Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Barn Rafters of Garlic

Happy summer! Yesterday marked the sun’s nothernmost track in the sky. For a few days the sun will stay in relatively the same place on the horizon, before slowly working its way back south.

Last Monday we harvested all of the garlic. Last week you received fresh garlic in your box. This is a bulb that we dug up, cut off the stalk and passed along directly to you without curing it. The rest of the garlic we have sorted and hung up to dry, or cure in the rafters of the barn. This will ensure that the bulbs dry down slowly so they can keep for as long as possible without rotting. Cured garlic can store for a very long time in a cool, dark, dry place.

When we hung the garlic up we carefully selected the largest, best formed, most even bulbs of each variety to set aside as this fall’s seed garlic. We cure these bulbs along with all the rest and just kind of forget about them. Then, in October, we will pull them out take all the cloves off the bulb and push them into the ground to start the cycle over again.

This is about half of it!

Garlic is an interesting plant because it is planted in the fall in October. In the sprouts up to about 6 inches then waits dormant for the rest of the winter. In the spring it takes off, quickly becoming the tallest, most lush green plant in the early spring. Their growth and vigor begins to slow in May when they start to think about flowering. This is when they send out their garlic scapes. The scapes are the closed blossom of garlic. Garlic reproduces both vegetatively and sexually. However, if it is allowed to fully flower and create seed it invests far less energy in the roots, the part we want to eat. So we cut off the flowers before they open, this is what was in you box several times in May. After the flower is cut the above ground portion of the plant starts to decline. The tips of the leaves begin to yellow and no new growth is seen. Meanwhile, the plant is working to make its bulbs as large as possible to give thee, energy to regrow the next year. Once several leaves have fully died on the stalk we know it is time to dig them up.

In a few weeks, we’ll pull down the cured, dried garlic and put them in your boxes. We’ll have several exciting varieties to taste and enjoy.

Flowering cilantro. Look closely to see all the pollinators it attracts to the garden.

Baby cucumbers for August fruit.

A bumblebee visits our Echinacea

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