When we left Steamboat, a friend gifted me something very special: a bulb of her homegrown garlic.
This garlic is something my friend guards. The mincing of just a clove results in an amount measured in parts of a cup – not mere tablespoons or teaspoons! The flavor is spicy and garlicky and absolutely perfect.
Using tips shared by an old gardener and friend, she cultivated this garlic carefully. Over the last couple of years, she finally surpassed her mentor at the county fair. Their lighthearted rivalry showed their love for each other. When he passed away last year, her sadness was tinged with the spicy tang of allium.
One of the last times my friend visited our Steamboat home, she presented me with the bulb. “Plant it during the new moon in October. Make sure the root side is down and the pointy end is up, and plant it twice as deep as it is tall,” she pronounced solemnly.
I planted the garlic in my mother-in-law’s backyard (since we were staying there) during the new moon in October. I followed her directions to the letter. In my experience, garlic just comes up. Nothing too hard about that part.
Back at the end of February, tiny leaves broke through the ground and I felt like God had smiled down upon me. Their little green sprouts pushed through the dirt and mulch. I had to search a bit for all ten.
Now, the little plants parade proudly along her wall.
My problems usually come later in the year, but I’ve asked a ton of questions.
Q: When do I cut back the scapes?
A: When you see them forming. Don’t wait!
Q: Can I eat the scapes?
A: I suppose, but who would want to? (Me! I use them like garlic in my cooking.)
Q: When do I dig up the bulbs?
A: When the greens start to die back.
With these instructions, I expect to be able to harvest all ten, and plan to reserve two of them for planting in the fall.
Oh yes. The Steamboat garlic has made it to the east coast.
Now all I have to do is keep it going.