A few days ago, my friend texted me a question. A couple of minutes later, another text, and another a bit later. And then an accusation, because I wasn’t answering: “you’re in the garden, aren’t you.” I was.
Like pretty much everyone, it seems, I am focusing a lot on my garden right now. This is funny, because we haven’t passed the last frost date, so while I have a few things planted, most of what I am doing is preparing. Preparing in ways that I’ve never done before, setting up my raised beds, sure, but persnickety-ing the slopes of our yard, expanding the edible part of the garden into Weedville, reconsidering my long-held stance that annual flowers are for fools.
I put my first raised bed in seven (I think?) years ago, and each year, have slowly added beds and trees and bushes and patches. I’m not good at this, because I refuse to learn lessons in any way other than the hard way, and with gardening, that takes an entire year each time. Wrankled carrots, literally thousands too many basil plants, oh man that tree that grew six feet last year means that this area is no longer “full sun.” But seven years in, it more or less works.
My parents have a garlic patch that just kind of grows on its own, which I took to mean that garlic was easy and would choke out weeds. It wasn’t until after I planted the bulbs a few weeks (decades? What is time anyway?) ago that I saw that “garlic hates competition.” Also the internet keeps insisting that I replant it every year but like I know my parents do not and I’m going to do my best to follow suit.
At any rate, I planted the bulbs (I also read, post-planting, that you should plant in the fall. But also it says you can plant in the spring so let’s just pretend I know what I’m doing), and then realized that if I wanted them to actually grow, the thick thick grass had to go. In case you are wondering, young garlic plants look a lot like thick grass.
In normal times, I’d just give up, lesson learned, try again next year. But these are unprecedented times.
So that’s where I’ve been. When I read about mass graves in New York, when my student tells me he’s the only one at his Walmart job wearing gloves and a mask and another tells me about his mother’s work at the hospital, when my neighbors can’t buy groceries because their jobs disappeared, when Viv asks if she gets to go back to school on Monday. Picking through the thick grass, is it grass or is it garlic?, twisting and yanking and pulling.
In my mind, it makes total sense for me to be pulling grass out one blade at a time. This garlic patch is going to be so amazing. Except I can’t help but think that Olaf from Frozen 2 (sorry not sorry) would call this “controlling what you can when things feel out of control.”
I wonder how things will look a year from now, two years from now. I hope mostly normal, but it’s anybody’s guess. What I can say is this: there will be a lot of garlic.