Man’s world

In which our gen­er­ous and thought­ful South­ern cor­re­spon­dent fi­nally – though re­luc­tantly – sees the light with the aid of a pot and six bulbs of gar­lic

NZ Gardener - - CONTENTS -

At last! Our gruff South­ern man sees the light

Don’t you just love it when god gives you a shove in the small of the back? “Go on,” growls god, “what are you wait­ing for? Go for it.”

Of course by god I don’t mean God. I mean the, you know, the what’s it, hap­pen­stance, what Hardy called the Im­ma­nent Will, the prin­ci­ple by which… but per­haps I should just tell the story. This is af­ter all a gar­den­ing mag­a­zine, not a Vat­i­can news­let­ter. (I won­der what the Latin is for jumble sale.)

I was in a hard­ware store in search of a birth­day present for a woman who is fond of pots, so fond in­deed that she has pots by the hun­dred if not thou­sand. If I were she, I would think the last thing I needed was another pot, but I am not she and I doubt she will ever feel she has enough pots even if she has to move into the pot­ting shed be­cause of the num­ber of pots in the house. All of which may make her a lit­tle un­usual but it also makes her easy to buy for.

I found the right pot im­me­di­ately, dec­o­rated with an ex­quis­ite green and red sticker say­ing “Re­duced to clear”. It was also an out­door pot which might, I thought, with typ­i­cal kind­ness, make some small con­tri­bu­tion to de­lay­ing her evic­tion to the pot­ting shed.

It was as I was head­ing for the check­out, pot in hand, that god shoved me. He did so in the di­rec­tion of a wall dis­play. Now is the time, said the dis­play, to plant gar­lic.

Had I been in a car­toon, a light bulb would have come on in my head. For, at that ex­act time, I was half­way through writ­ing a news­pa­per col­umn in praise of gar­lic’s con­tri­bu­tion to meat dishes and hu­man hap­pi­ness. What bet­ter then than to start grow­ing my own? And how op­por­tune that now should be the time to do it. Thanks for the shove, god, I whis­pered.

From the dis­play I learned that to grow gar­lic you just buried a clove in the soil on the short­est day and on the long­est you came back and har­vested it. But I also learned that three bulbs of plant­ing gar­lic would cost me $6.99. Did they take me for a sucker? Five min­utes later I’d paid for the pot, crossed the carpark to the su­per­mar­ket and ac­quired six bulbs of fat Chi­nese gar­lic for $3.99.

Back home, my veg­etable beds were smoth­ered in win­ter weeds. I didn’t feel like weed­ing in the cold and be­sides I fan­cied the idea of grow­ing gar­lic right by the kitchen door for cook­ing con­ve­nience.

What I needed was… well, they say god works in mys­te­ri­ous ways. And it be­came im­me­di­ately ev­i­dent that to give my friend another pot would be a cru­elty, like giv­ing whisky to an al­co­holic. I planted the pot with gar­lic and a con­science as clear as a wind­screen.

Af­ter a week, noth­ing had to say, “Avoid im­ported gar­lic, as it’s typ­i­cally fu­mi­gated to stop sprout­ing.” Back at the hard­ware store, I asked the as­sis­tant where they’d put the gar­lic dis­play. “Oh that’s all fin­ished for the year,” she said. “Oh ha ha, god,” I said. “Oh ha ha ha.” I’ll give her the pot for Christ­mas. sprouted in my pot. Af­ter a fort­night, noth­ing had sprouted. Af­ter a month, there were only five months to go un­til har­vest and still noth­ing had sprouted. I con­sulted god made elec­tronic, the om­ni­scient in­ter­net. On the sub­ject of grow­ing gar­lic it had the fol­low­ing

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