Like the rest of the population of Vermont, yesterday I was out working in the garden, taking advantage of the warmish weather, which was scheduled to turn rainy and raw and stay that way until, oh, probably October.
But I won\’t be planting a garden this year, since we\’ll be leaving this house in a month, and while my fellow Vermonters were putting in their cool-season crops–lettuce, kale, turnips, broccoli, cabbage and chard–I was draping my garden in black landscape cloth, keeping it asleep until the new owners come to claim it.
My spouse and I spread the black stuff over the nine 4\’x4\’ raised vegetable beds. He stapled while I held the cloth taut, and we worked silently, with a sort of balletic harmony made possible by almost five decades of conjugal living. When it was done the beds looked neat and clean, unlikely to offend the most persnickety house buyer.
But I couldn\’t bear to cover all the beds. Last fall, having raised my first-ever garlic crop, and while the difficulties of continuing to live on this hill were only a shadow in the back of my mind, I picked out the best heads and planted the cloves in two of the beds (you–or rather, I–can never have too much garlic). Now, despite the apocalyptic winter, guess what\’s four inches high and bursting with joie de vivre?
I couldn\’t even think of smothering those bright green shoots in their infancy–it would have felt like drowning kittens. On the other hand, now that my time and energy must go to packing up the house rather than weeding, leaving the two beds open to the sun will mean a crop of dandelions, ground ivy, wild geraniums and clover along with the garlic.
The earliest harvest date, if we get no more snow storms, is mid-July. Assuming the house hasn\’t sold by then, this will mean a four-hour round-trip from our new life to reap the last fruits of our old one. If this crop is like the preceding one, I\’ll be scattering garlic largesse all over northern Vermont, and a cloud of Mediterranean aroma will settle over our new community on Lake Champlain.
This will be the seventh garden I\’ve left behind, but it won\’t be my last. I\’ve already written here about the plan to transport the orchard of potted fig and citrus trees to our new cottage, sort of like Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane. There is a tiny area around the cottage where we can grow whatever we like. I\’ll see what I can do with it.
My main concern about the upcoming move–way bigger than my worries about whether we will be lonely or bored or drive each other crazy in our tight new quarters–is that the cottage yard has no southern exposure, and everybody knows that the essential ingredient for a good garden is sun, sun, and more sun.