. . . or experienced to make gardening mistakes.
I had a beautiful crop of garlic this year, but waited too long to harvest it.
When I dug it I could see immediately that some of the garlic was not wrapped in a nice, tight bulb, but rather the cloves had started to separate.
This happens when you don't harvest your garlic soon enough after the leaves have started to turn brown.
For some reason, I've always felt a certain anxiety that I will harvest it too soon. When you do that the cloves will be small, and they don't store as well as the fully matured, larger ones.
But leaving your garlic in the ground too long (which I definitely did this year -- blast and dang!) causes the cloves to separate and burst out of their layers of protective skin. They then become vulnerable to disease and, yep, now after mine have cured for about three weeks, I can easily see mold forming on some of the cloves. I'm thinking I'm going to have to dump those bulbs to avoid further contamination.
Fortunately, I've been blessed with a big crop so I'll now have to carefully sort through the bulbs, set aside the healthier, large-cloved ones to plant this fall for next year's crop, and try to use up the ones with the separated cloves first. They probably won't remain usable for long without their protective skins intact as their keeping quality will be severely limited. I'll keep my fingers crossed for the storage quality of the bulbs that do look okay.
Well, one thing is for sure. Next year I won't worry about harvesting my garlic too soon, but instead that I'll wait too late as I did this year. Arrrgh.
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