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August 14, 2011

I wish every crop was as easy to grow, harvest and store as garlic.  In between haying chores this week, I got the garlic harvested, sorted and hung up to dry.   I planted less last year, but now I worry I didn’t plant enough.  I am still using up garlic from last year, and thanks to this post I no longer feel like I’m committing a garlic cardinal sin.  But…last year I didn’t have tomatoes to roast, so it remains to be seen if I grew enough for seed, cooking and storing until next years garlic harvest time.

I grow one softneck and one hardneck.  Supposedly the hardneck only stores 6 months, but I don’t have any problem keeping it until late spring and the softneck easily keeps until the next season.  However, I am a lazy cook, and I like the large easy- to- peel hardneck cloves, so I grow more of that type.

When I am sorting the garlic I am looking for the largest bulbs to save for seed.  Using baling twine (courtesy of the cows) I bundle up like sized candidates and hang them on bean poles in one of my tie stalls.  The garlic bundles can hang in the airy barn out of direct light to continue drying down.  Later in the fall, at planting time I will clean the bulbs, cut the tops and store any that aren’t slated for planting in mesh bags in the basement.

Simple tags made from paper feed sacks suffice, since the tags are only to protect my seed from anyone I send to the barn to get garlic for dinner.  Hanging the bundles of small and medium garlic in front of the seed and other keepers helps too.

Every day when I get minerals for the cows, I can do a visual to see if the garlic is drying down and getting enough air around the bundles.

And come to think of it we haven’t been having much of a fall vampire problem in the barn either since we started curing the garlic in there. 😉

16 Comments leave one →
  1. A.A. permalink
    August 14, 2011 9:46 am

    Nice post 🙂

  2. August 14, 2011 10:40 am

    Yes, because the PNW has such a vampire and werewolf problem…I just sigh at that thought, but I don’t like much of modern vampire lore or novels either.

    The garlic looks great though! How do you go about drying it to grind up though? Or making it easier to grate? I really like using fresh garlic, but I don’t really know how to work with it past separating the cloves.

    • August 14, 2011 12:44 pm

      Kerry, he he… I don’t get the phenomenon either.

      I usually use the garlic fresh, minced, & sauteed before adding to most dishes. If you want to grate fresh garlic, use a microplane they work well. And if I want to make garlic powder, I slice peeled cloves and dry them and then use a mortar and pestle to make the powder. That’s a lot of work though compared to just having garlic bulbs on hand.

  3. Carol permalink
    August 14, 2011 1:13 pm

    I surely wish I could dry my garlic in the barn, but I haven’t found a way to keep the mud daubers out of them. So, the guest room closet is the coolest, darkest place in the house. And, you are right. That must be why my vampire friends never stay overnight.

  4. August 14, 2011 4:56 pm

    Garlic is one of my favorites to plant and cook with. I too am a lazy cook loving the big cloves. Just made some pesto couple days back. YUM!

  5. August 14, 2011 5:01 pm

    Perfect post for me. This is the first year for me to grow garlic. I am not sure where I can hang them away from critters. Do you find that the mice and other rodents leave them alone? Is there anything else I should watch out for? – Margy

  6. August 15, 2011 4:13 am

    Oh my gosh, I use baling twine to tie and hang my garlic…in the barn…like minds :)) Is Jane ready (or already done) for her big date? We’ve had a bit of a challenge getting our Holstein heifer bred – the bull we borrowed was apparently too short 😦 so we walked her over to the neighbor’s big Angus and he did his job – hopefully it took. Also, love the vampire comment!

    • August 15, 2011 8:44 am

      Gotta love baling twine! Jane has a tentative AI date in a week or so, but the guy judges at the county fair so he might be busy this time. The bull I rented is too big, IMO, so its AI this time around.

  7. August 15, 2011 6:54 am

    I was just wondering what kinds of garlic to order for my fall planting and I was debating between Music and Orgeon Blue! And I see you grow both. Do you like one better than the other?

    • August 15, 2011 8:40 am

      Allison, I like Music because it is a hard neck and therefore has big cloves that are easy to peel when I am in a hurry, and Oregon Blue is a softneck with lots of little cloves that are hard to peel, but to roast and squeeze its flavor is to die for. But gee, there are so many varieties and subtle flavors, like apples and potatoes garlic flavor is pretty subjective.

  8. August 15, 2011 8:50 am

    How many did you plant/harvest for a family of 3? One of my biggest challenges is knowing how much to plant (of anything). A certain percentage needs to be set aside for seed – (10-20%?). A certain amount needs to be factored in – in case there are weather related crop shortages… etc. etc. I would love to hear more (in your blog) about how much you plant of things … just to give me an idea of what other people are doing. In the end, I know that it is individual and depends on your family’s consumption patterns, climate, fertility, growing skills… and storage skills.

    Thanks for an informative and inspiring blog!

  9. August 15, 2011 9:27 am

    As usual, I know it’s time to dig our garlic now! So nice to know we are a couple weeks behind you (although I think that’s starting to shift as we get past the equinox), in the spring I hope to be more in step with your seeding/planting schedule! (also known as ‘please don’t stop posting about the daily gardening things’)

  10. August 16, 2011 7:12 am

    We had a really early garlic year…I laid mine down on a wicker table to dry on our side porch…It is so much better than old grocery store garlic. I am itching to put it in again now, but I keep remembering that it needs to wait for October.

  11. August 23, 2011 5:41 pm

    I am going to try and plant a few bulbs of garlic later this fall for a spring harvest. I picked some up at our local farmers market, not sure of the variety (I’ll have to ask the woman the next time I go!). I really hope it works out, I’ve never grown my own garlic before.

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