July 18, 2014

Behind The Hedges // Our Garlic Is Dead, No?




This year is our first year as allotment holders. Tucked away on Sheffield’s hillside, our plot is lined up with 29 other gardens. With keen garden neighbours all around us, advice, tips and help is never far even in the most daunting situations. In Behindthe hedges I would like to share my experience in gardening and being part of a great community that is our little allotment society.

For many months the garlic was our greatest success in our young allotment career. Planted at the end of last November as our very first plants, they were for the longest time the only living reminder why we did what we did. It was a green patch of hope amongst the mess of weed, rubbish and soil, which   occupied our garden for most of winter and spring.

It wasn’t until late into spring that the garlic was joined by other young plants, but none of them was as thriving and plentiful as the garlic.
Then one Thursday afternoon we walked up to the allotment to water the thirsty plants to find some garlic stalks lying lifeless on the ground. We were shocked. What had happened? Surely they couldn’t have been that thirsty. So, who dared to knock our garlic over? A fox?  A bl**dy badger?  
Wildly guessing at the perpetrator that harmed our proudest garden inhabitants, we decided to water the garlic first, hoping the cold splash would restore its energy. Days past, then weeks in which we carefully watered, fed and observed the garlic almost every day, but the scene stayed unchanged. If at all it appeared that more stalks had been knocked down. What made it worse, the stalks started to show rusty patches. Clearly that couldn’t be anything good.

Just about when we were ready to say Good bye to our idea of a fruitful garlic harvest our most trusted allotment neighbour stopped by. ”Oh”, he said, joining us at the garlic patch. “I see your garlic is ready.” Ready? Did he just say read? We exchanged puzzled looks.
“Really, they are not just dead?”
“Dead? Oh no. When the stalks start to go down the bulbs are ready for harvest.”
“They are not dead? They are ready to be pulled out?”
“Yes, yes, they are ready!”
“Haha, they are alive! Did you hear that, they are alive and ready!”

It took a few minutes to process, but then I immediately ran for the fork to start digging. “They are not dying”, I shouted in joy. “They are ready!” Oh how ready they were: Ten minutes later we were holding up more than 30 juicy, sweet smelling bulbs of garlic. The most exciting overload of garlic I ever had.  

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