IN THE GARDEN-First Garlic Harvest of 2017
In all honesty, this morning’s harvest was triggered by finding the headless, tailless, remains of a snake in the garden last night. The markings were similar to a bull or rattlesnake but because of the condition I am not sure which. It is quite possible the lawn mower did the creature in. Although Sophie the Hunter Cat could have been involved.
Nonetheless, the finding spurred the need to clear out a patch of weeds in an area where I had plopped some garlic last fall. There was also a volunteer purple potato plant in the mix. This area of the yard really isn’t in the garden. Instead it is in sort of a no man’s land between the yard around the house and the lot.
This distinction plays a role. The lawn is kept mowed by my spouse. The lot is my territory. Buffalo grass prevails in the non-irrigated lot, so it is green for about six weeks in the spring and brown the rest of the year. The Bluegrass/other mix watered by the sprinkler system needs constant mowing. No man’s land sometimes receives water from the sprinkler system on windy days.This particular spot has very sandy soil and a history of much failure. No fewer than four trees have met their demise there. A small Blue Spruce was planted last spring as a memorial and hasn’t croaked yet so maybe things are on the upswing.
Last year I had quite a few purple seed potatoes and I popped some in the area about a yard away from the Blue Spruce thinking having both there would spur a reminder to water. Last fall when I harvested the potatoes I was surprised to find that area had the largest. So, having little success with garlic bulbs getting any bigger than the clove I planted, I thought I would give the patch a try hoping for an outcome similar to the potato.
This spring a volunteer potato plant emerged alongside the garlic. Unlike some gardeners, I relish plants that come up on their own. I live in an area classified as semi-arid. The average rainfall is in the low teens. Unfortunately this decade has had multiple years of under 10 inches and two years below 7 which makes it a dryer time than the Dust Bowl Years. Thus, if a plant can make it up on its own I believe it has an extra hardiness factor and deserves to live.
The past month the garden needed to be hardy due to an absentee gardener. No man’s land was thick with weeds about 18 inches tall. Perfect territory in my mind for a snake. So this morning, I turned on the hose full blast in case another slithery critter was taking refuge. Two rabbits bounded out but no snakes.
Along with pulling weeds, I harvested the garlic and the potato, although the latter probably could have stayed a little longer. I am happy to report that the garlic actually looked like garlic. The potatoes were a bit on the small side. More the size of new potatoes.
The nicest surprise was a baby oak tree. One of the critters that inhabit my yard must have dropped an acorn off the oak I planted 20 years ago. The oak is one of handful in this area, since oaks just don’t grow here. Applying the aforementioned hardiness theory, I plan to let the oak grow and transplant in a few years if both trees are still surviving and one needs to move.
In the picture, the garlic apart from the others was also harvested this morning but out of a proper garden spot. It is a different variety as you can tell from the coloration. Altogether the yield was just over 9 ounces. The purple potatoes weighed in just under 2 pounds. Not bad for an early harvest off a volunteer plant.