Monday, November 29, 2010

Garlic in the snow

I made a grave gardening mistake this past fall.  I didn't order - and therefore didn't plant - any garlic.  Until now.

Hoping it wasn't too late, the search was on to find some garlic that was still available.  Most growers had already sold out to wiser gardeners than me.  After an internet search and several inquiries, I hit upon a place called Alpha Garlic Farm in upstate New York, operated by an incredibly nice couple named Erkson.

I spoke to Mr. Erkson and expressed concern that it was too late in the season to plant.  He disagreed and said he was still planting, and often plants into December.  I figured if someone in upstate NY can plant that late, so could I.  I went ahead and ordered 100 cloves.

And here's where the "incredibly nice" part comes in.  The Erksons don't take credit cards, so I would need to send a check.  But - can you believe this? - he told me he would ship out the garlic right away and that I could follow with a check.  In other words, he trusted that I, a perfect stranger, would be honest enough to pay for the garlic.

This conversation happened on a Thursday, and I had the garlic by Saturday.  You can bet I mailed the check on Monday.  If anyone needs to order garlic, I can highly recommend these folks.

But I still needed to plant it.  And as all my readers know, we've been having lots of snow and lots of cold!

Well, all I could do was try.  I decided to plant the garlic in the strawberry boat, since the deer and the weather got my strawberries last year.  The boat has some beautiful fertile soil, so it would give the poor chilly garlic the best chance to grow.

First thing to do, of course, was shovel it off.

Then, using a pitchfork, I lanced into the soil and learned to my dismay that the dirt was completely frozen.  Or so I thought!  It turns out it was just the dirt closest to the edge that was frozen.  Surprisingly, everything else was loose and crumbly and not frozen at all.  Phew!

Despite the temperature (25F) it was warm work.  First I discarded my coat.  Then my scarf.  Then my sweatshirt.  It must have been a funny sight to see someone working in a garden in short sleeves with a foot of snow on the ground.

I finally got all the dirt turned over, or at least all I could.

Time to get the garlic.

Not a great photo, but I'm pushing dirt aside with a trowel and planting the garlic with a gloved hand.

Once all hundred cloves were planted, it was time to mulch.  Fortunately there's a lot of old rotten hay near the feed boxes, left over from those four semi-rotten bales we stacked there.  We've already picked through the bad hay to feed the beasties the good hay, so all the rotten stuff is still on the ground, buried in snow.

I piled the hay on one of the kid's black plastic toboggan, invisible under the pile.

With all this snow, a toboggan is about the only way to move something from there to here.

That first toboggan-ful of hay covered about two-thirds of the boat to a depth of ten or twelve inches.

A second toboggan-ful finished it off.

I was racing the sun.  I needed to get this project done before dark.  We're expecting two to five inches of snow tomorrow, and the snow on top the mulch should tuck the garlic in nicely for the winter (I hope).

Loading up the tools.  I'm done for the day.

Will the garlic grow?  I have no idea.  I'm encouraged by how loose and friable the soil was, underneath the snow.  And garlic is pretty hardy.  Time will tell.


  1. Not a garlic-growing comment, but I read your letter on WND about the TSA, et al, and just wanted to stop by and let you know that you are not alone in this. I too am a domestic extremist. My momma raised me right, and I do not intend to abandon freedom and liberty just because a beast government demands it.

    Jerry Davis

  2. It may depend upon how the spring thaw unfolds. I hope after that much work you get a bumper crop. It's cold,windy and snowy here this morning.

  3. I hope it works out! Who knows? Maybe you'll have stumbled upon the optimal planting conditions for garlic. :)

  4. I didn't get my garlic in this year, which does not make me happy. We're expecting 4-6 inches of snow today, so I won't be out in the garden.

  5. I have to tell you, Patrice, I've sure learned a lot from reading your blog! Your knowledge of so many things, as well as your good common sense and perseverance has been very uplifting to my wife and me, as well as friends and relatives of ours whom we referred to your blog. We sure hope your garlic grows, but if not, we all will have learned another good lesson from you, our inspiration in north Idaho! Thank you.

  6. This post was cracking me up. It struck me so, so funny! I truly hope it works well. I'm inspired to try it myself. Thanks for linking the dealer.

    Gracie Wray

  7. Aw shucks, Anonymous 7:11. Thanks.

    - Patrice

  8. Gimme a "G!" .... a cheer for your garlic along with one for the wheat. Jennifer

  9. I just linked here from Survivalblog. I look forward to reading your many items. I'm not usually a comment maker but I had to laugh when I read your garlic story. You'll see why when you read this email I sent to my mother two weeks ago:
    "-9C yesterday at wake up. Amost 2" of snow down and cold all day.
    I harrowed the garden and then planted garlic in a snow squall so bad that I could hardly see one end of the row from the other end. (I had 2lbs of garlic shipped from a farm in Yarmouth and it has to be planted in the
    fall. It arrived late because I signed the cheque in the wrong place. I couldn't let my investment go bad, you know.)"

