Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Garlic Harvest 2013

The first week of August seems to be the time garlic gets harvested. The date doesn't vary much from one year to the other. Monday of this week was the day. The garlic seemed to do a bit better than some years. Trying to figure out what made the difference may be difficult. My opinion is the application of eel-grass as a mulch in the fall. It was the first time we had access to that marvelous amendment. It obviously gave a nice protective layer for winter, but also prevented any significant weed growth throughout the growing season. We also had no great periods without some rain.
There were just shy of 240 cloves planted last October. All were hard neck varieties of various names and sources. I had removed the majority of the scapes a few weeks ago, but I don't think I can say whether those with scapes left on were any poorer than those with the scapes removed. 
I didn't do much with this basket full of scapes except to make an experimental batch of garlic scape pesto. I don't think I am overly thrilled with it.

Every row would have a few heads that were a bit punier than others. anyway. The maturation of the scapes is also an indication that the heads below are ready for harvest. I doubt we will bother planting any of the little bulblets from the scapes, but you never know. It is quite a lengthy procedure and I seem to lose track before the heads get to a significant size.
The overall best performer would have to be the European Porcelain we obtained from the folks at Landsdowne Horse Logging in Pictou County.  We met Corey and Justin Smith at the Garden Club Fall Rally , 2012.

The plants and harvested heads were beautifully robust. They were also the least ripe of any, so they could conceivably have been left a few days, at least this year.

I am always concerned lest I leave them a bit too long and get rewarded with splitting heads. This year almost all were just right. There may have been three or four heads that were a little loose, but that was all.

I love the garlic harvest. The soil in the bed is a delight to work in. The slight loosening along the row is all that is required to lift the heads. 
Other years I have given the freshly lifted heads a bit of a wash, but chose not to do that this year.
We also have a different spot to dry and cure the heads. Our tent-like shelter is still up over the picnic table, so this was the spot of choice. It is as airy as anywhere and no sun gets to the table.
I set up mesh trays mounted on other mesh tray so air circulates all around. This also prevents any sowbugs or other creatures from settling in. 

Every day I rearrange the heads a bit, but I don't think they are crowded.
The first wheelbarrow load consisted of a variety that I have no name for, but seems to be a common one grown here in Antigonish County. These were obtained from Isabel Rochas who operates LaFrayere Garden in Georgeville.

The second batch were from Jack MacLoed who grows many vegetables and tree fruits in Lanark. He sells his produce at the Antigonish Farmer's Market each week of the season. I am pretty sure the varieties from both these places are the same.
I had also planted a couple of varieties from Botanus last fall. Music and German White. Music is quite a common variety and the small row did okay. 

The German White was alright, but not nearly as nice as the European Porcelain.
Each year after the garlic is harvested we plant a cover crop of buckwheat on the patch. Bill was pretty swift getting at that job and had the bed smoothed out before the last row was even harvested. Part of the seaweed was raked aside for another use.

The picnic table was completely full by the time I was finished. 

Ringo loves to lounge there, so was a wee bit put out (or perhaps I just imagined that!). Grace always helps.


Jodi DeLong said...

I know a woman who grows more than 50 different varieties of garlic. What do I know?! I thought there were three: softneck, hardneck, and elephant. I don't know what sort of taste difference there is, but there is going to be a garlic fest at Avondale Sky Winery so I'm curious enough to go to that.

Jessica P. said...

Very nice harvest Sharon! Looks great. I had my poorest harvest yet in about 4 years. Still some fairly good sized bulbs, my boyfriend says I'm being too hard on the poor garlic, with some really puny ones and nothing reaching the size of last year. I mulched exclusively with eel grass in the fall after planting, I really doubt this was of any detriment, especially after reading you had done the same. I'm really stumped as to what may have happened. There's always next year to try and improve!

Anonymous said...

last year my harvest was unimpressive, but this year it's back! What did I do differently? The weather was drier. I fertilized. Planted not as deep. Otherwise I don't's a bummer. They say new varieties need to get used to your garden/area...maybe that's why...