Saturday, July 10, 2010
Garlic Harvest 2010
That 'root' is wiggling; happy soil, happy plants!9 months to the day after planting garlic cloves on a warm day in early November, this week I pulled-up my best garlic harvest ever! The soft-neck California white garlic cloves I bought at the La Montanita Co-op to use as seed garlic produced 100 impressively large and pungent bulbs; they're actually as big as store-bought garlic, yet much crisper and more flavorful! Click here to read my November post about planting these.
I had to use a shovel to lift the bulbs intact
After spending the cold-winter establishing their roots, the garlic leaves first emerged in early January. They must be made of anti-freeze....because....well, they didn't freeze on some damn frigid winter nights. In April I gave them a feeding of organic fish emulsion (high in nitrogen for leaf growth). I began consistently watering the two garlic rows in early April. By this point each plant had 8 - 12 leaves and stood 18+" tall, yet if you pulled one to eat as 'green' garlic you'd notice no swollen bulb at the base-- it doesn't start to swell until the summer. As summer approached I selected a couple plants to monitor the bulb growth by carefully removing the soil from around the bulb and checking them periodically. In mid-June, the bulbs were just starting to take shape and I gave the garlic it's last fertilizer, organic mori-bloom with a nutrient content of 0-10-10 (no nitrogen, and lots of phosphorus for bulb growth).
By late June I reduced the amount of water they received so the soil wouldn't be overly saturated and lead to rotting of the protective white sheath covering the bulb. As the leaves progressively turned brown and shriveled, starting with the bottom-most leaves and then proceeding up the plant, I read everything I could on-line about when to harvest. Most advice on this matter takes one of two forms: either watch the bulbs closely and harvest when there are 2-4 sheaths remaining over the cloves (probably more precise), or , harvest when the top part of the plant (leaves) turn brown. Using the former method, I harvested on July 7th. The upper-most 2-3 leaves on the plants were still green, but the stalks were mostly dry and starting to fall over at their base. The timing must have been perfect because only a couple cloves emerged with their protective sheaths nearly gone (I'll keep all these to eat at home), and all of the others were intact and swollen to their maximum size. I'll sell all of the larger bulbs at the Gallup Farmers' Market this year and cook with the smaller ones.