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.
Posts Tagged ‘garlic’
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.
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.
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.
I’m not talking about the weeds in the lawn, I’m talking about that ground cover growing under my garlic stems.
If I were growing garlic in a traditional row-based garden, I would have the rows and plants far enough apart that they could be weeded with a long handled hoe. Raised bed gardening, and especially square foot gardening, places the plants in such a tight arrangement that they usually have to be weeded by hand.
I’ll probably spend 30-45 minutes on my knees getting these weeds away from my 96 garlic plants. That’s the price I pay for having a compact garden plan.