One could rightly say that the trouble began with the garlic. Rather, the trouble began with me getting carried away with the garlic. It's an understandable problem. We like garlic. We use garlic. Lots of garlic. And the catalog descriptions all sounded so appealing. And so last fall I ordered lots of garlic to plant. Eleven rows worth of garlic as it turned out. Two-hundred-and-seventy-five feet worth of garlic. And it was only the descent of winter that prevented me from going further.
Fast forward to the approach of spring and trays full of seeds germinating in the greenhouse. I finally carved out time to work on this year's layout using the garden planner software from Mother Earth News. It's an incredible tool, assisting with garden design, yearly plant rotation, growing guides, scheduling, plant spacing and more -- all localized according to the average frost patterns of our specific address. I sat down at the computer in the company of my plant list and began to drag and drop the varieties into the virtual rows. I was well into the process when I remembered the garlic already in the ground since November. I excavated from my files the names of the varietals planted, along with my scribbled notes of which had been planted where, and added them to the layout; then continued with the other vegetables intended for the season.
here to see the plan) -- including the new expansion rows I have imagined outside the fence to the north and the east -- and everything fit...
...except the peppers (of which there are nine varieties)...
...and the tomatoes (of which there are 17 varieties). In previous years I have planted close to 100 tomato plants. Fifty to seventy-five pepper plants. All this not counting the herbs I'll plant on the deck and the fall varieties I have kept in reserve. Where is it all to go?
"Good thing we have plenty of land," she mused.
"That garlic better be really good," I muttered.
But of course it will be. It's garlic, after all. All eight varieties. And once I find a place for the peppers and tomatoes and the harvest is eventually in, the marriage of all three -- a culinary Holy Trinity if ever there was one -- will almost certainly affirm the value of surmounting the challenge of their planting.
For now, however, my muscles are already groaning in anticipation. It will be work turning all that soil -- tilling, shoveling, forking, composting, nourishing. But, then, "making room" is always strenuous, I suppose, whether the crowding party is a new idea, a new belief, a new perspective, a new neighbor...
...or simply a few tomatoes and peppers. If previous salsas are any indication, however, the effort is more than worth it.