Good Garlic


On Tuesday I planted garlic. I had planted garlic just once before, and I was a bit nervous; nary a one from that previous planting sprouted. (Lesson One: don’t plant garlic bulbs in the spring in the Pacific Northwest, even if one of the clerks at the chi-chi nursery down the block tells you that it’s okay.) This year my bulbs came from Agassiz, a two-hour drive east of Vancouver, from a charming pottery studio whose owners also happen to roast and grind coffee and grow garlic, at least 15 kinds of mouth-numbing garlic. I bought a massive number of bulbs to tide our family over the winter. (Not that the Twits care. And Lesson Two: Russian Red, Persian and Music garlic are much stronger than the Chinese garlic of grocery stores; a little goes a long way unless you want to burn your guests’ mouths out.) Lynda kindly gave me written instructions on how to plant some of the bulbs myself. I was determined. Of course, I didn’t read the instructions right away. I do remember her telling me to wait till October, a first frost if possible, but I didn’t look at the actual sheet until I had prepped the beds and was ready to plant. So I had to wait a day before planting, because according to the instructions, I’d have more success if I soaked the cloves in a water and baking soda mix for 24 hours (it loosens the skins, which can harbor fungi), then soaked the cloves in rubbing alcohol or vodka (particularly apt for the Russian Red variety, don’t you think?) right before planting. By the time I was ready, my gardener, Lydia, had shown up, and together we dug some trenches and buried the cloves. We also planted two types of kale, some winter lettuce, plus arugula. I won’t know if the garlic planting will be a success till spring, when we should see garlic scapes; keep your fingers crossed.


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