Last time, I wrote about facing up and facing down. This week I’ve put a twist on that idea. I’m looking up and looking down.
Poultry in the United Kingdom has been in lockdown for months, because of Avian Flu. Our little flock can’t run about the garden any more. They are in an enclosure, well away from wild birds. I go out each evening to shut the hen coop door. They’re completely safe from foxes within their run, but it keeps the birds warmer. I collect the feeder and empty the drinkers, so the contents won’t freeze overnight.
Down On The Ground
As the torch beam swept across the garden one evening this week, I spotted something. There, against the dark earth was one small shoot of garlic. I could hardly believe it. At a local food festival last October I’d bought a head of garlic for planting. The cloves had shot up so fast, I ordered another three heads direct from the suppliers. These arrived in early November. The weather was still very mild, so I expected them to grow as fast as the original cloves.
Then the autumn rains started. Weeks went by without a single dry day. Christmas came and went, and there was still no sign of my second planting of garlic cloves. I thought they must have rotted off in the wet ground.
Now here was one brave survivor after more than two months hidden away in the sodden soil. It was too cold to hang about that night, but I told myself that if one clove had managed to survive, there should be others.
Next morning I went out at 7am to open the hen coop. There had been a dusting of snow, but the sky had cleared. Looking up, I saw the full moon glowing gold. It was low over the Sitka plantation, but high in the sky a flock of redwings called as they flew over to the orchards of Herefordshire.
The moonlight was so bright it was almost light enough to see what I was doing without the torch. A covering of snow on the frozen, sloping path made the going tricky. I had to watch my step. As I filled the drinkers and put out the poultry feeder, I could hear a hen purring in her sleep. Then a fox barked from the other side of the hazel thicket, and she went quiet.
After I had finished with the hens, I went to check on the garlic. The one shoot I had seen the night before was no fluke. Just enough snow had fallen overnight to throw more shoots into relief against the soil surface. While my fingers and toes turned into icicles I counted twenty four little nibs. Together with the dozen plants which had shot up back in the autumn, it’s tempting to think there will be plenty of fat garlic cloves for the kitchen this year. I’m already planning to get more varieties from The Garlic Farm for planting in autumn this year.
Are you planning to do any gardening this year?