Magical happenings in the garden

I suppose you’ve heard about the biblical miracle of the loaves and the fishes?

And what about Jack’s magical beans? I’m sure you’ve heard something about that.

But the stupendous multiplying garlic plants in my garden this summer? You probably haven’t heard that one.

Garlic is a rather new arrival in our garden. I think this year’s harvest is our fourth.

We like growing it because, well, we like garlic. Also, it’s incredibly easy to grow. You dig rows of little holes in the fall, drop a clove of garlic in each one, cover them up and wait for spring, when plants start to grow.

At some point a shoot takes off from the middle of the plant, develops a bulge somewhere close to the end and grows into a curl. That’s called a garlic scape, and you have to cut them off once the curl is complete. Not only does doing that help the garlic plants grow better, but the scapes are good to eat — cut up in salads, cooked up in stir fries or even whizzed up in a food processor with olive oil and parmesan cheese, frozen into cubes and saved to add to soups and other dishes during the cold winter months.

We have a friend who grows garlic on his farm and were horrified to discover he was cutting off his scapes and throwing them in the bush. He’s now under strict orders to give us all his scapes — which he does.

Anyhow, garlic is my kind of garden project. Plant 48 garlic cloves in the fall and pull 48 garlic bulbs out of the ground the next summer.

Except this year.

This summer, after planting 48 garlic cloves last fall, we recently pulled 72 garlic bulbs out of the ground.

According to the woman who sells garlic at our farmers’ market, those bulges that develop on the scape contain a bunch of tear-drop shaped bulbils, that if planted will grow into small round garlic bulbs that aren’t divided into cloves. And now that she mentioned it, yes, a lot of this year’s extra garlic bulbs were small and round and weren’t divided into cloves.

Even though we thought we had dutifully collected all our scapes, we must have missed some or dropped them on the ground.

So that’s the scientific explanation for what happened. I prefer to tell anyone who will listen about our August garlic miracle.

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