Down & Dirty
Posted 1/1/2008 7:52pm by Eugene Wyatt.
If I said, 'We did it,' I would be lying; Dominique did it. She planted over 8000 garlic cloves in 4000 row feet. It took her three days and it rained the first two. I couldn't help her on Friday as I was getting ready for market then I was in New York all day Saturday, but I did help her cover 1500 row feet of exposed cloves on Sunday, working in ankle deep mud that was a degree above freezing. Look at the iced-over mud at her feet Sunday afternoon as the temperature dropped.
Sane people would not have planted garlic this late in the cold year but we are not sane people, we are farmers.
We were blessed by the fact that the field was not visible from the road; we were not seen by people driving by who 'know better' or knew that at any time before the clove had rooted, the ground could freeze hard, then thaw, then freeze again and heave most of the just planted cloves out of the ground.
Farmers are gamblers, we always bet on the weather; yet no matter how good or bad a farmer is, half the time the farmer loses. Good farmers must be good losers or become accountants.
Here Dominique puts a post in to string a row that will guide the planting of the cloves in a straight line along the bed so weeding in the Spring will be easier. "Weeding in the Spring?" did I hear you say, my good optimist, 'as if there will be any garlic growing then to weed.' But farmers must be optimists to wager against the elements for a living as they do and they must be singers to sing over and drown out the voices that question them.
Each bed has 4 stringed rows which are spaced about 12" apart; the garlic cloves are placed in dibbled holes from 6" to 8" apart along the row. The spacing is theory because at these temperatures you do what you can do, where you can do it, and keep moving to try to stay warm. You don't look back and you keep on singing.
Garlic charms. It is the stuff that stops vampires from sucking the life force from the Universe. That tale of garlic's spell is as old as the dibble, the pointed wooden tool by Dominique's left foot.
The dibble was probably man's second tool, being the other end of his first tool, the hammer which was used to break open gathered nuts and to occasionally smash the heads of fat French rats, early delicacies, which were excellent roasted with garlic, or so the Lascaux cave paintings tell us. The dibble is ingenious; it makes a hole that soon covers itself after you punch it in the ground to plant a garlic clove. It works as well today as it did for our Neolithic ancestors; that's what engineers at Monsanto found out after spending several years trying to modify the dibble so they could patent a new and improved version of it, but like the vampires before them they failed. Garlic not only charms, it rules.