Monday, July 9, 2012

The First Garlic Harvest

Last October 9th, I planted garlic for the first time. I bought one organic bulb each of three different varieties. I popped the individual cloves in the ground per the written instructions and crossed my fingers. Now, nine months later to the day, I harvested the first variety - "Chesnook Red". I have been reading a lot lately both on-line and in books about the specifics of when and how to harvest garlic. It's not as easy as one might think. Harvest too early and you loose bulb size. Harvest too late and the bulbs don't store. My visual clue was to dig when half of the leaves appeared to be brown.

First I needed to cut off the garlic scapes. Only hardneck garlic varieties produce scapes. I have collected quite a long list of interesting recipes that use scapes and am looking forward to trying a few of them.

Last fall I planted nine individual cloves. One clove didn't sprout so I had eight plants. One plant did send up a side shoot and as you can see in the left tray, produced a main large bulb and a small side bulb. I was amazed at how long the roots were underneath the bulbs.

I was pleased with the final size of the bulbs. Three of them were quite large and all of them were a descent size. I will weight them after the bulbs have cured and the tops are cut. If I like the taste of this variety, I plan to keep the largest bulb and use its cloves for my planting stock this Fall.

I created this temporary drying rack in the shop. The bulbs are suppose to cure in a warm place away from direct sunlight. This was as good a set-up as I could think of. Boy does the shop smell like garlic when you walk into it right now! For a first attempt I am really happy how this garlic looks. I will dig my other two varieties in a few weeks. Currently they have almost no browning of their leaves. And then the fun will begin - taste testing!


Athena at Minerva's Garden said...

Hi Lexa: What a great harvest! I have not been successful with growing garlic in the past, but I am going to save your information and give it another try this fall--I appreciate your harvest and drying tips--very good! Take care, and have a fantastic week--isn't the weather lovely now?

Mrs. Petrie said...

Thank you for your suggestion of the Ball Blue book for canning. I was just thinking the other day that I should grow garlic. Yours looks wonderful. I am curious to know how it compares to store bought. My grandfather grows it and it is VERY strong and small. I don't know the variety. I'm looking forward to checking out your blog. :)

Sue Garrett said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog Lex, your Chesnok seem to have done better than mine did.

candice said...

nice work! I pulled my garlic too, after whining about it;) posted on my blog the pics...but the three varieties, and drying in the shop ? garage is a good idea. I will move mine. I have mine where they get about 2 hours of direct sunlight.

Mary Hysong said...

lovely harvest; I really need to plant some garlic!

Yael at Home Garden Diggers said...

A lovely garlic harvest. I love seeing the stalks uncurl when the flower heads shoot up like in one of your photos. I don't have any actually planted, but I do have a few that popped up and are giving me some beautiful flowers right now. I love them when they open up...and cheaper than buying the pricey ornamental alliums.

Yael from Home Garden Diggers