We’ve decided it’s time to harvest all the garlic, and yes, we have enough to ward off quite a few vampires! By my count, we have 79 bulbs drying on a table on the deck, some big and fat, some pretty tiny. Not that we’re surprised, because we knew we planted some fat cloves as well as some that were pretty shriveled up. So we’re thrilled that every clove produced!
We definitely have at least two varieties — a white one and a rose-tinged one. We’ll save the best-looking ones to plant in the fall; I’m guessing we’ll once again cram in about that many in the raised bed we built just for garlic, and the rest will keep us from consuming much in the way of garlic from China for many months, hopefully well into 2012.
As we tell anyone who’ll listen, garlic has to be the easiest thing to grow. Go to your local farmers’ market, buy a bulb of organic garlic and plant each clove standing up a few inches deep in a nice sunny spot during the fall. Come May or June, you’ll need to cut back those curly scapes at the top before they straighten out and flower, taking energy from the bulb. Use the scapes as you would garlic, or make a garlic scape pesto. Once the garlic stalk dies back by 2/3 or so, pull out your crop, let the bulbs dry outside in the shade and enjoy!
As for our garlic bed, the Brit couldn’t resist admiring his soil one year later and running his hands through it. He’d filled it with a 50-50 mix of soil (piled in the back after we’d dug up grass a few years ago while expanding flower beds) and compost, so now, it’s incredibly light and fluffy. We debated sowing buckwheat as a cover crop until it’s time to plant the next garlic crop (return nitrogen to the soil, keep down weeds), but we decided we really needed to get those leeks out of window boxes. Plus, this way we’ll have to harvest in the fall, rather than dilly-dally til the snow comes and it’s too late.