Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sowing Dragon's Teeth

I'm not sure how it happened, exactly.  With one thing and another, I ended up with well over 300 cloves of garlic, from seven different varieties, to plant this year.  It's been an unusually mild fall, as our spring was unusually early and warm.  Climate change?  Perhaps.  In any case a late garlic planting.  It took me a lot longer of course to plant these 300-odd cloves than it does to get in my usual crop of around a hundred cloves.  More time for woolgathering in the garden.

I felt like Cadmus.  You know, the mythical Greek hero and founder of the city of Thebes.  He had rather a detailed history, with the usual Greek peregrinations, interferences from the gods, and a generous share of the misfortune that generally attends those mortals who attract their attentions.  Not that I felt unfortunate; not in the least.  It was a beautiful day in the garden, and the rich soil made me feel rich as well.  What resonated from Cadmus' story was the occasion of him sowing the teeth of a dragon he'd slain. The teeth then sprouted and grew into an army of bloodthirsty soldiers, who attacked one another immediately. 

Garlic cloves look somewhat like teeth.  In Russian the word used for a garlic "clove" is in fact exactly the word for tooth.  And if the fiery heat of garlic can be ascribed to any mythical creature, it seems only fitting that it belong to the dragon.  A garlic dragon.  So there I was sowing my dragon's teeth, and imagining the trim ranks of slender soldiers that would spring up in that place after the winter snows have passed.  My green soldiers will not fall violently upon one another until only five remain alive.  They will however betray their military bearing by the lances they wield.  I will disarm them all, and turn the scapes to peaceful culinary purposes.

Three hundred-odd heads of garlic next year...!  The dehydrator notwithstanding, I may have to find a market for them.


Anonymous said...

Dragon's teeth! Hah! Love this.... I like garlic, but I can barely FATHOM the idea of 300 cloves. I am enjoying the late fall, too. I ordered French Gray Shallots the other day, on sale, and will give them a try. Who knows, maybe they'll overwinter just fine.

meemsnyc said...

300 cloves of garlic!! Wow! What will you do with all that garlic?

Hazel said...

Mmmmmm! Garlic bread, garlic soup, spaghetti with garlicky sauces, skorthalia, roast garlic as a vegetable, garlic croutons, bruschetta, roasted garlic bulbs squeezed onto good bread or toast with a bit of goats cheese...
Not to mention nearly everything I cook starts with sauteed garlic.
I either need to plant more garlic or move to your house!

Joel said...

You might make garlic-infused chauvre by feeding them to a special-purpose dairy animal: a scape goat.

Sadge said...

As a kid, I just loved the old Harryhausen stop-motion film, Jason and the Argonauts - especially when the skeleton soldiers sprouted up, ready to do battle.

Margo said...

Have you tried pickled garlic? It is very easy to make, and really helps extend the garlic season - pickled is all I have left until December when the new crop is ready.

It does take a bit of the bite from the garlic, but none of the flavour.

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

Three hundred heads of garlic might be enough to last us until the next harvest. Maybe.

I know the 25 pounds or so we harvested this year looked impressive when it first came in, but it's going away so fast I'll buy sets this weekend to plant next year's crop, which will be LARGER with any luck.

(BTW, I'm "safira" who sometimes comments here, but I'm trying to get word out about my other blog, so you're seeing a different name!)

Kate said...

Ali, like I said, I'm not really sure how this happened. I planted a few shallots last fall, not knowing any better, and also far deeper than I should have. They came up, maybe not as big as I'd have liked. But I did get a crop.

meemsnyc, use it as a trade good? Barter? I've already gotten verbal agreements to sell to a few family members.

Hazel, good ideas, all. Thanks. Still, we already crank along at a pretty respectable rate of garlic consumption. Nothing so respectable as the average Korean, but well above average for the US or the euro zone. We'll see what we can do to increase consumption, but we'll still have excess to spare. Could be worse, no?

Joel, I love it! I had a similar idea years ago when dairy farmers in the area used to complain about the wild onion that is prolific in this area. They're tiny, but the cows will seek them out if they can, and apparently it flavors their milk and makes is "unsalable." I always wondered, why not an onion-flavored cheese? Nothing artificial, and no extra work!

Sadge, I don't think I saw that one. But I was a sucker for Greek myths as a kid too, as is probably evident.

Margo, no I haven't tried pickled garlic, except in kimchee. I've not historically been a fan of pickles, but I'm doing my best to overcome that aversion. Even so, if we harvest anything near 300 heads of garlic, we're going to have a surplus. Thanks for the suggestion though!

Theresa, you must have more people to feed, or some powerful garlic habit. I think we eat quite a lot of it, and 10-12 pounds is about as much as we can eat in 7 or 8 months. Then it starts to sprout in storage. So maybe we'd eat 15 pounds a year if it lasted that long. And we'll see if the softneck lasts any better in storage.