It’s that special time of year again when we harvest all our garlic from the fields, lay it out to cure and save seeds for next season.
If you’re not familiar with growing garlic, it’s unique in many ways. For example, you seed garlic in the fall, usually around Halloween. We took our largest bulbs from the previous season’s harvest, split them up into individual cloves and then planted the cloves. Soon after planting, Kerry spread a thick layer of leaves over the beds. The leaves help insulate and protect the cloves during the winter months since the ground will naturally push them up, potentially exposing the cloves as the ground freezes and thaws. The leaves also are extremely helpful in suppressing weeds once the weather warms up.
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 yet begun to separate from each other. After we pull them from the earth, the bulbs are transported 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 the bulbs, like your basement or garage, to prevent them from sprouting or getting dry and spongy. When properly stored, your garlic can last for 6-7 months.
Not only is garlic delicious in everything, it is also known for its antibacterial properties. It has been used throughout the world for centuries 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 applied in 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!
Until next time,