing for these potent little bulbs to become one of the most important plants in my garden.
It is hard to know what finally kept the animals out. But after years of a garden full of nothing, this summer everything seems to be growing better. Did the garlic keep the animals from robbing the garden of her fruit and vegetables? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, “Oh my, this garden had a bumper crop of garlic!”
There were over a thousand garlic bulbs that needed to be dried, smoked, pickled, or re-planted. Pondering what to do with my plethora of garlic, a Garrison Keillor story about an overabundance of zucchini, came to mind. His narrative tells about the people on Lake Woebegone and how they left zucchini on the front seat of every car that was not locked. And so, I decided to do the same thing with my extra bulbs. I figured, if zucchini can endure the hot sun on the front seat of a car, so can garlic.
Here is a trinket to stash in your back pocket: When times are good and things are abundant, enjoy sharing what you have with others. Always put some of your profits away for hard times. And it takes a long time to get the smell of garlic out of a vehicle!
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