garlic girl

The best time to harvest wild garlic—I'm experimenting with that. This pearly white head, no bigger than the tip of my thumb, burst with flavor. We all chewed a clove—mild heat and garlic tang, then a sweetness.

My source said wait until the stalks, which emerge curled, fully straighten. I picked four heads that were the  first to do it and then let them dry a couple of days until their outer layers were a papery. It may be best to give these several days before you mash them into a salsa or sauce, but as an object in the hand, they are  beautiful to behold—every bit as enticing an image as a tenacious ladybug on the sheepwire.

This year's garden is chock full of these wonderful creatures. I find them on leaves on fencing on stems in bright sun and dim pockets. I've actually watched a ladybug, male or female I'll never know, chew its way through an of aphid, which caused me to actually speak aloud a thank you.

It's a challenge to establish a fully functioning organic garden with beneficial insects in balance with pests. Great care must be taken with soils, garden waste, and remedies for pests. I use only mild soap to combat a stubborn infestation of aphids or flea beetles, the two main troublemakers in my vegetable garden. Now, 20 years into this particular patch of garden, I have good balance: a healthy population of ladybugs to clean up the neighborhood and pollinators to make an orgy of the place on summer afternoons.

We've wallowed in strawberries over the last two weeks. As I've said before, I bring a cup of water to the patch and I sit with my wife and each eat a handful of the most delicious, tart-sweet wild strawberries to mark summer solstice. The present moment is the best, eh?

But the garden changes. The strawberries will soon taper off, even as the golden pod peas come in.

The violet and white blossoms sport a yellow eye and from that bursts the thin, sweet pea. Few make it to the house—we simply graze them for a snack. They'll peak in a week or so and then taper off as June turns to July heat.

The first tomato fruits are setting up well—marble-sized green fruits breaking out on the Bloody Butcher vines. A half dozen other varieties are in hot pursuit, the plants now rising 2-3' high and in need of tethering to a good stake or trellis.

When will the first ones ripen? I suspect before another month passes we'll have an early wave off these first bushes, and then the 18 plants I've got (count 'em, baby) will go big. I'll pull full baskets of fruit out, maybe 12-15 lbs, all through August. Those we don't eat fresh we'll skin, de-seed, and chop before freezing. Talk to me in January when I pull several pounds out as the base for a marinara sauce.

For now, though, it's about patience and persistence. The eggplant blossoms are setting and the Italian pole beans look intensely focused on climbing high up the tripod trellis.


Perhaps best of all, I took out my molcajete today--a broad lavastone mortar and pestle. Soon I'll be able to roast some of those garlic and mash them into paste, then mash in some chili peppers and have the base for a fresh salsa.

It's been, so far, a fantastic early growing season on the Front Range. The one brief hail last week didn't devastate and the warm nightime temps—up to 60 degrees or more—are setting the whole garden afire with fruit. It's a beautiful thing to behold.