Anti-climax or blessing?

What a glorious day....  with zero chance of snow

What a glorious day…. with zero chance of snow

We didn’t get our snow.  In fact we didn’t even get any clouds. How can you have snow without clouds?  Even the wind was gentle with just the hint of a chill.  I think the second half of the storm bypassed us completely.   Other parts of the country are clearing up after a devastating storm and we are left counting our blessings.

Once I got over the fact that it was the most amazing day we had had in absolutely ages, I remembered it was the shortest day. YAY!  That means that each day will get a little longer and longer until we eventually find ourselves basking in the warmth of a summer sun.   I am also realistic to know that we haven’t seen the worst of winter yet, but it is nice to have a silver lining to get you through the worst winter will throw at us!

Beautiful primulas in my hanging basket brighten a winters day

Beautiful primulas in my hanging basket brighten a winters day

The thing is there is an old wives tale that says “sow onion and garlic on the shortest day and harvest on the longest.”  While this old adage works really well and I have followed it religiously since I began gardening, and took great pleasure in doing some intentional gardening on the shortest day of the year, there is a problem with it.  The longest day is four days before Christmas.

The last thing I want to be doing in the week before Christmas is digging up and drying a years’ worth of onion and garlic.  There is too much else to do, like last minute shopping, gift wrapping, baking and a myriad of last minute chores and a whirl of social engagements. So the onions and garlic get left in the ground.

The very last yellow brandy wine tomatoes of the season

The very last yellow brandy wine tomatoes of the season

But then New Year rolls around and there is still celebrating to be done and the onions and garlic wait and wait because after New Year comes the summer holiday and by the time I get to my poor old onions and garlic, you can tell they should have been dug up a couple of weeks ago.

This year I decided to get sensible and dispense with tradition.  I would plant my garlic and onion three weeks past the shortest day so they will be perfectly ready to come up when we get back from our 2014 summer holidays, which at the moment seem like a million years away.  But it makes me nervous as I have never done it late before – what if it is too late?  The choicest garlic bulbs I could find are sitting there waiting for me, tempting me to plant them.

Where the onions and garlic will eventually be planted

Where the onions and garlic will eventually be planted

The onions are of the greatest consternation as I had to have two goes at sowing them and they are only just showing their faces now, so they only have three weeks to get big enough to plant out.  If they germinated the first time it wouldn’t have been a problem, but it is now.  I find myself racking my brain looking for ways to accelerate seeding growth.  I may need to move them into Hubby the Un-Gardeners office, it gets full sun and when it is cold the heater gets turned on.  It may be my only option.  I’m beginning to act a little irrational when it comes to my onions.

It seemed odd not to do any planting on the shortest day.  It was like I was wilfully snubbing tradition.  Combined with the fact it was the most incredible blue sky day – without a hint of snow, I felt I had to do something, so I weeded the bed the onions and garlic are going to go into and then trimmed back the asparagus, which seems like a great new shortest day tradition to substitute with the garlic and onions.

The asparagus bed before and after

The asparagus bed before and after

Come again soon – tomorrow I will have a few extra minutes to spend in the garden – with the days getting longer.

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

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