Friday, July 29, 2011

Garlic Festival with Photos

by Andy

We have a sense of tradition around the planting, care and harvest of garlic. The strains of garlic that we grow are like old friends. We grow the same varieties every year and we save our own garlic for seed. Over the 15 years that we have been growing these same three garlic varieties we have developed a way of doing things that works well. We plant, fertilize and mulch six garden beds in the fall with Class H. In the Spring we weed and re-mulch with Class H and other groups. Then in summer we water weekly when the rain isn't enough and we pick off the scapes three weeks before the harvest. Then we harvest the third weekend in July. We hang the garlic to cure and then select for the seed garlic for next year's crop. We always select big garlic for seed so in theory the crop improves in average size every year.

Even though we follow the same routine every year, it is always a little bit of a mystery how the garlic will turn out. Some years the garlic is past due by the time of harvest and some heads have lost the wrapper leaves to rot. Some years the weeds keep the garlic from sizing up or we pick the scapes too late. The early Spring temperatures seem to influence the size of the bulbs too. If the plants are big by the time the long days of June hit, then that seems to help the size.

I have learned not to assume anything regarding a harvest. Things can look good and then something unexpected undermines the yield. That is probably why we try to do everything the same every year. We know that this sequence has worked before. Why mess with it?

The plants looked good this year, so hopes were high last Saturday morning when we started pulling garlic. As the bulbs came out, they were truly fat and beautiful. I was pleased. It rained after the first half hour of picking, but that just meant that we had to braid the garlic in the long barn. Then, when the rain passed, we went to work and pulled all of the rest of the garlic. Close to 4000 heads in total. Wow. Thanks to everyone who helped harvest, wash, braid, and hang the garlic. Thanks especially to the E2 Farm Campers and Families!

Braided Soft-Neck Garlic 

Kumar with Chesnook Hard-Neck Garlic


Susie's homecoming

Anne in the enchanted garlic forest.

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