Starting with the seeds and soil

seed garlic

Gray skies, frosty ground, and nearly freezing air.  Its the tail end of the growing season here.  This is the time when longing for a comfortable seat by the woodstove is balanced with cheeks flushed as I warm up with physical work in the cold air. Of course I am not farming full time this year, but the other day I went to the community garden to accomplish the last task of the season:  planting garlic.

Like the tulip bulbs I planted all over yard in autumn as a child, garlic goes into the ground in late October.  Its nice to have one crop that is already taken care of when its time to start planting in the spring.  After a long winter’s slumber in the frozen ground the garlic will sprout strong and green.  The smell of the cloves as I separate each one reminds me of the flavorful bulb that each one will become.

ready to plant for next season

On this quiet overcast morning, a few birds burst in and out of the trees.  The dampness from the frost on the fading green grass and the fiery colors of the leaves provides a bright contrast against the sky.  The air is cold, and the ground likely too, but to protect myself from this I wear a pair of dusty work gloves.  I hate to shield my hands from really getting into the earth but they would be way to cold to work if I didn’t.  As I move the spading fork into the ground to loosen the soil in this bed my body becomes warm and the cool air on my cheeks and the smell of the cold damp remind me how good it is to be alive.  To be alive and outside in this small patch of earth, which, I hope has fed many this season.  We were able to harvest about 2500 pounds of produce this year, and hopefully this made a small difference to those who need.  Now is the beginning of the time for the garden’s rest.

Garlic planting is often a welcome marker of the end of the garden year.  All the harvesting is done, the beds are cleared and each clove of garlic gets tucked deep into the soil to rest for months before the cycle begins again.  Even though I am putting the garden to bed, I find the smells of the soil, the garlic, the leaves fluttering down from trees to the earth, are all reawakening my desire to do more of this.  I have been in the kitchen a lot lately.  I love dreaming up new creations and the excitement of making something delicious, satisfying and sustaining.  Back in the garden, though, I am reminded of how much further I want to go into the process:  food starting with the seeds and soil long before it reaches the kitchen or a plate.

I admire, and slightly envy, those who have found their dreams and are pursuing them relentlessly.  I have my dream of growing lots of vegetables and of a small farm and I know that this dream will eventually sprout strongly out of the ground.  For now, though, I am part of an equally beautiful and fulfilling dream where Ray and I have to work together to figure out how our future will happen.  We’re working on plans that will work for both of us and, while I hope to do a lot more vegetable growing in the next season or so, the larger dream will probably have to slumber in the ground until the time is right to grow further.  The soil is rich and soft and full of life.

End of the garden year

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