happy garlic

Penny Stine/The Daily Sentinel

I planted garlic in the northwest corner of my garden last fall because this spot gets maximum sunshine in June, as the setting sun bakes everything in that corner for about a month. The garlic sprouted in the middle of winter, then languished for a couple of months due to dry conditions. Once it got regular irrigation, it started looking healthy again. Of course the weeds are even healthier.

I love it when plants and desired crops do just what I’m hopeful they will do out in the garden, especially in the springtime.

It’s a boost of positivity that causes me to lose my mind and buy 15 tomato plants instead of 10.

I planted asparagus years ago, but because I didn’t want to be a neat, orderly gardener with everything in tidy rows, I planted it in random places.

That’s a terrible way to grow asparagus, as I quickly discovered when I realized asparagus doesn’t sprout or grow in any sort of regular fashion (nor does it look like asparagus in the first year). So I forgot where I planted most of it, and dug it up by mistake.

I planted more, but still didn’t learn my lesson, choosing to put it in a few marginal places, hopeful it would produce in the limited sunshine. It was not happy.

The following year, I planted it in a row in my front flower bed, where I would remember I had planted it and where it would be happy with the sunshine and water. My perennials in that bed are now growing around the asparagus, which still pops up randomly this time of year.

Last year, that bed was probably 3 years old, so the stalks weren’t enormous. This year, they’re popping up a little more regularly and are still on the slender side, but quite tasty nonetheless.

I also have rediscovered where I previously planted some other stalks, so sometimes, I can pick three or four stalks on the same day.

Obviously, it’s going to take a week or so to have enough for a side dish, and maybe even more time to make Orvieto Sauce, which is a fabulous pasta sauce with pancetta, asparagus and mushrooms.

I got the recipe from a Nick Stellino cookbook. Copyright laws prohibit me from reprinting it, but if you Google it, you’ll find it plastered everywhere.

It’s truly delicious, even if you choose to substitute bacon or ham for the pancetta because you opt not to sell your firstborn in order to afford the pancetta.

The garlic I planted last fall is in a place that looks perfect for it, and it only took me 10 years to figure that out, so I count that as a win for this year, too.

I opted to plant all of the garlic in one place, which was a first for me, but it’s proving to be a smart choice. It’s in the edge of a corner bed on the northwest side of my garden, where it will get maximum sunshine in June when the sun is setting in the northwest.

I’m hopeful the sun will encourage the garlic bulbs to grow to enormous sizes. It’s so sad to dig garlic in early July and find more than a dozen heads of garlic smaller than walnuts because I planted them in a spot that is sunny in November but shady in June.

On top of all that good gardening news, I discovered the spinach I planted in the fall did not get stomped out of existence by the Asplundh Tree Service guys, who were trimming the trees next to my garden to keep branches from falling on power lines.

Since the winter was so dry, hardly any of the spinach sprouted in February like it normally does, and evidently the seeds didn’t care that heavy work boots waltzed all over them in March. Now that the bed is getting regular water, there are dozens of spinach plants sprouting.

With all of these successful garden experiences, I will likely buy twice as many tomato plants as any two people could possibly need. There’s only one way to deal with this giddy gardening feeling, obviously, and that’s to buy more plants.


Penny Stine is the staff writer for The Daily Sentinel’s Special Sections department and can be reached at Penny.Stine@gjsentinel.com.