GARLIC CLOVE THERAPY
After building a new raised bed next to the greenhouse something had to be planted in it, and that thing was garlic, which can stand late frosts. It was regular garlic bought for eating from the supermarket. Just break apart the bulbs, plant individual cloves bottom down, four to six inches apart, cover them, water, and wait. The neighbor's wandering cattle keep us supplied with manure, which was mixed into the bed's soil, ensuring outrageously large and luscious garlic later on.
It's good seeing the cloves' smooth, glossy-green sprouts emerge from rich, crumbly, earthy smelling soil. In fact, just seeing them come up somehow is therapeutic.
It's especially therapeutic on mornings after listening to the news. You hear about the growing rate of elephant poaching for ivory, religious wars in Africa, the growing educational divide between the rich and non-rich... and then you go outside and see that during the night the garlic sprouts have added a little height, that wet with morning dew they're radiant in morning light, and you feel OK, maybe even a little hopeful.
Sometimes I think that the positive, restorative effects of beholding sprouting garlic cloves and other such gardening miracles are so immediate and so profound that there must be some deep, fundamental reason behind it.
A good guess is that it's because during the course of early primate and human evolution, those who survived to pass on their genes to us were the ones who most successfully and efficiently interacted with the plants and animals around them. Those early hominids and humans were self reliant, and kept things simple, so having a little garden beside one's house -- or even a potted plant in the window -- resonates with humanity's deeply rooted experience with Nature, self reliance and simplicity.
It's easy enough to test this theory. Just bury a garlic clove in a pot of soil set in the window, keep it warm and watered, and see what blossoms within you as the little green sprout rises from the rich, brown soil.