Living by the creed, “anything is possible”, the Bohemian had garlic visions when we first met. I had heard from local farmers that garlic just wouldn’t grow in the tropics. A handful had had luck with onions, but garlic, no.

“Why not?” he would ask.

The answer I did not know.

Until one day we asked Mary, our font of information on all things plant. Inspired by our curiosity, she invited us into the sacred gardener fold. She revealed that most garlic grows in places on the earth that have “long days”, where 14-16 hours of light give the bulbs what they need for growth. Not so in the tropics.

But wait, there was the very rare and coveted “short day” variety, sourced from somewhere in the Philippines. And Mary just so happened to have a few cloves resting in a dish upon her alter. They were awaiting the right person, she said. They needed to be planted, nurtured and then harvested – not for eating – but for propagating more. She held a dream of Hawaii having its own sustainable garlic crop and she was entrusting us to the well-being of future generations.

The Bohemian was all over it.

Three bulbs were planted with great reverence. Sticks and twine were woven around their area to keep out the cats and support their tender, green shoots, as sure enough, the bulbs did begin to sprout.

After six months of watchful care, we harvested our first bulb last week. Big and beautiful, yes, indeed – the Bohemian grew garlic in Hawaii.

We took the fruit of our labor to Mary and she acknowledged that it was the biggest bulb grown, yet. I know I’m biased and bragging, but it’s true. The Bohemian does kind of have a Midas touch.

Jessica Dofflemyer ~ all rights reserved

Ok, so tropical garlic in perpetuity for everyone!

Why not?

It’s the same question he asks me last night as he begins to paint a picture of an orchard of bonsai trees. With no mental limitations to stop his imaginings, he envisions mango and orange trees, miniature sized. I know his attentive, detailed focus would be well-suited to this pruning art form. But can you really just bonsai any old kind of tree?

“Why not?” he asks. And I have no answer.

But this is not the end of his grand vision. “What if you pruned the tree to be a bonsai and then, later, planted it in the ground? It would just – ‘poof’ – grow really big again!”

His eyes grow large and a smile spreads across his face. He’s nodding his head and with his Czech accent, affirms, “That would be nice.”

I’m thinking the guy is living in Wizard of Oz land. I’m skeptical that just any variety of tree can be bonsai-ed. And I certainly doubt it would begin to grow as a normal tree once put back in the ground. Though, I do like the symbolism of the pruned-back tree being freed to grow wild and untamed, once again.

I’m probably scrunching my nose up a bit when I look at him and say, “I don’t’ think that would work.”

“Why not?”

Again, I have no answer. And I’m well aware that the prized garlic bulb sits, gloating in the harvest basket right next to me.

photo courtesy of

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