Posts Tagged ‘garlic’

The Good and The Bad in July so far

The Good - Harvested 2013 Garlic

The Good – Harvested 2013 Garlic

Garlic as far as the eye can see.  I harvested all the garlic from both my own back yard and the farm location where I ran a trial garden over the last year.  This year it didn’t grow quite as large as last year, but I still think it was a success.  I need to get it a bit more separated for curing, but right now it’s so hot and dry out that it’s drying nicely even in a heap.  I’ll hang them from the rafters soon.  With a little bit of luck this garlic, replanted, will turn into a for-profit crop in 2014

The Bad - They took my corn!

The Bad – They took my corn!

Last night when I went to bed I had about 30 ears of sweet corn JUST about ready to pick in my 10′x10′ three sisters garden.  This morning there were about 7 or 8 little ones left.  Something–probably Raccoons–harvested all the rest and removed them while I was sleeping 20 feet away.  They knocked down and broke the corn stalks, so now the pole beans have nothing to grow on either.  And obviously if they ate here once, they could be back for the cucumbers and melons that are starting to grow on all those vines.  This is what we get for no longer letting our cat(s) outside.

But enough bad–More good!  I have been eating tomatoes every night all week.  This year of trialling new varieties has exposed me to at least 2 more favorites that are doing quite well in my yard.  I will definitely add “Church” to my permanent list of tomatoes to grow, and I think “Pink Sweet” will be on there as well.  I will review them here within the next week or 3.

My 8 pepper plants seems to be doing better than average this year.  I usually don’t get to pick any peppers until August and this year they are already sizing up and producing lots of fruit.

How is your garden growing?

Upside Down Garlic

Last fall I apparently planted one of my cloves of garlic upside down.  With a great amount of effort, it grew anyway.  I salute it’s resolve.

Garlic Harvested in late June, 2012

I harvested my garlic this week.  Mrs. Jimmy helped me get these 100 bulbs out of the ground.

After a little online research, I have discovered that the variety is named “Chamisal Wild.”  It was found by Kristen Davenport Katz from Boxcar Farm near Santa Fe, New Mexico.  After describing it to Kristen, she told me about the recent history of this purple-stripe hardneck:

It was named by us… and the story goes that the postmistress in our small village of Chamisal, NM, told us to go look by the little ditch that ran through the village. The village has been settled since the 1600s by the Spanish, a small Northern New Mexico mountain town. So the postmistress, Noami, told us where to go look because she knew we grew a lot of garlic. So one afternoon in early spring we went wandering down by this creek near an old adobe (hardly anything left of it, really) and I was walking around thinking, gosh, there’s no garlic here … then the scent hit me in the nose and I realized I was walking through a FIELD of garlic that looked like a thick-bladed grass. We went back in August after the bulbils were set and harvested below-ground bulbs and planted it… within 3 years the bulbs were as big as fists. Plus, it tastes great. I think this was 2004. So we’ve been growing it eight years now. Glad you enjoy the garlic, it has spread wide because it’s such a lovely variety.

Many of these garlic bulbs are in the 2 1/2 inch range. A few are 3 inches across. The ones that I left the scapes on are only 1 to 1 1/2 inches in size.  That does seem to matter.

For now, the garlic is resting on my back porch picnic table.  This weekend I will have to get it hanging up in the garage to cure for a few weeks. The garlic is done curing when you can cut the bulbs from the stems and there is no moisture, no juice dripping.

The biggest of them all will become my seed garlic. I’ll plant next year’s crop in a few months.

Cut off the garlic scapes? What are bulbils?

Conventional wisdom says that when the hardneck garlic you are growing sends up scapes, you should cut them off so that the plant doesn’t spend any energy growing a part that you won’t use. If you cut off the scapes, they say, you’ll surely get bigger garlic bulbs.  That could be so, but I was curious this year to see what, exactly, will grow if you leave the scape on the plant.

This garlic “flower” (the bulbil) has been on the plant for about 3 weeks after I would have normally cut off the scapes.  It has grown plump, and I found myself curious about what lies inside.

I tore open the covering to reveal about two dozen tiny garlic cloves.  Freaking BABY GARLIC!  Each one is basically a “seed clove” that will propagate the parent garlic variety.  Garlic Seeds? Yes please.

I have read that planting these very tiny cloves, will result in an undersized garlic bulb growing the next year.  If you turn around and replant for 2 or 3 years in a row, the resulting crops will get bigger and bigger each year until you are producing garlic the size of the original parent plants.

One reason to plant from bulbils instead of (or in addition to) cloves, is that it is a very fast way to ramp up your production of any given variety.  Whereas planting the 10 cloves from the main garlic bulb will increase your planting stock at a decent rate, planting all the cloves and all the bulbils will increase your stock twice as fast or faster.  In 4 year’s time, you could turn 1 pound of seed garlic into a crop that covers an entire acre.

Another very important reason to plant the bulbil’s mini-cloves is that if your crop’s roots become infected with a soil-borne disease in any given year, it is very likely that the bulbils, living 2-3 feet up above the ground, will NOT share the infection.

Needless to say, I am going to be growing an experimental container of these for next year. I tore the ones in these photos off the parent plant too soon, but there are still a dozen or more in the garden that I’ll cure with the rest of the garlic harvest.

So WHY does the the garlic grow bulbils?  If left unharvested in the yard or field, the top of the garlic plant would brown, wither, and fall over.  The bulbil would find itself touching the ground in a location about 3 feet from where the parent clove grew.  The winter snow would press it down and in the spring it would root itself right there.  In this way a hardneck garlic patch will expand itself and keep reseeding, potentially forever.

June Garden Panorama

I have had panorama photos that turned out much better than this one, but it gets the idea across. Things are starting to get a bit unruly down there. Weeding needs lots of attention soon. It’s time to harvest beets and their greens. Soon I will harvest the carrots, followed by the cabbages and then the garlic. By that time I will be getting many red tomatoes.

I still need to plant the green beans I promised my wife.

Garlic forest mulched with grass clippings

Garlic Forest Mulched

My 4×8 bed of garlic was weeded again and mulched with the grass clippings as I collected them with my mower.  Ideally I would have allowed them to brown in the sun first, but it’s a thin enough layer that they should brown in place soon.

Garlic Scapes have arrived

My 32 square feet of hardneck garlic (approximately 100 plants) have sent up flower stalks, or scapes.

I removed most of them, and we’ll eat as many as we can. They have a taste somewhere between garlic and an onion and are a nice treat in a salad or stir fry.

Huge cast iron skillet full of stir fry with garlic scapes

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