Sometimes it is easier to just start over, sometimes it is worth the time and effort to rehabilitate things. The garlic of our garden is one of those things that I’ve decided will be worth the effort to rehabilitate.
Several years ago now, we moved to this area from Pennsylvania. We brought with us, like the travelers of old, some of our prized seed. For us it came in the form of the two varieties of garlic we grew which were on their 5th or 6th season. We had come to love one variety in particular simply for its ease of use. It kept well, was fairly easy to peel, and only a clove was needed for most recipes because the cloves came the size of two thumbs, one layer deep about 5-6 to a bulb. The only draw back being we had to reserve 20% of the crop for replanting.
When we arrived in Nebraska, a bed was prepared early in the spring, the garlic was planted, and then tended to for a year. Then we realized that the full weight of keeping up with twins and school during the summer was going to mean not keeping up with a garden. So the garlic has grown for the last 6 years, and divided for the last sux years, and though it looked like a weed patch, I kept mowing around it and letting it grow for another year.
This spring, as a major part of preparing The Forming Spirit, the garden was brought back into our life. Beds were prepared, and in a section of them, an experiment was tried. The garlic which had been growing and dividing, and growing and dividing was carefully dug up, separated into what I hoped were the two varieties we had brought, and then the best plants of each variety were chosen and planted in the garden, with room to put down roots, water to help them grow, and plenty of light all to themselves.
I will report, they did not come roaring back to life like I hoped that they would and a few of them didn’t make it. Most of them did though, and upon harvest, they had produced small bulbs of garlic, with small cloves. I probably won’t be eating much of it this year, but what I have to plant for next year is larger and healthier than what I started with this season, which will, I hope, produce a crop that is larger and healthier again.
This is the nature of rehabilitation, it takes time, several seasons perhaps, to undo the neglect something has gone through, to fix the brokenness that is present. It is, in many ways, the more difficult path to take. It is also the path though, of hope, and of relationship, and of love.
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Patrick Sipes is the founder and director of The Forming Spirit. You can learn more about him here.