October 18, 2018

Beautiful Garlic


I've been growing garlic in my garden for about three years. This year was a particularly lovely harvest.

Years ago, when I started my little backyard vegetable garden, it never occurred to me that I could grow my own garlic. And then, a few years ago, I tried. As with many garden endeavours, experience teaches lessons. When I first planted garlic cloves, I didn't know that you harvested the garlic bulbs in late summer. I watched their stalks and leaves die and thought: "Well, that didn't work!" The next spring I was telling my best friend how I hadn't had success with garlic and she said that I was supposed to harvest the garlic bulbs in late summer just as the leaves started to wilt. I got off the phone with her and went out to my garden. In the raised bed where I'd planted the garlic the previous summer, there were tiny green shoots. The garlic was still there and it was alive! Had it listened to our phone conversation? I let it grow that whole second season and then harvested it in August.

Since then, I've followed my friend's advice and have planted my cloves in the fall and harvested the bulbs in late August or early September. I cut the curly garlic scapes in the early summer and make a wonderful pesto recipe I found online a few years ago. Then I wait for the leaves to partially wilt a few weeks later and dig up the bulbs. We love to cook with garlic in our household so it's a real treat to have our very own.

This year, I grew Marbled Purple Stripe garlic and it is beautiful! So beautiful that it inspired a new painting! I can report that garlic bulbs are very cooperative models. They sit very patiently and don't wilt and wither like so many of my other painting subjects. They give you the time you need to admire and paint them.

Here's a photo of my painting in progress.


And here's the finished painting.


Within minutes of posting a photo of the finished painting on Instagram last week, I received an email from a friend who has been purchasing my art for years. She had a touching request. She wanted to buy a few prints of the garlic painting for a family she knows. Garlic has a very special meaning for them. Their father, who passed away recently, used to tell his sons that a garlic bulb is like a family: while the cloves exist as individuals, they are grown together and belong to the whole. Isn't that lovely? I will always think of that now.

I'm happy to let you know that my garlic painting is available as both a print and note cards in my shop. Here's what they look like.

 Garlic art print by Kathleen Maunder

 Garlic Note Cards by Kathleen Maunder

When I chose to paint the garlic, I was mostly thinking of how pretty it was. I thought that the painting might interest someone who loved cooking, gardening or eating! It didn't occur to me that garlic would be of symbolic value to someone. People frequently tell me of the special associations, often from childhood, that flowers hold for them. Now I know that exists for garlic too. 💕

🌿 🌿 🌿 🌿 🌿

* 🌱 Gardener's note: I purchased my garlic bulbs by mail from Veseys Seeds in PEI.

* 🍲 Cook's note:  I mentioned a great garlic scape pesto recipe. Garlic scapes have a pungent flavour. I like to freeze this pesto flat in ziplock bags. Then I break off a chunk when I'm cooking a soup, sauce or stew during the winter. I also like to defrost a bit and spread it on pizza crust before adding the other toppings. Delicious!

“There are five elements: earth, air, fire, water and garlic.” 
Louis Diat - chef and culinary writer (1885-1958)


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