Saturday, November 7, 2009

Happy New (Garlic) Year

Recently, I had the pleasure of spending a cool, fall morning volunteering at Serving Ourselves Farm. Located on Long Island in Boston Harbor, the farm is a beautiful spot to enjoy these last autumn days when you can still feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Our task for the morning? Planting garlic for next year. Although the fields will lie mostly dormant until the first onion sets are put down next spring, this is the first official planting of the coming season. As winter approaches, it's a simple and wonderful comfort to think that, even as this year's harvests are winding down with the last few crops of hearty greens, next year's cycle is already beginning. As was proclaimed out in the fields that morning, Let the 2010 planting begin!

Cloves of various varieties, such as German Porcelain White, wait in the back of the truck to be taken to the larger field.

Before planting can begin, we rake for weeds, smooth the beds, and mark rows in our best approximation of straight lines.

Out in the field, the seed cloves whose duty has been reassigned from make yummy food to make more garlic!

Planting works best as a team effort. Garlic should be planted six inches apart, so one person uses a notched measuring stick to lay out the cloves with proper spacing. Two of us follow behind, tucking each clove just under the surface, "butt end down."

It's a little tough to tell from this picture, but this clove of garlic was positively gigantic! You can get some sense of scale from the other cloves around it, as well as the busy earthworm. In the upper right corner you can also see one of the cloves that has been tucked away for the winter, its upper tip just peeking out through the soil.

Last but not least, the beds are covered with six inches of straw to keep them warm(ish) and protected through the harsh Boston winter.

Come April there will be fresh garlic and yummy garlic scapes in abundance.
Already I cannot wait for spring.

For more information on the farm and its job training programs for Boston's homeless, click here to read my article from last summer's Edible Boston magazine.

For more information on how you can volunteer at the farm or at the shelter on Long Island, contact Mariann Bucina at

1 comment: