Wednesday, September 27, 2017

To Beautiful, Nutritious, Pungent Garlic

Oh, that miracle clove!
Not only does garlic taste good,
it cures baldness and tennis elbow, too.
                         - Lauri Burrows Grad
                               Los Angeles Magazine 

Methinks Ms. Grad may have been enjoying a glass or two of a good vino while waxing poetically about garlic! 

Nonetheless, I wholeheartedly agree that garlic tastes good and is also nutritionally super-good for us.  (Haven't seen a vampire around here in ages.)  I grow garlic and it's much enjoyed and used regularly in my cooking.

'Round about the middle of August I took my trusty spade out into the garden and harvested this year's crop.  Sad to say, it was not as plentiful as in years past, but the bulbs that did grow were large.  Cause of less than a bountiful harvest?  Too much moisture?  Not enough heat at the right time?  I don't know.

I hung the bulbs with stalks still attached in our small wood shed to cure.  All our rain and humidity have, no doubt, not provided the best conditions for curing, but I decided today I needed to clean and store the bulbs for winter. 

I don't know how commercial garlic producers get their bulbs to look so white and clean.  Mine certainly never do.

There were 49 bulbs to process, but my original harvest was 60, if I remember correctly.  I must confess to "stealing" several bulbs during the curing process and encouraging Chicken Mama to do the same.  The bulk of the ones I pilfered went into jars of my Minnesota Kimchi I've made and squirreled away in the spare refrigerator for our winter's supply.

The reason I'm thinking curing conditions weren't ideal this year is because I found 13 bulbs that aren't in good storing condition as shown in the basket on the right in the picture above.  (Undesirable growing conditions?  I didn't dig them at the correct time?  Too much humidity during curing time?  The garlic gods have something against me?)  The cloves have separated and they're lacking adequate layers of "skin" to cover the bulbs properly.  These will have to be used first before the other 36 that seem to be of good keeping quality.

I've ordered more garlic to plant this fall as I'm sure the harvest from this year won't be enough to provide us with an adequate supply over winter let alone allow me to use some of the bulbs to plant this fall as a future crop.

The up side is that nearly all the bulbs are a very good size with many lovely cloves, too.  Am I overjoyed with the garlic harvest?  Not so much, but at the same time very grateful for what I did get.  Next year will be better.


coffeeontheporchwithme said...

Where do you store the bulbs now so they will last throughout the winter? Fridge? Basement? -Jenn

Kristina said...

Your garlic looks great! I bought two new varieties last year, and had a great harvest. I finally found a way to store mine without a root cellar - a drawer in my kitchen, not far from a door that lets in cold air during winter, and in the kitchen where it's often colder than the rest of the house. The garage would not work. It gets too cold in there.

Mama Pea said...

Jenn - Yep, in our basement along with the onions. Our basement stays right around 52F which seems to be just right. It's damp in the summer when we have to keep a dehumidifier going, but is dry in the winter. Garlic and onions don't want humidity but rather a dry storage place.

Mama Pea said...

Thanks, Kristina. Glad you got a great harvest from your garlic.

When you get your root cellar, you won't want to store your garlic there as the needed humidity for the root cellar veggies will be bad for garlic. Sounds to me as though you found an ideal spot for it in that kitchen drawer!

Karren said...

I plant about a hundred heads each year and store them in a cool room in the house. I put up a string on nails, then clip the hard neck stems at about 7" long. Rubber band the ends of 4 at a time together at the end and hang them over the string. That makes them splay out slightly so that each head has air moving around it. Most years, it lasts through the whole season until the next harvest. If it starts looking bad, I cut off the top tip of the head, pack them into a small pan, add about a half inch of water and some olive oil and roast them until soft. When they're cool, squeeze out the soft goodies and put them in a jar in the refrigerator and use them that way. Delicious, and they last for at least a month that way.

“Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.”
― Alice May Brock, of Alice's Restaurant fame.

Susan said...

Those are some beautiful heads of garlic! Mine was smaller than usual, but the spring (and summer) was very wet and cold. I am always thankful that I get anything! I love garlic!

Mama Pea said...

Karren - Thank you for the info on how to handle the garlic harvest in a different way! Always good to hear of how other folks do it.

I've seen that garlic quote by Alice May Brock before, too. Great!

Mama Pea said...

Susan - I could hardly believe (especially with OUR cold wet growing season) that my bulbs were as big as they were this year. Maybe they just knew that because so many of the ones I planted didn't grow at all, these other guys had to try to make up for the smaller numbers!

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

I tried planting garlic once. I suspect the squirrels that run rampant around here dug them up (or something did) because they never grew. When I went to dig them up to see if I planted them upside down or something, they were all gone! Rascals afoot! That's a might nice looking one in the last snap!

Mama Pea said...

MrsDM - I've tried planting garlic several times before but planting the cloves in raised beds seems to be the charm for me. It's worked for four years now. We don't have a lot of squirrels around either though. Maybe if you got "rid" of your squirrels, you would have better luck? Might be worth a try.

Sandy Livesay said...

Mama Pea,

Love your garlic! I'm sure the weather had a lot to do with the amount of bulbs you harvested this year. Next year will be the cat's meow come harvest time for garlic!!! I just have this feeling you'll have tons of garlic.


Goatldi said...

I will jump in the pool and probably jinx myself. I got a wonderful harvest this year! The first year in four I have had enough to use over winter and replant with also. For the most part extra large heads jam packed with nice sized cloves.

I have "rustic " garlic as you do Mama Pea. I have noted that the Farmers market folks do too but aha the stuff in the markets is always sparkling clean and super white. Which makes me wonder how that works and do I really want to know?

Rain said...

Hi Mama Pea :)) vampires here either! I am with you, I truly believe next year will be better, though I think your garlic looks great! :) I have some in a box ready to plant as well. I have to close up the summer garden this year, we are having frost each night now. What's left of the tomatoes will be sitting on the window sill (hopefully) ripening. I have to take in the lemon tree too. Now I can finally focus on the winter garden!

I liked the garlic lesson btw! :) All that information will come in handy for me.

Leigh said...

What wonderful size bulbs! It's always a puzzle why things grow well some years, and not in others. My garlic never looks like the store-bought either, but that's true of of everything I grow!

I would love to have a basement that stayed 52°F all year! No basement here, alas, and even our crawl space doesn't keep a temperature like that. Just one of those minuses to match our year-round gardening plus.

Mama Pea said...

Sandy - From your mouth to the gardening god's ears!! Can't have too much garlic! :o)

Mama Pea said...

Goatldi - As I stood in front of the pristine white garlic bulbs in our co-op this week, I just had to shake my head. It looked for all the world as if the bulbs had been . . . dare I say it? . . . bleached. Yuck, oh gosh, I hope not.

Love your label of "rustic" garlic. That's mine for sure!

Mama Pea said...

Rain - The new bulbs I ordered haven't arrived here yet, but that's fine since I don't plant ours until mid-October.

No frost here yet, but the growth of what's left in the garden has reeeaaalllly slowed down.

So eager to follow you and your winter garden. I've never had any luck at all with one.

Mama Pea said...

Leigh - Although the garlic is tucked away for the winter, my onions seem to be slow drying this year. But they are in an unheated space (good ventilation though). No frost here yet so our night time temps haven't been overly cool. I think I just have to be patient for the onions to be cured. (Not one of my virtues!)

Goatldi said...

Funny that had crossed my mind but thought no way. Perhaps you are on to something but in a co-op? That is almost sacrilege!

Mama Pea said...

Goatldi - I know the produce manager of our organic co-op fairly well and I'm going to ask her what she knows about the sparkling white garlic bulb situation!