Farmer’s Calendar for August 2020

August 1, 2020

Most of what we grew, the summer I first worked as part of a crew of farming apprentices, was annuals: carrots, lettuce, peas, watermelons—plants whose entire life span transpires within a single season. We sowed and reaped the “one-time offer” as opposed to a “lifetime guarantee.” But eventually we began to harvest something that we had not planted—garlic, whose cloves are all clones of the mother bulb. The previous year’s apprentices had left us this gift; they’d pressed those individual cloves into the soil, cloves that endured through winter, sprouted in spring, and developed into whole new garlic heads. We grabbed onto each stalk and yanked up this crop, as if taking up a baton left by the previous crew, a baton that was now ours to carry into the barn to let cure throughout the waning summer days. Before we left the farm to begin our winter jobs, we tucked hundreds of garlic cloves in the ground—something for yet another set of hands to recover. It’s been 20 growing seasons since I pawed that farm’s soil. Yet each summer I draw on the one-time memory while harvesting my garlic. For days afterward, my hands remain un-scrubbably pungent.


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