    I planted 132 cloves and my fingers were COLD.

    Lee Enfield, Maritime Canada.

  10. ROFLOL, Lee! Let's hope ALL our garlic grows!

    And welcome.

    - Patrice

  11. You go, Girl!!!! I said a prayer for your garlic so all will be well. I am 'OCD' about planting my stiff-neck garlic in Nov-Dec here in Massachusetts. Some years they actually sprout after planting and I get to watch the snow pile up around 3-5 inches of new garlic growth among the straw. It looks like they would die but it always comes out fantastic in the end! Believe!!! I talk to people here who want to raise their own garlic but most never quite get around to it, if you know what I mean. Every year I give away lovely large bulbs and cloves to friends and neighbors (along with instructions!) in the hopes that they will actually plant and harvest their own garlic. Patrice, if you ever find yourself needing garlic again and are at a loss, I would be more than happy to share my own meager but delicious garlic with you. I think in the future we will all need to help each other and learn the basics of everything from one another, and I for one am very grateful to you and have learned an immense amount from you and your dynamic and thoughtful posts. We owe you! Now, may I be so bold as to make a suggestion? I would like each of your readers to go to the library and borrow the documentary "1940's House". It is fabulous! British - WWII - Rationing - Everyday Life Without the Basics - Making Do - Getting By with Nothing.... As you watch you will all be very happy that you have food set aside for the future.
    God Bless us All,
    Janet in MA

  12. Thanks, Janet! I appreciate the garlic offer. And LOL about 1940's house. I haven't seen that one but we've watched most of 1900's House, and I couldn't believe the whiny-ness and unprepared mentality of the family they chose to feature (especially the mom - the rest seemed to adapt okay). Shows like that are a definite wake-up call to the rest of us.

    - Patrice

  13. Can you plant garlic bought from WalMart. (in the fresh produce dept.) I know it sounds so dumb that I ask this but I have wondered if garlic is like onions or potatoes and you can chuck it in the ground and it will grow. Forgive my ignorance please!

  14. I don't know if you can plant grocery store garlic or not. Sometimes produce is treated so as not to sprout in an unseemly/ unsightly fashion, such as potatoes. But you know what? Try it and find out. Plant some and see if they grow - then let me know the outcome and I'll post it.

    - Patrice

  15. Go garlic!!

    I've taken to planting any clove I find with a green shoot showing at its tip. I simply step outside on the deck and stuff it into whichever pot of flowers or plants that's handy. It's saved me several trips to the garden when I'm cooking and find myself a bit short on that vital ingredient.

    There is no life without garlic!! lol


  16. Thanks Patrice! I will try and see what happens. I'll let you know too!

  17. I have never grown garlic. I was thinking I might try it this year. Does it have to be planted in the fall? My onions I planted in early spring did real well here in Colorado. I guess I just assumed garlic would be planted like onions.

  18. Hey Patrice,

    That is so cool, planting Garlic in the snow! I love it! No worries, it will grow!

    Avalanche Lily

  19. My best wishes for you and your garlic, Patrice. BUT, with Senate Bill S510 passing, we can all say goodbye to planting our gardens in any season.


  20. Nina, I am surrounded by pot growers. They are breaking federal laws merely by growing the stuff. Nothing happens to them. They make many thousands of dollars - tax free - and nobody says a thing to them. So, they break 2 federal laws by growing and selling pot and nothing happens to them - ever. Additionally, illegals come into America and few of them get sent back to their homelands. In fact, a large percentage of them get all the benefits that a citizen can get. Should we then worry about what the government says regarding home gardens? Frankly, I'd like to see them arrest me for growing garlic in my yard. They would first have to deal with my bad breath and then they'd have to deal with my neighbors, or else they would be selectively applying the law - which is unconstitutional. Let's not bow down to the socialists, let's stand up to them! (If my comments suddenly stop coming, you know the feds found my garlic crop.) :)

    Anonymous Patriot

  21. I planted grocery store garlic and it never produced cloves...but, I planted in the spring because I didn't know (I'm beginning to hate that gardening book) that they should be planted in the fall.

    My recommendation is, if you're going to plant grocery store garlic, buy the organic version. Then, you know it hasn't been treated.


  22. I'll hold you to that Ms. AP. Everyone is so brave until you hear that unexpected knock on your door. That's where the rubber hits the road.

  23. Anonymous 3:48pm, it's people like you who make me question why anybody would fight for this country. Why should our troops risk their lives for a nation of cowards? Too afraid to grow garlic? Then stay in bed with the covers pulled over your head.

    I never claimed to be brave. But I do not fear that which is ludicrous. I do not fear that which has little to do with homegrown garlic and instead has everything to do with suppressing our farmers and ranchers to the benefit of foreign farmers and ranchers. I do not fear the government as much as I fear American citizens who have lost their independent spirit.

    Thankfully, you are not the norm.