Posted by: David | July 29, 2011

Placebo: No Refill

Hi friends. Been a while … Sorry about this, but I refuse to apologize. Dammit. I’m run down and weary. I’ll blame it on work again. Projects are going along steadily, but it’s been a bit of a grind. At least I’m sleeping well. But, as one reader commented, it leaves me with zero thoughts … as advertised.

Finally cut off the garlic scapes a couple weeks back.

Verkakte woodpecker! Seed flinging menace!

Already reported that the deer have destroyed pretty much all of our brassicas: cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, brussells sprouts, etc. That’s quite a disappointment. However, we have some other crops that are coming in well. Tomatoes and potatoes, tomatillos, and maybe we’ll get some peppers. The deer munched those down pretty well too.

Pumpkins, winter squash vines are vibrant, and corn is about 7′ high and tasseling.

One thing to report about the corn patch behind the barn is that the earthworm population, which I’ve unsuccessfully tried to photograph, is truly astounding. Every weed I pull has at least 5 plump worms wriggling from its roots. The soil is loose and granular and moist, almost pure earthworm casings. I’m going to try to move some of this soil over to the backyard beds, which are in need of enrichment. Not sure why the earthworm population has exploded so, but besides all the usual winter’s worth of horse manure and bedding, I chopped up all the cornstalks early last fall and worked them into the soil.  Also added more wood ashes than usual when there was still snow in the early spring.

The horseradish is looking impressively large. Maybe it can be divided. Need to find out how to do this.

And the garlic has been a success. The oat straw mulch got pulled back a month ago. You can sorta see it smooshed into the pathways between beds. It was decided to let the scapes go and see if that really improves the storage qualities of the bulbs, as the interwebs tell me …

See the straw mulch between the beds? This lets the bulbs begin to dry out some.

A couple weeks after finally cutting off the scapes, most of which had matured to almost bursting, it was finally time to harvest the bulbs. There was rain in the forecast last week, after a long spell of dry weather. It had actually rained a bit the day I harvested, but not enough to really saturate the soil. The bulbs came up easily and were nicely sized. It took an hour or two to harvest both beds. Remember that I’d planted 373 cloves last fall. It was a few wheelbarrow loads. Quite a lot of garlic. Yeah.  It was all stacked on top of the firewood pile where it now sits curing.

Needs to cure for a few weeks.

I went for a nice bike ride last Sunday. Finally managed to break the 50 mile barrier for the first time this summer. Found something interesting on the way back from Henniker.

Roadside detritus catalog. Speculate on this one if you dare.

I borrowed a nice new iMac from work for a weekend to try to make a DVD of a lovely wedding we attended on July 16. Was hoping that the iMac and iMovie software would do a better job than Windows Live Movie Maker, which though it took less time, turned out a DVD of quality reminiscent of the VHS days. The iMac did a little better, but not much. The camera was a 3 year old Canon non-HD model. It was really the limiting factor I believe.

The dialog on the screen is reporting the failure of the Superdrive Firmware Update, in case any geeks out there want to know.

Cold cucumber soup we had for dinner during the heat wave. It’s delicious and cooling. Borage flowers are the garnish.

Onion flowers. We’re hoping to collect onion seeds for planting next spring.

Leek flowers. Onion flowers behind them. They’re so pretty.

So, that’s all for July 2011. Hope to get in a good bike ride or two this weekend, and hope that you have a nice weekend too. Thanks for visiting.


  1. I think Bunny is ready to plant onions and leeks just for the flowers. 😛 When she has the time I’m sure she will do it for the flowers as well as the veggies. Beautiful garden and pics, David.

    Thanks Peter. Gardening is one of the things that keeps me sane. I think.

  2. Awesome garlic crop! Mine were ok in spite of the rust. I’m moving the bed though, for next year. Your onion flowers are so pretty, like hovering space ships. I grow allium bulbs bred just for the flowers, sometimes enormous blooms. They sort of pop out of the border or bed on tall stems and hang there, purple spheres, maybe broadcasting a message to the onions in the garden. And no, sorry, I’m not taking the bait on your bike trip “find” but I’ll be checking back to see how that goes…

    Thank you linniew! Watching the bulbs cure, I’m starting to think that they’re really pretty well-sized on average, even though I left the scapes alone until a week or two before harvesting. Time will tell if they store better, which is what some garlic websites say is a possible benefit of leaving the scapes. There’s also an interesting variation in the bulbil heads, which deserves some photographic attention.

    I’ve found some pretty weird stuff bicycling the roads around here. Probably explains why my average cycling speed is relatively low.

  3. What a lovely post! Congrats on the garlic. Looks fantastic! You inspired me. I planted 50 cloves in your honor!

    Thank you Angie. Really? You planted garlic in high summer? That should be interesting. I guess you’re in a more temperate zone out there in CA.

    The silly thing about the garlic is how many years we gardened without planting it. It’s only in the past 5 years that I’ve been experimenting with it. It’s about time!

  4. Lovely photos, beautiful soup!

    Well thank you S. Le. That was some creepy clip. That amazing Gene Wilder, there’s nothing he won’t do for the movies. What a trooper! (trouper?) Also amazing is how many times Alice in Wonderland has been done.

    • With a garden like yours, it’s no wonder you’ve got nil time to post. (There’s a provided excuse for you to use.)

      That’s clever, thank you. I’ve never thought to use that as an excuse for my lack of bloggitude. Sorry, but my hands are FILTHY from weeding the onions and I daren’t touch the keyboard …

      • DAREN’T is a good word.

