In all things of nature there is something of the marvellous.
Monday, August 22, 2011
A humble harvest of garlic
Two posts in a row! It was a rainy day yesterday so I devoted some time to my neglected blog. I’m excited about my little garlic harvest so I wanted to share the story.
Last fall I planted a couple rows of garlic in my small vegetable garden (we have lots of space but I don’t have the strength to do a big garden!). I did this just before November frosts hardened the ground. Unexpectedly we had a warm spell in late November and the garlic started to sprout and I feared it would die when winter set in. So when the snows came I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. In the spring, I was thrilled to see the garlic growing.
We left for a 6 week vacation at the end of May so the garlic was on its own to survive. My philosophy for gardening is that if a plant can survive on the rain and sun and fertility of the soil, then it was meant to be, otherwise it has no place in my garden. I don’t water anything except potted plants. I try to stick to native species and drought-resistant plants that can grow in dry sandy conditions as we live on a drumlin (glacial deposit) and the ground does not retain water. I’ve added mulch and compost but it has not made a huge impact.
When we returned home in early July, the garlic had grown but it was in sad shape competing with the weeds. Since no one had been around to prune the scapes, the tops were setting little garlic bulbs above ground. Usually this means the bulbs in the ground will be small.
I had no time to deal with them until the end of July by which time the green tops were drying up. I quickly dug them up before they disappeared completely. Most of the bulbs were tiny but it meant I had a lot of little cloves to plant in the fall.
I untangled the plants and left them to dry for several days in the hot dry sun, bringing them in at night to keep the dew off. After 1 week they were dry and ready to sort.
The tiny bulbs I reserved for planting in the fall and the bigger ones I put aside to braid. This was my first attempt at braiding. I set up a small table outside and on a lovely sunny day and made 3 full braids following instructions I found on the internet. It’s pretty easy if you are used to braiding hair.
One braid has the largest bulbs and the other two are made up of smaller bulbs but I was pleased with the result.
Last winter all I could find in the local grocery stores was garlic grown in China which I refuse to buy so I look forward to eating organic home grown garlic this winter and maybe next year the crop will be better!