One year, I had to leave my garlic and move to Taiwan for a while. It was not just my garlic that I left behind, but a whole garden approaching full harvest in early August of 2008. With a lump in my chest, but an eye on adventure, I left, hoping the harvest would be enjoyed by others.
For some reason, among all the vegetables, the garlic was neglected. It was left to multiply, resulting in crowding bulbs that got smaller and smaller. After almost a year, when I returned home in late March of 2009, it looked like thick clumps of grass above the dirt. When I dug, I only found tiny cloves, not even formed into bulbs anymore. Since my daily schedule still involved a lot of adjustments from global galavanting, I decided to let them grow until fall garlic planting time.
Unwilling to give up on my garlic, I transplanted it for three years without good results. It seemed to be having a hard time recovering from the shock of over crowding. It stayed small and didn’t form nice looking bulbs. I’m not all about looks, but it is frustrating to have to cut up several miniature cloves to replace one in a recipe. Plus, the flavor seemed to be suffering, too.
Then this year, after it escaped from the lettuce, the garlic blades began to look robust again. I dug some up and found that some of the cloves were larger. Call me stubborn, but I decided to transplant it one more time! Besides, the garlic that I had purchased for next year’s crop hadn’t divided as far as I had estimated. There was plenty of room in the bed still.
I extended the new garlic rows by digging a trench about 4 inches deep. The tenacious garlic came out of the ground with not too much effort, as I tried to leave the roots unmolested. I would have left dirt on, but I did want to divide the cloves and the dirt wasn’t sticking much anyway. Planting depth was easy to judge with the green already growing.
Once the newest transplants were completely in place, all the plants looked the same. The bamboo stakes near the middle of the raised bed are markers. The newly purchased garlic was planted at the top of the photo. The garlic that I haven’t yet given up on is in the bottom half of the photo. It will be interesting to see if I can tell the difference next summer, when I harvest garlic again.