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Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Garlic in Winter: Embracing Whatever Comes

I planted my garlic late this year.  A combination of busyness, slight family trauma and an unusually warm autumn found me scrambling in late November to get my treasured cloves into the ground before the first frost. You're supposed to do this about six weeks before the first frost.  I was less than two weeks away from the first large snowstorm, with lows predicted in the teens.  I hurried, but feared I was too late.

Because my critter-proof growing beds are still in the planning stages, I opted for the 'growing in pots' method again.  I have several that line the little bridge which joins our steps to our front door and I grow all manner of things there, where it is warmed nicely by full sun and yet slightly protected from the deer.

I planted several pots.  From elephant garlic--a new addition this year--to traditional hardneck, I set out several varieties just to see what would happen.  I've had great luck in the past.

Garlic in snow country is always planted in the late autumn, well before the first frost.  Deeper in areas of significant cold and snow and shallower in warmer climes, but always tucked up in late fall to over-winter in my area.

In spring, they push up through the earth very early, growing quite tall through spring and then starting to brown and wither in mid-summer, which signals harvest is imminent.  I always love eating the first garlic leaves and scapes (resisting the delicious urge to harvest them ALL at the expense of the bulbs!).  It's usually one of the earliest bounties my garden provides.

This year, however, something is peculiar.

Snow began 2 weeks after planting
Within about a week of planting (pointy end up!), tiny green tips began to emerge.  Despite the
freezing temperatures, and being in pots, which is colder than the ground, my little cloves decided it was spring.  I wasn't sure what to do.  I wasn't sure there was anything TO do!!

Less than a week after that, a huge storm moved in.  Bring temps down to the mid-teens and about a foot of snow, I was CERTAIN my garlic was a gonner.

But the little guys kept growing.

Shoots completely covered
The snow has now melted and we are now in the throes of a mild stretch of weather.  The garlic definitely thinks it's deep spring.

I don't know what this will mean for harvest.  If winter returns, as it is supposed to, and we have months of icy snow and deep freezes, I don't know what the impact will be on the development of the garlic.

Perhaps it will falter and fail.

Perhaps it will continue to thrive in seasons and weather and conditions it shouldn't. 

I'm sensing a lesson there and am determined to learn it well:  I want to listen to the tiny, whispery God-breathed voice inside myself telling me when it's time to hunker down and over-winter and when it is time to be released into my purpose.

I'm going to listen to that, this year. . .not my circumstances.  I don't care if the ground is covered with snow. . .when it's time to spark into life, I'm going to SOAR!

January 1st: Thriving!

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