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Garlic Status – Summer Solstice ’08

Garlic Status_Summer Solstice 2008

Despite the cold spring here in the Pacific Northwest, the garlic has been thriving! We got everything weeded over the weekend and thoroughly watered. You can almost feel them reaching upward, waiting for that promised sunshine!

As you can see from the photos, I planted the garlic rather densely in beds (4 rows/bed) this year, which has really facilitated the weeding, fertilizing, & watering tasks! The picture in the lower right quadrant shows 2 plots in the background that were recently tilled under — I had grown a green manure crop of a combination of clover, vetch, and ryegrass; I will be planting them again soon with more of the same; these will be garlic beds for next year and 2010. Yes, those are the Olympic Mountains in the background. Gorgeous morning!

Also pictured are the tall spikes, often called “spears” of the elephant garlic. The hardneck varieties send smaller shoots, called “scapes”; pictured are the tight-curling scapes of the rocambole hardnecks. I have been cutting these off (yes! you can have some if you are in the neighborhood!) and using them in pestos, salad dressings, & stir fries. They also add an unusual touch to floral arrangements. I am making some garlic hummus to bring to a barbecue this weekend, and am thinking about how the scapes might be quite beautiful pickled in a jar! Mmm!

I figure bulb harvesting is about a month or so away (a little late this year). I may get one more watering in, but will stop the water after that, which will help prevent molds and extend the shelf-life of the bulbs.

We might hit 70 today when the official summer starts at 4:30 today! That is welcome news for those of us who have been wearing sweatshirts all spring! Celebrate the solstice!

Rain! Rain! Rain!

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you know we’re still waiting for this season called spring and it’s almost summer! The cold temps have delayed most crops – but I have to say, the lettuce, spinach, peas, mustards, parsley, potatoes, rhubarb, and garlic are thriving! (And so are the weeds!)

Garlic scapes are a little slow this year, but I see elephant spears are starting to shoot straight up, which means the curly scapes from the gourmet hardnecks are not far behind.

If you haven’t tried scapes, they are a real treat. Milder than the bulbs, they are perfect in pestos, lightly steamed with other veggies (a perfect match with asparagus!), or with pasta, seafood, eggs – well, I might be biased, but just about everything!

Keep in mind that cooking will lessen (some would say “mellow”) the flavor. Use raw for full strength. For cooked dishes, I generally chop them up and toss them in at the last minute. If you let them sit a few minutes after slicing, the enzymes in the garlic react and create chemical compounds (allicin and ajoene) that provide more health benefits.

Contact me at blythe [at] barbolian [dot] com or 360-681-3891 for availability.

YES! I am open to trades & barters!