Planting Garlic with Kids: what can grow from soil & cloves

Planting garlic with kids
Planting garlic with Waylon

The clouds parted sometime in the night, and we woke yesterday morning to sun.  In the midst of fall rains, the morning reprieve invited us outside for the perfect fall day, and we accepted, garlic seed in hand.  

I set to making furrows through composted beds while Waylon played on straw bales.  When the furrows were ready, he jumped down and filled his pockets with cloves. He’s growing, this 5-year-old of mine, and I’ve noticed it this fall in his endurance while apple picking and now his sustained interest in planting garlic.  

While we grow mostly annuals on the farm, I count ourselves among the handful of perennials.  We may not have literal roots, but if we give him nothing else as parents, I hope this soil works its way into his heart and gives him a steadiness he knows he can always grow in.  

Playing on straw bales that will mulch the garlic crop

Garlic is the perfect crop to teach this.  

We sow it just before winter, giving it enough time to root in, but not enough time to shoot up through the soil.  It teaches us patience, the value of being in one place, the hardiness of staying present through a long winter to transform and grow come spring and summer.  

I doubt Waylon is thinking all this as he follows the tape measure, placing each clove 4 inches apart.  To be honest, I don’t think about it until after. I just sow along with him, thankful for this boy and these seeds and soil.  

Have you planted garlic yet?  

If you haven’t, don’t worry.  You can still get away with another week or two here in Central Vermont (zone 4b) and if you’re in warmer zones you have plenty of time.  We’ll be tucking cloves into my mother-in-law’s garden 7 hours south of here (zone 6b) at Thanksgiving.

Learn how to plant garlic here.

Planting garlic with kids

As we planted garlic, Edge seeded winter rye, getting the cover crop in just before the rain came.  

It’s late, but winter rye is perfect this time of year.  Even the smallest autumn growth will return come spring and begin growing again.  Learn more about cover crops here.

Rain scattered down again at lunchtime, and by the end of one bed Waylon decided he’d worked enough for the day.  I finished the rest in the on-and-off rain, covering the planted beds with straw while Edge and Waylon played board games inside.

The balance of family and farm isn’t always an easy one, but yesterday it worked.  

May it work for you, too—the balance, the growth, the setting of roots in soil and hearts.  And on the days it doesn’t, know I’m right there with you. Give yourself some softness, a cup of tea, and know that balance will inevitably tip back into ease.

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