Barbolian Garlic Harvest 2011


Our garlic harvest was a full month later than in some years, but yes – the garlic is in and hanging in the shed – AND THE GOOD NEWS IS: IT LOOKS FANTASTIC!

The bad news is: We have only limited quantities for sale this year while we rebuild our stock.

The quick list (Head to the Garlic Varieties page for full descriptions):

Artichokes Inchelium, Polish White, Sicilian, Transylvanian
Asian Asian Tempest
Porcelains German Extra Hardy, Romanian Red, Rosewood, Susan D.
Purple Stripes Brown Tempest, Chesnok Red, Metechi, Persian Star, Russian Giant, Siberian, Vekak
Rocamboles Carpathian, Juan de Fuca Wonder, Killarney Red, Western Rose
Scapes Available for Porcelain, Purple Stripe, and Rocambole varieties.

 Despite limited quantities, we are very excited about this year’s crop, especially after last year’s failure.

It was a hard lesson for me. I salvaged what I could of my garlic and my pride, planted the best of what I had, did a little horse-trading on the side, and also did a lot of debating on whether I was cut out for this business.

Many thanks to my nephew for helping with the harvest.wheelbarrow full of garlic
My doubts were thrown to the compost pile when we started harvesting, only to find one beautiful bulb after another. We gently lifted them from the ground from beneath the bulb (never yanking on the stem, which can break it loose from the bulb and invite the dreaded molds and nefarious insects). (Many thanks to my niece and nephew for their help!) We laid them carefully on the ground, one by one, and later tied them in small bundles to hang and cure. I am always amazed when people roughly handle garlic. I cringe when I see people in grocery stores tossing bulbs around like tennis balls. Garlic, especially when it is first harvested, is tender and easily bruised. Treat it gently and with kindness. Give it the respect it deserves.

We are keeping our fingers crossed during the curing process, but so far, so good. I recently learned the Earth Dharma Farm in Maine did not fare so well – coastal humidity provided just-right conditions for mold, a story we know too well. Our hearts go out to them as they salvage what they can and try to rebuild, much like we did this last year.

Garlic is tied in bundles and hung under cover to cure for a month or more.

And speaking of rebuilding: harvest time is also the time to be planning on what to put in the ground this fall for the 2012 crop, and by default, also means it’s time for that annual debate on whether to scale up, cut back, or stay the same, a debate that has delayed this announcement. (More for me means less for you. Sorry, but that’s the way it is.) It takes years (or a large cash investment) to build up a quantity of seed stock, so the decision is an important one. Once the garlic obsession takes hold, however, it’s near impossible to stop. Fair warning. There are just so many varieties to try. Over the years, I’m getting a little better at determining just what is able to survive the abuse in my particular garden plot on the planet, but I am always open to new and interesting varieties.

One option if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to size up your stock is to plant the bulblets from the scapes – if you thought to save them, that is. They are hard to find, because most people subscribe to the conventional wisdom that mandates cutting them off so the plant will put more energy into growing bigger bulbs. More about that in a future post, but suffice to say, we are offering scapes for sale this year, in addition to the regular bulbs (Asian, Porcelains, Purple Stripes, and Rocamboles, i.e., all hardneck varieties). (More about reasons NOT to cut your scapes and growing garlic from tiny bulblets coming soon.)

Future posts will also look at what worked and what didn’t. (You, too, can learn from my foibles.)

For now, though, if you are interested in purchasing, write me an email. It’s a busy time of year, but I WILL get back to you as soon as I can. We will be shipping after the bulbs have had a chance to cure (about mid-September) unless you beg for them sooner. Drop-ins at our homestead are welcome; give me a call first. I look forward to hearing from you!

One final serious note:

Those who know me and follow our blog know that the last few months have been difficult at best, dealing with family tragedies, health issues, losses, and other chaotic events, any one of which would have been enough to deal with in a year. Piled up at once, they only served to make me even more appreciative of how fortunate we are – because it’s true – no matter how bad it gets, you never have to look far to find someone worse off. Thanksgiving is today and every day, and I just want to take this opportunity to say how thankful we are for all the supportive friends who have come forward, some of whom I have never even met. Right now, I feel like a mole who has been in a dark hole for the last few months and who, in clawing his way to the surface of the earth, breaks through, squints in the blinding light, and says, “Whoaaa…it’s a big world out there!” And let me tell ya, the sunshine feels pretty good.

Thank you, friends. Life is good.

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