        Yeah I know. But I use it anyways. Anyways is also not a good word. 🙂

  5. Awesome as always. Have you ever attempted growing Fennel? Do you like fennel? I can send you an awesome recipe (awesome seems to be my word all of a sudden) for cod/potatos/fennel and then you can grow some fennel and tell me how to do it. Will ya?

    Hi C! Thanks for that awesome comment. I love awesome too. It’s so, uh, awesome.

    We have some bronze fennel in our garden. We hardly ever do anything with it, but we like it and let it grow every year. I guess it’s a perennial. I’m sure it would grow nicely for you down there in MA. Please do send that recipe, we eat cod fairly often.

    • How about a link? Because this way I won’t have to get up out of my chair to find the printed copy just to find out it was exactly what I found searching the internet… Apologies if you don’t like Rachael Ray but really, this is yumminess:

      Bronze fennel? We attempted “just fennel” last year and it was tiny. But it came back with a vengeance this year and so we dug it up but the bulb did not look anything like the wonderful stuff you can buy and StopAndShop. It looked more like a white carrot. So now, I don’t think there is anything left in the ground to come up next year. I’ll let you know in, um, 10 months?!

      Thanks for the recipe link. That’ll do just fine. I love Rachael Ray, even though her voice makes me cringe. Her cooking style is very practical.

      Yeah, I just about killed my wife’s fennel last year, but it came back OK after I replanted the roots. I don’t know what variety it is that you get in the market. But I do know that if you don’t leave something in the ground, it probably won’t come back.

  6. Don’t the earthworms eat the roots of the plants?
    I have never seen an earthworm in Spain. I am sure that there was not even one in the 500 m2 I had to look after around my house.
    I have never seen a leek flower. Does it smell of leek? But the prettiest is the onion flower.

    Maybe they do eat the roots. They certainly like to hang out by the roots of plants. Whenever I pull up a weed, there they are. The worms thrive in rich moist soil. Their presence indicates good soil health. I’m planning to cart some wheelbarrow loads of this worm-rich soil over to the other garden, which could use a little enrichment.

    The leek and onion flowers only smell very slightly of onion. I like the purple coloring of the leek flower myself. But the onion flowers are also quite lovely.

  7. So…I am confused. I think I eat the root-end of garlic, but what is that clove-like bulge on the scape?? I know I could look it up in wikipedia, but I don’t mind if my ignorance shows. Possibly someone else is having the same question.

    Yes, garlic is truly an amazing plant. That clove-like bulge on the scape, when allowed to mature, is miniature garlic ‘bulbils’, which you can eat (and guess what they taste like!) or plant in the fall. I’m going to try planting them. Supposedly you harvest them next summer, and plant them again in the fall to get a full bulb the following summer. This is consistent with the biennial pattern, but without true seeds. Garlic is asexual! The surprise in letting the scapes go this year was that I got 2 varieties of bulbils. One with clusters of many tiny bulbils and the other with clusters of much larger and fewer bulbils. I’ll probably try to photograph them soon. They’re still drying out in the cellar.

  8. P.s.: re: roadside detritus. “Alimentary, my dear: Watson.”

    Them ain’t no antacids vermonter. 🙂

  9. I think you are going to get the hurricane, but even if you get only its rain, that would do a lot of damage to your garden. And the trees? And the barn?

    I knew that no worms means bad soil. It is bad here in many places, long stretches of land turned into hunting grounds, though in the past also used as pastures for migrating herds of sheep.

    Oh yes, Hurricane Irene is expected here tomorrow. Latest forecasts say 6 inches of rain and 70 mph wind gusts. We’ll see what happens. We did some harvesting today and brought in things that might blow around.

    I’m really happy to see all the worms. They make the soil very fluffy. It takes so many years to get the soil to that condition. I hope hope they don’t get drowned by all the rain.

  10. My USA family lives in Ohio, and I once heard the story of one of their neighbours was working on his barn door when a tornado was approaching.
    The tornado came and he held on to the barn door, and the tornado lifted him plus barndoor and together they sailed 100 feet? yards? cannot remember.

    But the guy who told the story also did not know how and where they landed or “made landfall” as the newspaper now keeps saying.

    Wow. Tornadoes and lightning are both very scary to me. Not terror but a deep gratitude that neither of these excessively high-energy phenomena has gotten too close to me yet. Have never seen a tornado. Lightning is common however and once it struck a house we were living in. It started a telephone wire on fire inside an unfinished wall. Lucky the wall was unfinished as we could see the problem through the plastic sheeting and put out the fire. Had we not been home that house would have burned down.

  11. Don’t your houses have to have a lightning rod? It is a metal rod installed on the roof and attached to it there is a cable or wire that goes to the ground. The idea is that if lightning strikes, it will hit the rod. In the villages it is normally the church that acts as a lightning rod (intercepting the bolts that God sometimes sends if people don’t behave, see), because in theory lightning always strikes the highest metal point it can find.

    Before, when we lived on the periphery of a little village, though we were not far from the church (as the village was small, the periphery was near the center, …)we had our own lightning rod.

    We’ve never had a lightning rod on any homes that we’ve inhabited. The last house we lived in was connected to the end of the power line poles. We used to get close lightning strikes there often. Once it struck so closely that the telephone wires behind the plastic sheeting inside the unfinished wall started smoldering. If we had not been home to put it out the house would have burned down.

    Some folks claim to love lightning. While it doesn’t terrify me, I don’t like it and would prefer that it just didn’t happen anywhere near me. It’s just too much energy in one place at one time. Just like bombs. Keep them away from me please.

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