Garlic Status: Mid-July
I am getting lots of questions about where we’re at with the garlic – when we’ll have bulbs for sale – and how about the bulbils?
Here’s my final, not-so-final, wishy-washy answer to predicting the future: I’m not quite sure.
Most years, I’d have the crop in by now. Last year, though, I was harvesting late July and into August, a full month later.
This year seems similar to last. We’ve had some unusually wet, cold weather. I felt sorry for the folks at the “Sunny” Sequim Lavender Festival this last weekend — I don’t think the temps even reached 60 degrees! We’ve had more thunder and lightning than I’ve ever seen on this side of the mountains, and one downpour after another, interspersed with what seems like eternal drizzle. Combine that with winds gusting to 40 and 50 mph, and most of us are tired of saying, “Summer is just around the corner.”
How is this weather affecting the garlic? I am sorry to say I’ve already had a few failures this year – a lesson in microclimates within the garden (I am always learning!) But other varieties are looking really good, despite what are ideal conditions for fungus and mold outbreaks.
Conventional wisdom says to cut the watering a couple of weeks before harvest, but good luck stopping the rain! The fact is, bulbs can increase a lot in size during those last few weeks in the soil, so I have been holding out as long as possible for that promised warm weather to help them along. The question is, will we then have even better conditions for mold (wet, warm soil)? Time will tell, and I am keeping my fingers crossed. I am thankful for raised beds and soft soil (and ok, I admit, even a little breeze now and then – just not something that takes down the schooner Hesperus!).
When to harvest is always a tricky question. Usually I harvest when the bottom leaves are dying off, leaving green ones at the top, and when the scapes show signs of maturity. I am seeing dying leaves – but the scapes are still young. For example, the other day, I went ahead and harvested the Persian Stars, a beautiful little purple stripe, but I think I really should have waited a little longer. They are in good shape, but perhaps not the size they could have been, and I don’t know that the seedlets in the scapes will be mature enough to sprout. We will have to test them.
- Harvest late July / early August
- Cure for 3-4 weeks after that
- Sell & ship in September onward (earlier if you want to stop by and get the green stuff).