The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Garlic Small and Large To Bloom Soon - Chives Later

The alium family includes alium, garlic, onions, leeks, and chives.


The garlic cloves we planted last fall have popped up above the soil. They are hardy bulbs, but people seldom think of planting them in the fall for an early harvest in spring. Roman soldiers carried garlic bulbs as all-around cures, and garlic is still known for the same properties. We planted garlic cloves in the vegetable garden and also around the maple tree. I believe some extra cloves were planted along the fence. I failed to calculate how many cloves came from a broken up garlic bulb.

I seem to be the only one who plants giant alium, seen with the boy in the photo above. I bought Globemaster, from Dutch Gardens, which produced strong stalks and mega-blooms last time, in New Ulm. A little girl posed with some of my Globemasters and looked intimidated by their size. Hold the stalk?  She trembled at the thought.

Much smaller alium can be bought as small bulbs - but why? The giant ones are relatively rare. We took about 10 minutes planting four in the rose garden last fall.

I like garlic chives growing among the roses, since they spread through their roots, look like grass, and do the work of garlic with even less labor. Some scoff at the magical properties of garlic, making roses healthier and driving away insects. However, root exudates are taken more seriously now. One whiff of garlic chives on a hot, humid day will erase all doubts about their efficacy with insects.

Garlic chives have the advantage of producing their grassy shoots as they spread, and these can be harvested easily for soups and salads.

I do not grow onions, but they are another large component of this health-giving family.


Train whistle blowing, this one carries goats.
Riding on the train top, the sheep are full of oats.

Rocking, rolling, riding, through the snowbound land,
All bound for Springdale town, spreading tracks with sand.

Driver at the engine, Billy's on the top,
Baby goat has joined him, to warn when they should stop.

Maybe it is raining where our train will ride,
One can never really tell, forecasts can't decide.


Rocking, rolling, riding, through the snowbound land,
All bound for Springdale town, spreading tracks with sand.

Somewhere there is sunshine, somewhere there is day,
Somewhere they can see the streets, but not in Maine today.


Pruning Wakes Up Plants and Makes Them Fruitful

New gardeners are afraid to cut their precious plants, but most plants respond well to pruning and to harvesting. Pulling peas and beans off their vines will create new flowers and new pods. If you plant enough of them, you will learn what the Sorcerer's Apprentice (Disney Cartoon) is all about.

I am waiting another week to prune the crepe myrtle and rose bushes, because that will start root growth and new branches, when frost is somewhat an issue. We will get a little cold, perhaps even a little snow for Valentine's Day weekend.

Pruning is the best fertilizer to spur growth, because the entire plant responds. Naturally the roots will call for more nutrition from the fungi, handing the fungus carbon credits in return for the chemicals demanded. The plant governs this process, so why not start with the boss - the plant?

Dead wood on roses and crepe myrtles rob the plant of its vigor, so removing that will make the roots spread out more for water and food. Some branches grow into to each other; those prunes also help. The crepe myrtle has lots of tiny, useless twigs, starters that faded, so removing them and adding them to the mulch will make the bush more vibrant as it buds and flowers.

Pruning also shapes a plant, so a bush with lots of growth can be made to grow taller rather than fan out.

Trees can be pruned to death, but bushes can be cut back quite hard, by 2/3rds, and bounce back better than before.