On Sunday I harvested a a school year’s worth of garlic. They take that long to grow. Growing garlic requires patience and faith that the end result will be remarkable. It’s like cultivating a group of kids, then graduating and gifting them to the world. As I carefully extracted each head of garlic from the ground, shook off dirt and trimmed the leaves and gangly roots, I thought how parallel some parts of the process are to what we do with our children for an entire school year. Some I placed in a dark cabinet outside to dry for future use and others made it into the house, lined up on our kitchen counter, prepped and ready to be dispersed to friends or for personal use.
Growing garlic takes planning. In early fall, single cloves are placed in the ground, pointy side up, taking care to be sure there is plenty of space for each one to grow to maturity. The leaves on harvest day were over two feet long. Garlic needs plenty of water and sunshine. One of the hardest parts of growing garlic is the urge to pull it from the ground too soon. Even when it looks like they might be ready, the cloves need extra time to fill in before harvest.
With garlic, the yield isn’t anywhere near the amount of food you have from plants like kale, chard or peas. Yet what garlic offers in terms of flavor and healing properties (some research has shown garlic successfully used to treat heart disease, lower cholesterol, relieve rheumatoid arthritis, and serve as a natural antibiotic) makes all the time and care worthwhile. It’s a long term gardening relationship I’m willing to be a part of each year.
On Wednesday, the Seed graduated its 3rd/4th grade class of 2014. There were thirteen in all and they are a class that will be remembered. Two of the girls have been at the Seed since the Toddler 1s class, with their families’ Seed years totaling 21. They are a group of problem solvers, question askers, poets, artists, scientists, animal lovers, caretakers of the planet. Unlike the garlic that will be stored away for awhile till needed for future use, they will enter the world beyond the Seed immediately, ready to share their essence with everyone with whom they come in contact. They will offer their intelligence, humor, kindness and curiosity to all who touch their lives, elevating the world around them, just as they’ve done at the Seed for the past several year. They will be missed and I look forward to their tales of growing up.