June 21st brings the shortest night of the year.
It is also the day that the garlic stops growing and starts drying out in preparation for reseeding itself and starting the cycle again in the fall. The scapes will keep pushing out, curling and toughening into seed heads that will, should any escape the dinner plate, become funny little flowers that the bees will work. But the bulbs are done. Next month we will intervene, pulling at the hard necks anchored home by the grip of their shock of long fibrous roots. We will let the plants — stem, bulb and root– air dry, safe from sun and rain, for a couple of weeks before shattering the papery bulbs into cloves. Cloves to be sorted into piles with the largest and best and and least blemished destined for next year’s crop while the rest will be stored or sold.
It is the fate of the farmer to plan for the next season at the height of the current one. Sometimes we fail to stop and enjoy what is happening right now. But today is so glorious it would take more will than I have to not pay attention and celebrate our longest day.