Monday, July 25, 2011

our homestead: garlic harvest 2011

My husband and I harvested our “wedding” garlic at last. I’ve been both lovingly and jokingly calling it our wedding garlic because it was planted about a week before our wedding last October. I remember a year ago I wasn’t stressing too badly about the actual wedding, nope, I was worried about getting my garlic in the ground before we left for our honeymoon and it would be too late when we returned to plant it. Garlic is planted about the same time tulip and daffodils need to be planted- during early autumn when it’s not so hot that the garlic will sprout, but certainly well before the first killing frost so the cloves get a chance to acclimate. The garlic, planted clove by clove and shielded by layers of good compost and mulch (I used wheelbarrows and wheelbarrows full of crushed, fallen maple leaves), will lay dormant in the soil over the winter until awakened in spring, when its first little green sprouts will emerge. These little sprouts become leafy green tops as the clove continues to develop into a full head of garlic.

Anyway, last year I remember having a lot to do in regards to my garlic while also preparing for our wedding. My planting bed was to be the abandoned bed underneath one of my parent’s old greenhouses. I spent the morning of the day I was to retrieve my wedding dress from Portland, Oregon, clearing the entire bed, ripping up all the weeds and removing the skeletal remains of dead tomato plants. As soon as I’d cleared the bed, I jumped in the car and drove to Oregon to get my dress.

Now here’s where I became a true Bridezilla. My husband’s friend, Steve, came into town to stay with us a few days before the wedding. He was to be one of our groomsmen and, boy, was he a good one! While rushing around trying to finish wedding stuff I was lamenting about how I wouldn’t have time to till the soil of my garlic bed. Steve volunteered…even though he didn’t exactly have work shoes with him. I have this memory of looking out the window, watching Steve rototill my garlic patch in a very nice pair of shoes. He did an excellent job too! Thanks to Steve’s help, I was able to get my garlic planted within a couple days of the wedding. *Phew!*

As far as the results of the harvest, my husband and I pulled up two overflowing wheelbarrows of garlic this past week. We knew it was time to pull the garlic as the tops were wilting and turning yellow. Last year I planted elephant garlic and two varieties of hardneck garlic: Spanish Rojo and Spicy German. My plan is to replant 2/3 of the harvest this September and to eat the rest. To cure my garlic for storage, I’m letting it all lay out on a table where it can be exposed to light and dry out for about two to three weeks. Then, I’ll either trim the greens from the garlic bulbs and toss them in a burlap sack or braid them and hang them in my basement pantry. My husband and I have been enjoying heads of roasted garlic nearly everyday, smeared on bread or chicken. You can bet we’re keeping the vampires away!

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