It’s that special time of year again when we harvest all our garlic from the fields, lay it out to cure, and save seed for next season.
If you’re not familiar with growing garlic, it’s unique in many ways. One of them is that you seed garlic in the fall, usually around Halloween. Last season, way before the days became cool and brisk, Mel and I seeded a cover crop of buckwheat in the field that was to be our garlic field. Since the garlic would be in the ground from October-July, the cover crop gave the land some rest from vegetable production. It also helped prevent erosion and increased organic matter in the soil once we turned the buckwheat in. In addition, the buckwheat flowers provided food for local pollinators, and the crop was a huge help in weed suppression.
The harvest usually occurs in mid-July when about 40% of the leaves begin to brown. We check the bulbs leading up to harvest and make sure the cloves look full in their wrappers but have not begun to separate from each other. After we pull them from the earth, we transport them to the greenhouse where we spread them out to cure for about two weeks. Once they are done curing, we sort through them and set aside the biggest, healthiest looking bulbs to save for planting.
We harvested the garlic last week, and we’ll be distributing it next month (watch the newsletter for more information about when and how to pick it up), Meanwhile, think of a cool dark place where you can store it, like your basement or garage, to prevent it from sprouting or getting dry and spongy. Properly stored, your garlic can last for 6-7 months. I’ve been able to keep garlic until April (although I typically eat it all before then)!
Not only is garlic delicious in everything, it is also known for its antibacterial properties. It has been used all over the world and through the ages to help treat various ailments. According to the Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America, garlic has been known for treating “colds, fevers, coughs, earaches, bronchitis, shortness of breath, sinus infection, stomach aches, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, diarrhea, dysentery, gout, and rheumatism.” Just in case you needed another reason to eat your veggies!
See you under the tent!