Wednesday, September 30, 2009


We have had a light layer of snow on the ground for over a week now. Above freezing temperatures during the day have melted enough that we can see the frozen ground with it's covering of leaves but there is still a partial coating of crunchy snow. We pulled and shoveled at least a hundred pounds of carrots, the last of the beets and potatoes last Thursday night. I've spent the past week scrubbing and bagging carrots. The only plants left in the garden are swiss chard, kale, beet greens, endive, escarole, mache and a few other hardy salad greens. They are all under either plastic or fabric row covers. I'm experimenting to see how long they last and how hardy they are.

I had a brief window last Sunday to plant garlic. This year I grew four varieties of garlic that I purchased last fall: Siberia, Northe, Chezchland Race and Killarney Red. I also had planted a mix from the plants I'd harvested from the previous year that I think were similar to the varieties I'd purchased. For whatever reason my second year garlic was much slower to start, less vigorous, smaller bulbs and finished early. The Killarney Red also did poorly for me this year. I harvested the Killarney Red and my own mix by early August. The bulbs were small but were just fine as far as texture and flavor goes. I'm guessing I got about a pound and a half from the first harvest. We start almost every dinner meal with chopped garlic and onions, and have already used up all the first harvest garlic over the last couple months. I harvested the majority of the garlic just a couple weeks ago. In the picture above I've got four piles. I think the unmarked fourth pile in the top left corner was just a bundle that I'd harvested early. When I pulled the garlic I wrapped the bundles with twine and kept the label with each bunch. Then I hung the bundles for a few weeks before cutting the tops off. The Siberia and Northe are both Marbled Purple Stripe Hard Neck Rocambles. They were my best performers. The Chezchland Race is a Hard Neck Rocamble, but not a Purple Stripe. The bulbs on it were smaller but the plants were vigorous.
I had about three and half pounds of garlic from the final harvest and I'm guessing that I harvested five pounds total this year. I ordered two and half pounds from Filaree Farms in Washington, the same farm I've ordered from the last two years. The bulbs are much larger than my own. In the picture below left to right are Killarney Red, Siberia and Chesnok Red. In the center pile of Siberia the clove in the bottom right is my largest Siberia bulb. Hm, I wonder why my second year garlic did so poorly? Beings that you plant the biggest cloves off each garlic and given the drastic comparison in size, I think I'll keep ordering garlic until my own crop is doing better. I ordered garlic before I had harvested any. I'm glad I bought more Siberia. I wish I'd ordered more Northe and maybe not the Killarney Red. I was hoping to plant more of my own garlic but since I'd harvested it so late it wasn't cured all the way when I went to plant. If the garlic isn't dried all the way the cloves are very difficult to separate and it is probably not good to plant it so soon. So I planted most of what I purchased and a small amount of each variety I'd grown.

From left to right are Killarney Red, Chesnok Red and Siberia. I broke up most of the bulbs putting the largest ones aside for planting and the rest for eating. Last year the garlic didn't last much past December so this year I am going to keep enough garlic whole for the next couple months and puree the rest with olive oil. I'll pour the pureed garlic into sandwich ziplocs and lay them flat. That way I can easily break of chunks for cooking with.
Fortunately I had turned this whole bed and worked in Bone Meal, Blood Meal and Greensand a few days before the snow fell. Broccoli and Kale had been planted here this summer and I had mulched with goat bedding and had limed before planting. So as I was working the bed I didn't add any lime, but there was still visible goat mulch which is full of nutrients. I walked the row and it is about twenty-five feet long. I planted three rows of garlic about four inches apart. I planted about two pounds. You can see I had entertainment and frisky company.

I don't get out much on my own so to be outside in the afternoon, planting garlic and watching the goats romp around was enjoyable to say the least. It was a lovely afternoon despite the overcast cool conditions. After planting garlic I headed indoors to prepare some food for a special harvest dinner later in the day, which will be the topic of my next post.

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